Commonly Asked Questions About Special Education, The Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act (“Idea”), And Due Process.
THESE ANSWERS DO NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. EVERY SITUATION IS DIFFERENT. OUR FIRM, IN 2015, HANDLED THE MAJORITY OF DUE PROCESS COMPLAINTS THAT WERE FILED IN THE STATE OF ALABAMA. CONTACT US FOR A FREE EVALUATION OF YOUR CASE. 205-989-1709.
1. What is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (“IDEA”) and how does it affect my child?
Answer: In short, the IDEA requires school districts or local education agencies (“LEA”) to develop and implement procedures that ensure that all children within their jurisdiction, birth to twenty-one, regardless of the severity of their disability, and who need special education services are identified, located, and evaluated.
2. If I request services under the IDEA or file a due process complaint, will it make the school district’s teachers, etc mad at me or my child?
Answer: Typically, the school teachers may initially give you the “silent treatment”; however, most times they realize you are simply doing what is in your child’s best interests and doing what they themselves would do for their own children if needed. We have never had a case where the teachers or school representatives punished the child with special needs due to the filing of a due process complaint.
3. If I want you to help my child, what is it going to cost me?
Answer: Zero. The IDEA contains an attorney fee shifting provision which requires the school district to pay your attorney’s fees if you are “the prevailing party.” Notwithstanding, there is an exception. If we make a recommendation to you concerning the case and you do not listen, accept, or “go off the reservation”, then you may have to pay our firm’s fees. It has only happened to us one time, but we tell clients about it every time. If your child’s case involves a juvenile court matter, a separate hourly fee will apply.
4. Can you bully, intimidate, get even, get justice, be mean, or get someone fired at the school board?
5. Can you get me a big verdict like the lawyers on the billboards?
Answer: No. The IDEA does not provide for compensatory damages like in a car wreck. See next answer.
6. If you can’t get me money, what can you do for my child?
Answer: Our firm can ensure, by filing a due process complaint, that your child with special needs or a qualifying disability is receiving a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) from your school district under the IDEA.
7. My child’s teacher keeps telling me he/she needs medicine because he/she will not sit still in class. Why do I continually have to pick my child up from school because of his/her bad or poor behavior?
Answer: First, a teacher advising you that your son or daughter needs medicine may be a “red flag” that your child needs an Individual Education Plan (“IEP”) under the IDEA.
Second, you should not be having to pick your child up at school due to his/her behavior. This is another “red flag”. Our child may require an evaluation by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (“BCBA”). The BCBA will perform a functional behavior analysis (“FBA”) and prepare a behavior intervention plan (“BIP”).
Our firm routinely handles cases for children with behavior problems that can be related to ADD/ADHD, Aspergers, or Autism.
8. My child’s teacher told me that my child must be on medication to attend school due to his/her behavior, is this correct?
Answer: No, the school district can not require that your child be prescribed medicine to attend school. However, this may be an indication that your child has an attention deficit disorder like ADD or ADHD. You need to have the school district perform a comprehensive evaluation under the IDEA to determine if your child has a qualifying disability.
9. I requested that the school perform an evaluation of my child because his grades are poor and he/she is not progressing. The school representative/school counselor told me that they will “worry about it next year”. What should I do?
Answer: First, make sure that you have documented in writing (by email or letter) your request for testing or evaluation of your child under the IDEA. If you did not do so, send the school representative or counselor an email and remind them of the conversation, the date of the conversation, and that you were told that they would “worry about it next year.” This information/documentation will be essential to your due process case if one is filed.
10. If I just reason/“talk nice to” the school district’s representatives about my child’s problems, the school district will do what I want. Why won’t that work?
Answer: This strategy never works for the parent. Many parents tell us this after we provide them with a free evaluation of their case. They usually end up calling us back because the school district does “not want to play ball” or responds very unfavorably to the parent’s request.
If you have tried to fix the situation yourself and have documented your attempts in writing, then call our firm and let us handle the situation for you. Many parents lose sleep and have stress over their child/children not receiving the help they need.
Once our attorneys are engaged to handle your child’s situation, most parents feel relieved of the stress because they know they have hired attorneys experienced in special education issues, the IDEA, IEPs, and BIPs to professionally handle these issues.
11. After I hire your firm, what do I do if the school contacts me about the due process complaint?
Answer: If the school district’s representative contacts you, simply tell them you retained or firm and to call us to answer any questions involving your child including scheduling any meetings to discuss your child’s case. Hang up the phone or do not respond to the text or email. You are not being rude, you are protecting your child and acting in his/her best interests by not having these conversations.
These conversation are often misconstrued and used against you later in the due process hearing. The school district’s representatives will lie and provide untruthful information about these conversations on the witness stand. We see it all the time.
Sometimes school district’s representatives will contact our parents and tell them “let’s just work this out between us.” This is very unprofessional and unconscionable of them to contact your directly after a due process case has been filed.
When that occurs, we will often report this conduct to the hearing officer and state of Alabama to have the appropriate action taken against the school representatives involved. Please let us know of any discussions school district’s representatives attempt to have with you before and after the due process complaint is filed.
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