Special Education Rights
If you are working through special education law issues, the process can be complex, confusing and intimidating. We are prepared to put our years of experience to work to help you reach the best possible outcome. Bringing a Leigh Law Group team member to your IEP team meeting or Section 504 plan meeting means you can attend with as much power and know-how as the school district. You will attend these meetings with a seasoned Leigh Law Group team member who will target the needs of your child and work collaboratively for an appropriate, results-oriented outcome.
Leigh Law Group is comprised of San Francisco special education attorneys and child advocates who work to assist parents in obtaining a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). We work across California with offices in Marin County, Los Angeles and San Francisco. At our firm, you are our priority. We will provide you with individualized guidance to protect the rights of both you and your child.
Protecting Your Child’s Right To FAPE
The FAPE standard is a right that is specifically outlined in both federal and state law, federal and state regulation, federal and state advisory opinions, and regulatory and case law and requires that school districts provide educational programming, services and placement designed to meet a child’s unique needs so that the child may make measurable gains within a year.
If your child is determined to be eligible for special education services by your school district following a thorough assessment, then he or she may be entitled to either a Section 504 plan or an Individualized Education Program (IEP). You may also have a dispute about your child’s right to be assessed at all and whether your child was deemed ineligible for special education.
Guiding You Through Potential Obstacles
Though children with unique needs have a right to FAPE, there are several legal processes both schools and families must go through to obtain it. These complex processes can lead to conflict.
If you and your school district cannot agree on appropriate programming, placement, IEP goals, services or special education eligibility, then state and federal laws allow the parent of a child with special needs to file for an administrative trial-like proceeding referred to as “due process.” The special education laws provide that parents who win in the due process hearing may be entitled to have their reasonable attorney fees paid by the school district. This fee provision allows us to charge our clients reduced or lower fees.
The attorneys at Leigh Law Group are prepared to work with you on issues related to:
- Expulsions and manifestation hearings
- 504 or IEP removals
- Additional services for individuals with disabilities
- Conservatorship issues and hearings
Is My Child Eligible For An Individualized Education Program (IEP)?
An IEP is a carefully crafted special education plan designed specifically for each child. You may already know your child could be eligible for an IEP if he or she has a medically diagnosed disability, including blindness or deafness. If this is so, you can provide the school with medical documentation. However, there is still a legal process to see if a child is eligible for an IEP. Schools follow federal standards as they conduct:
- An educational evaluation: Professionals, including psychologists and other educators, will analyze your child’s ability and performance through tests and observations.
- An eligibility determination: If the evaluation determines your child has a disability and would benefit from an IEP, they then determine need and eligibility.
After these two steps, your child may be eligible for an IEP.
How Do You Obtain Services For A Child With A Learning Disability?
Children with learning disabilities such as dyslexia qualify specifically in California for an IEP when their dyslexia affects their ability to access their education. You can obtain services through an IEP by requesting an educational evaluation to determine your child’s eligibility and need for special education services. That request should always be in writing and triggers the evaluation process. 504 Plan Process. Services through a 504 plan require a slightly different process. This plan comes from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which obligates public schools to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Though outlined in federal law, it is often the parent who is responsible for obtaining 504 services by:
- Recording their child’s needs
- Meeting with coordinators and educators
- Formally requesting a plan
- Helping to create the education plan
There is still an evaluation process to determine eligibility for a 504 plan.
What If The District Or Board Denies Special Education Services?
If your child’s school or education board denies the special education services or eligibility, you can contact Leigh Law Group to support you. We will strive to protect your as well as your child’s rights. Our attorneys can help you:
- Obtain outside regional center education services
- Explore an independent educational evaluation (IEE)
- Challenge the denial by filing a special education complaint or a CDE complaint
- We are also well version in discrimination and failures to appropriately accommodate
We will stand by you against any challenges you may face. Our goals are to get you the help you and your child need and to protect your child’s future.
Can My Child Apply For Special Education Programs In Higher Education?
No. However, many institutions are covered by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Eligible students must create an academic support plan that includes the services colleges and universities provide for Section 504-eligible students. An academic accommodation plan can cover many areas of need, including:
- Class substitutions
- Note takers in each class
Many higher education institutions nowadays also have specific services to assist students with disabilities or certain needs.
How Can An Attorney Help Me?
Since many disability accommodations fall under specific laws and civil rights, an experienced education law attorney offers essential support and representation. We can help you and your family with a wide range of matters, including:
- Filling out the correct benefit forms
- Reviewing education or medical records
- Assisting with placement services
- Advocating for you at meetings with counselors and academic disability staff
- Communicating with schools on your behalf
- Challenging removals from a university or college when the student has been wrongfully removed for academic issues or behavior
- Challenging failing grades due to failure to accommodate
- Claims of behavioral misconduct such as plagiarism or harassment
Contact Attorneys Who Understand Special Education Rights
We do not charge for our initial consultation. The process starts with a free phone call or in-person meeting in our office to get a general idea of your situation.