Special Education Lawyers – Do You Need One?

Special Education Lawyers – Do You Need One?

November 9, 2021 Off By Glespynorson

You may not need a lawyer if everything seems to be going smoothly for your child in special education. There is a possibility, however, that you may need to hire an attorney at some point during your child’s education to act as your advocate. You can read Special Education Law to gain a general overview of Special Education Attorneys and the IEP process.

You Might Need A Lawyer At Times

It is important to consider these factors when determining whether a lawyer is needed.

  • Complexity of the case. The more complex your case is, the more likely you are to benefit from legal advice. Attorneys may be needed in disputes involving complex placement and service issues, for instance.
  • You have a solid case. You may want to consult an attorney if you are not sure whether you have a good case. Before you decide to hire an attorney, they should tell you how strong your case is.
  • Thanks for taking the time to help us. If you are a full-time worker, have a difficult schedule, or are a single parent, another candidate may be more suitable for the job. If, however, you have the time and energy to represent yourself and your child, you may not need to hire a lawyer.
  • Your budget. There is a cost associated with hiring an attorney, and you may not be able to afford one.
  • Your self-confidence. Many parents can be strong advocates for their children in special education. It is better to hire a lawyer, rather than take on the fight alone, if you are not confident in your ability to effectively advocate or negotiate.
  • Members of the school district. Even if the school district has an attorney, you might want the same protection and leverage.
  • Your relationship with the district. If you hire a lawyer, your relationship with the district may change. Lawyers create a more formal and potentially combative environment. School personnel may view you as a troublemaker or squeaky wheel. Your relationship with the school district has changed if you are considering hiring an attorney. Your child’s welfare is more important than a cordial relationship with the school district.

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Lawyers Can Help

There are generally two ways in which a lawyer can help you. An Education attorney can offer advice and assistance throughout the development of your individualized education program (IEP) while you handle most of the work, or they can represent you directly. A lawyer can handle only certain tasks during the IEP process, or they can handle everything from beginning to end.

Among the specific tasks a lawyer can help you with are:

  • Keeping your child’s school records safe
  • Meeting or evaluation request for IEP
  • Preparing for the eligibility meeting for the IEP
  • Prior to the IEP meeting, suggest what parts of the IEP will be most effective and what materials will be most appropriate
  • Meetings with Individualized Education Plans
  • Before signing evaluations and IEPs, review them
  • Researching a legal issue that is relevant to your life
  • Helping to resolve a dispute with the school district in an informal manner
  • Should you decide to file a complaint, an assessment of your case will be provided to you
  • Preparing for and attending hearings
  • After-hearing briefings
  • You can submit a complaint to the appropriate educational agency through us, and
  • You should take your case to court.

By Lawrence Siegel (Nolo), The Complete IEP Guide: How to Advocate for Your Special Ed Child provides more information on how to find a lawyer, how to work with a lawyer and how lawyers are paid (including when the school district is required to pay your legal fees).