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Special Ed Parents

Nov 20, 2020

Special Ed 101 mp3

Thu, 11/19 9:46PM • 40:50

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

child, special education, student, school district, parents, evaluations, education, iep, disability, attorney, iep meeting, mediation, state, due process hearing, least restrictive environment, timelines, hearing, school, procedural safeguards, decision

Transcript:
Today, I want to talk to you a little bit about special education, I realized that I haven't done a brief overview of special education, I did start off my podcast by going over the differences between special education and section 504, which are very important distinctions for parents to understand. But I thought at this point, especially with the current state of semi-virtual, something education, a lot of parents are identifying different struggles that their students are having, because of the programs that are being offered right now. And so children who got used to attending to school in person coming home and being virtual, or having their schedules disrupted or not receiving their services, or classes in a regular scheduled manner, the way that they had been before with that level of consistency, parents are starting to see a lot of struggles come up with students who maybe didn't struggle with certain aspects of school before. So I think it's really important for everyone to understand what special education is. Now, if you're one of my regular listeners, you are going to notice that the date on this is a Thursday, not a Wednesday. And that would be because in my very human life, I somehow managed to delete this entire podcast when I was publishing it yesterday. So today, I'm going to redo it and hope that it comes across smoothly and good for you guys. And hopefully, I will learn from my mistakes. And this won't happen again. But I think we can all agree it probably will. Anyhow, let's jump into what special education is. So let's start with what special education is not if you grew up when I did, which was quite some time ago, special education had very negative connotations attached to it, it was often very impaired students who were kept substantially separate from everybody else. Oftentimes they might be not only in a different classroom, but possibly in a different building, or, in our case, a trailer or temporary structure outback. So it certainly physically was not given any level of priority. And then there of course, all the jokes about the short bus kids and special education right on this short bus. And so that can be a very hard stereotype to get over in your head as a parent. And I know for me, my children have disabilities, and I advocate for children all of the time. Sometimes those thoughts creep back into my head, so I get it. And so I think it's important to clarify that that is not what special education is. Our school system is designed to provide education on mass. So we provide education to a large group of students and expect them all to learn at the same time. And on the exact same track years ago, that education was provided in a very limited manner. There was no differentiated instruction, there was no understanding of kinetic learners versus auditory learners versus visual learners, there really wasn't that discussion going on yet. So now we know better. So we do better as the saying goes, but we still don't necessarily address every child. So if you have one of those students who does not learn the way the vast majority of other students do, then you need something different and you need something special. And that is called special education. So for students who cannot access the education, which is not just academics, by the way, it includes social emotional issues. It includes daily living skills, if it's something that your student needs to be successful and independent in life, then it is something that they need to learn. And that falls under the category of education and for students who have a disability and for whom that disability impacts their

 

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Education. And for those students who also require specialized instruction, they may qualify for special education. The first thing as a parent that you need to learn is that it is up to you to know your child, you now have to become the expert, you will have to be the expert on their disability, you will have to be the expert on the strategies to work with children with those disabilities. And you're going to have to become an expert in special education because you are the best advocate for your child. And that does not mean that your school district does not have your child's best interest in hand. But every professional that works with your child, whether it's their teacher, a service provider, a T ball coach, whoever it is, their interaction and their responsibility with your child is very limited in scope. And so it is up to you to make those connections. And this is not an easy job. So you're going to have to work at it. And you're going to have to learn and I have complete faith that you will, because for one, you're listening to this, which tells me that you are already down the path of educating yourself. I always like to talk about the history of special education. And I'll point out right now that this is not intended to be legal advice for anybody and certainly not specific to your child. If you have specific questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Or if you go to coppa.org Corp a.org, you will find a directory of attorneys advocates and providers in your area. But this I'm really just giving to you so you understand where we came from and where we're going. So the brief brief history a special education that I would like to give you a special education laws is in 1975. And for some of you might you might think that's a long time ago, but it's really not. It's less than 50 years ago, education of All Handicapped Children Act was enacted that provided students with disabilities with a free appropriate public education if you are in the ages between three and 21. It also provided for due process rights for parents for when they disagree with their school district. It provided for an IEP the individualized education program, it provided for LRE the least restrictive environment, and it agreed to assist states and localities financially through federal funding, which just for the record has never been fully funded. In 1986. The amendments to the education of All Handicapped Children Act came around and those amendments saw the need for an early intervention and mandated the development of a comprehensive system for early intervention for infants. And many of you know that as Birth to Three and that is a different section of the IDA than special education in 1990. The eha was renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act the IDA that's when eligibility categories were expanded to include autism and traumatic brain injuries. And we are now to date up to 13 primary disability categories which we'll discuss in a minute and also defined assistive technology devices and services which had not previously been in the act. In 1997. The ID EA was reauthorized and then again, it was reauthorized in 2004. But it was supposed to be reauthorized in 2010. It's not necessary to reauthorize it. There are definitely more protections that parents need at this point as our world changes. And as our education changes, so does the way in which we provide special education services and the rights the parents may need in order to advocate for their child. The parent side advocacy world is not itching to get that reauthorized right now, again, as I said, it doesn't need to be. And we need to be very strategic and cautious on how we move forward with that. So that is your little legislative lesson. So when is a student eligible for special education? There's a great question. And I hear this all the time. My child has ADHD and they will not give them an IEP I brought them a doctor's note. He's all over the place, and they will not give him an IEP. Well, having disability is not the only thing that you require. In order to obtain special education services, there actually have to be three things at play at the exact same time. Your student does have to have one or more disabilities that are covered under the IDA and as I said, we have 13 the student is not making effective progress in school because of the disability. So due to their disability, they are not making effective progress, what is effective progress, and that has been played out a lot in the courts. And that is usually the argument that we have is that parents and school districts disagree on the level of progress a student is making and whether it is or is not appropriate. And then finally, they have to look at whether the student requires special education in order to make effective progress.

 

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So will specialized instruction help this student work through their disability, remediate the disability and help them make effective progress in school. That is another area in which we often disagree. If you want to go back to my podcast on section 504 versus the IEP, you can get a whole episode on why that is. So let's say your student does have a disability, and they are not making effective progress. And they do require specialized instruction, what is the process? And how quickly can you get services for your child? Well, you can't just walk into the building and ask for an IEP meeting and say, my child has a disability, they're not successful in school, and they required specialized instruction and boom, it happens. First, you have to discuss the referral to special education, there needs to be a referral. And there's an IEP meeting to discuss that referral and whether evaluations will take place, assuming evaluations are agreed to and the parent signed consent for them. The school has 30 working days to evaluate the student and then 15 working days to hold the IEP meeting to discuss eligibility. So generally, we talk about that as 45 working school days timelines are a very hot topic right now. Because as I am recording this, we are on the brink of closing down gear in Connecticut for our second wave of school closures due to the COVID virus. And there have been a lot of questions about what the timelines mean under COVID closures. So when the government closes down all schools, we do have a few questions about timelines, it's a little hard to hold schools accountable for conducting in person evaluations when the state has shut down all schools. So there are a lot of questions around that and around what transpired last spring when schools closed unexpectedly and without proper planning. Now, however, they're going to close again, and it is certainly our hope that they learned quite a bit from the last closures. Although from what I have observed, it appears that schools spent their resources in trying to stay open as late as they could, rather than investing in good training and tech to provide good virtual instruction. That's just my little piddly opinion over here is I don't have high expectations. But one thing about timelines is that if the schools are open, the timelines are running. And that is whether they are in hybrid or distance or not. Further, I believe there's a very strong argument that if the school chooses to close, but it is not mandated by the state or the government, then those timelines should continue. And your school district should still be held accountable to those timelines. There is a different situation when the Gov shuts everything down, and it's out of everyone's control. But if your school district has made the individual decision to shut down, then your timelines still remain. Now if your child is then at the end of that 45 days, you have your IEP meeting and you determine that your child is eligible for special education, then you're going to have to develop an IEP an individual education program. And what that IP will consist of is your child's strengths and weaknesses. The parents concerns long term goals for the entire year. And that's a 12 month year, not just the school year, as well as short term objectives to meet within that year, your IP will outline any accommodations or modifications that your child requires in the regular education classroom all the way through standardized state testing. So in any location where they require that that should be identified in their IEP what related services they may be getting. So if your child qualifies for Occupational Therapy, or speech and language therapy or counseling, those items will be in the IEP as well as how often your child receives them and where your child receives them. Is your child receiving those services in the regular education classroom? Are they receiving it in a substantially separate classroom, all of those pieces need to be outlined. And then the parents signed consent to implement special education for your child that starts the timeline for when they can begin special education services. And typically, that is around five days, but you can agree with your team to implement it sooner if everyone is in agreement, and the team is prepared to implement sooner. So I mentioned the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, otherwise known as the ID, EA. And there are six main principles of the ID EA. I'm going to list them here and then go into them in a little more detail. So first, we have the free appropriate public education or what you may know as fate. There's also an appropriate evaluation, the Individualized Education Program or the IEP, a least restrictive environment, or LRE, parent involvement and procedural safeguards. These are all principles of the IDA that have been outlined to protect parents and students with disabilities. So let's talk about parent and student participation. What does that look like? Well, parents have the right to participate

 

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In all special education, planning and decision making activities that have to do with their student, they must be included in IEP meetings. And any other meeting that makes decisions around your student. Students are always the focus of the special education program. And as they grow older, we expect them to be a part of their planning. At a certain point, schools are obligated to start inviting students to their IEP meetings, and in some states, it's 14 in some states at 16. Definitely look up your state regs and determine that However, you can decide that your students should come to the IEP meeting at any age. So if you would like your child to start attending at an early age to understand the process, and you believe that something that they are capable of, and that they would benefit from, then you may absolutely invite them. But that is your choice. So if you do not believe that it would be appropriate for your child to attend a meeting, say you know that there's going to be an argument, you just don't think your child should observe it, it is up to you whether they are invited or not, though, do not let a school district tell you that they have to have them there, you are still holding the rights for your child until they turn 18. So you get to make that decision. It's also really important for school districts to make sure that they have made every effort to get parents to the meeting. I've heard parents say, Well, I work until five. And it's absolutely unrealistic and unreasonable that they want me to attend a meeting during the day, I understand that I'm also a working parent, and I have four children with IPS and I do get it. But schools are open generally, from about seven to four, we don't really have a right to ask them to hold all of their IP meetings at 7pm, at night or on weekends. And in general, given that most students have one IP meeting a year, sometimes two, but generally most have one when there's no dispute, it's not an unreasonable request for parents to carve that time out to attend the meeting during the school day. That being said, many times parents get a notice a letter in the mail that says this is the date and time of your IP meeting. And if you missed that piece of mail, or if it's not on a date that works for you, and you only got five days in advance, which is acceptable, because they do have to get it to five days in advance. But that's it. And you might not be able to clear your schedule that quickly, then you need to reach out to your school district to reschedule and they need to make every effort to make sure that happens. I've had school districts say well, we only hold IEP meetings on a Wednesday and that's it that is too restrictive, expecting them to hold their IEP meetings on the weekend is also not reasonable. So there definitely needs to be a meeting in the middle. In addition, once your child turns 18, the rights that you held for them now pass on to them. So they now hold all of the participation and decision making rights and authorities under the IDI many students at the age of 18. Whether they have been involved in their IEP meetings or not are not interested in taking on that responsibility. And in my practice, what I have found works is very often if the student writes a letter stating that they would like their parents to remain the decision makers for the purpose of the IDA and their special education needs. school districts will honor that that is at least here in Connecticut with districts that I have worked with. If that is not acceptable to your district, then again, I would call an attorney or advocate in your area and find out what parents do in your area. I'm not going to talk about conservatorship at all here. But I would like to say that it is a lot more complicated than most people know. And so while it may seem like a very easy fix, if you are the parent who wants to be able to continue to make these decisions for your child until they are 21, or 22, but they're not going to need your conservatorship. After that, then please do really seriously look into it, because there are some pitfalls to conservatorship that could seriously impact you and your rights with your child. So make sure if you choose to do that you are going through the proper process and that you know all of the pros and cons of what you are doing. So that is parent participation. Next we'll move on to the free appropriate public education free I'd like to think is a little obvious. It means that no cost to the parent that means that you should not be paying for it. That means that if your child requires per their IP, say an iPad in the classroom, then the school district needs to be providing that iPad in the classroom. Whether the school needs to provide that iPad to go home with your student to work at home will depend very much on your child's disability and on their IEP. But if they do require it in school, the school district must provide it the services must be appropriate. So what is appropriate appropriate services Our services are sufficient to enable the student to progress in education and work towards meeting their IEP goals and objectives. This has been litigated many, many times and will continue to be and the definition of appropriate will continue to grow. But right now what it means is that your child needs to be made

 

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Making progress and that their IEP is appropriately challenging for them. So not just making progress. But if you have a child who's making progress on goals and objectives that are way below their skill level, that is not sufficient, your child needs to also be challenged. school needs to be public, which means it needs to be provided by the public school district or under the direction of your public school district. And definitely, as I said earlier, paid for by your public school district, and education under the ID EA is preschool, elementary and secondary school, including extracurriculars, and non academic school activities. It also includes social emotional concerns, as well as activities of daily living, any areas in which your child needs to learn in order to be an independent contributing member of society needs to be in their IEP. So how do we get to all of these pieces? Well, we start with the evaluation, and the evaluation and appropriate evaluation is one of the principles of the ID EA. And what that allows you is an initial evaluation. So when your child is referred to special education, and we're making that determination, is this child eligible? Do they have a disability do they require a specialized instruction, you are entitled to that initial evaluation, and then that evaluation has to be redone every three years, and that is called the triennial evaluation where you reassess the child see what progress they have made and make a determination as to whether they are still eligible for special education. Because if your child has made significant progress on all of their goals and objectives, they may no longer qualify for special education. So special education is not something that you automatically have for your entire educational career. It is what you have for the time that you are eligible for these evaluations have to be individualized assessments, they have to be non discriminatory assessments, they have to include a variety of tools and strategies, including information provided by the parent, any other providers who work with a student who might have insight into the student's needs as it pertains to education and any staff in the school. So for example, if your child spends an inordinate amount of time with the school nurse, you're going to want to make sure that the school nurse is in that discussion over what evaluations need to be provided, because every area of suspected disability needs to be investigated. And when I say every area of disability, I mean every area of disability as they are defined under the idea we need to assess a school has the right to conduct those evaluations themselves, first with their staff. And that also has been well litigated I have parents call me all the time with wonderful reasons as to why the school staff should not be evaluating their child first, and many of those reasons are completely valid, but the law is very clear school districts get to do their evaluations first. Now, this does not mean you have to if you feel that this would be detrimental to your child. Of course, you can refuse the evaluation however, and please don't stop listening right there. If you say no to evaluations, you are impacting your rights, and you may be impacting what you're entitled to later down the road. So before you say no to any evaluation of any kind, no matter how ridiculous that sounds, please, please please consult with an attorney or advocate and find out whether it makes sense to refuse that evaluation or not. So after we get the evaluation, and we determined that the child is eligible, another principle of the ID EA is the IEP, the individualized education program. The IEP is basically a roadmap for your child's education, it's going to encompass your child's strengths and weaknesses, parents concerns an explanation of how the disability impacts your student and their ability to learn. It's going to identify long term goals, which are measurable, as well as short term objectives that are also measurable under those goals to be worked on across the year. Again, that's a 12 month year, not just the nine months of school, that doesn't mean your child automatically gets 12 months of services, but that is the how long the IEP runs. So if you have a student who also requires 12 months of services, that is a different conversation that you would have in your IEP meeting. And that would be called an extended school year, which I'm not going to get into right now. But I want you to understand that the dates of the IEP is for 12 months, but that does not necessarily mean you are getting services for those full 12 months. And your IEP is also going to list all of the accommodations and modifications that your child requires, as well as any of the related services your child receives and where they receive them. So speaking of where they receive them, that brings me to the next principle of the I DEA, which is the least restrictive environment or LRE. What LRE means is that your child should be in the least restrictive environment that is appropriate to them. So not every child is going to benefit through us Moses by being in close proximity to non disabled peers. That's just not how

 

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Works period. So for some students, in order to get to that least restrictive environment, they do need a very restrictive environment to start. Because remember, the ultimate goal of your child's IEP is to teach them how to be as independent as possible not to keep them in the least restrictive environment period. It's just not, it says appropriate and they mean appropriate. So if your child regular education classroom is the least restrictive environment, but there are not sufficient supports and services in that classroom for your child to make meaningful progress, then they need to be pulled from that until they can. On the other hand, just because it is easier to educate your child in a more restrictive environment does not mean that the school district gets to do that children should be provided the supports and services they need in the classroom. And there are a number of things that can be done in the classroom to help support a child everything from priority seating to having another adult individual in that classroom helping your child. So there are a lot of possibilities for how your child can be serviced in the classroom without being removed. Again, this piece comes down to every individual child and what those evaluations say your child requires in order to make effective progress. So this brings me to the final principle, the ID EA, and that is procedural safeguards. procedural safeguards include the right to written notice the right for parents to consent or refuse services, evaluations, etc. The right to stay put, which I will address in a minute, the right to a resolution system, or what they now have is the resolution sessions, mediation and due process hearings. There are also timelines that the school district needs to stay within and those are considered part of your procedural safeguards. The fact that your child's records must be kept confidential is also a procedural safeguard and the right to receive the evaluations in advance of the IEP meetings if requested. So please, please, please, whenever you have an IEP meeting, if you're going to be discussing reports, evaluations, assessments updates, please ask your team in advance to provide that documentation to you that you are not sitting in the meeting blindsided by all this information that you now have to process at the same time you're listening to people discuss it. So I want to talk a little bit about some of the individual procedural safeguards to which you are entitled, and I'm going to start with mediation. Mediation is a voluntary process that you can enter into with the school district, I always recommend that parents confer with an attorney before attending a mediation. If the school district is attending a mediation, you can be certain that their attorney is involved in some way, shape or form. So for you to show up without an attorney will put you at a disadvantage. So please consult with someone before deciding to attend a mediation without counsel. That being said, it is a voluntary process. And it's available not only when a due process hearing has been requested, but it is available even if you have not filed for due process. So if you leave your IEP meeting, and you have a dispute with your school district, you can file for mediation and see if they will go now you can file and wait and see what their responses. But better practice would be requesting at that IEP meeting, how do I file for a mediation? Or would the school district be willing to go to mediation, mediation has a mediator assigned by the state and the state trains and appoints the mediator they are trained in the area of special education as well as mediation, or at least hopefully they are some are more versed than others. So be prepared to have to explain your situation as well as your disabilities and possibly the law behind it to your mediator. It depends on your state and how they were trained, and whether you have good ones or not. So you have to look into that yourself. mediations are also confidential. And that is critical to remember, if a school district tells you something in the mediation, you may not use that later. You may not sit in an IEP meeting and say, well, you said in mediation that and you may not sit in a due process hearing and testify to what the school district said in mediation. Mediation is confidential, there's a good reason for it. Your information is confidential as well. And without that confidentiality, it would not be possible to come to the number of agreements that we are able to come to to help families, please take that confidentiality component seriously. And if you come to an agreement in a mediation, you will get a written mediation agreement and that agreement is enforceable in a court of law. So if your school district does not follow the mediation agreement, it is a legally binding agreement and you can enforce it in state or federal court. It will be signed by you and the district and it will have that covered

 

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Confidentiality clauses we discussed. Now if mediation is not successful, the next step would be due process. And in due process hearings, we address issues of valuation identification, educational placement and faith, there is a 45 day time frame for due process hearing. Again, in COVID times these timeframes can be a little bit off. But generally, the timeframe from filing to a decision should be 45 days, do not expect a decision in 45 days, I've never heard of a due process hearing that did not have multiple, multiple extensions. It depends on your state and how they do them. But in our state, hearing dates are not sequential. So we could have four hearing dates over four months. if everyone's schedules don't allow for a sooner gathering. It's very important to keep track of that it's important because the statute does not want students lingering in programs that they are not benefiting from while the adults are fighting out the issues. So these timelines are there for a reason. And they are important, you are assigned an impartial hearing officer also provided by the state and trained by the state, again, depends on your state and how they're trained and who they are. But if you were in a due process hearing, first of all, I hope you have an attorney. I know some states allow advocates to do it. And in any state parents are allowed to do it themselves. But parents do not prevail the majority of the time. In fact, the school district prevails nationally significantly more often than parents. And so if you look at just that statistic, it is critical that you have an attorney who understands the process and what needs to get done. No school district goes to due process hearing without an attorney, or at least I'm not familiar with them. So again, you would be putting yourself at a huge disadvantage. If you attend a due process hearing without an attorney. Now how your due process system works and whether and how you appeal. It depends on whether your state has a one or two tiered system. I am in Connecticut, where we have a one tier system but in the state next to us New York, they have a two tier system. And that means that there is a way to appeal it within the state before going to federal or state court. So how you appeal it within your department of education. in general. In hearings, you have the right to be represented by an attorney or in some states assisted by a lay advocate, you'll present evidence to the hearing officer and you'll put on witnesses and you'll direct question them and cross examine the board's witnesses at the end of that you then write a significant brief that goes to the hearing officer, and then they after reviewing all of the evidence and all of the testimony and both sides briefs will issue a decision, parents can choose whether they want their hearings to be open or closed. And what that means is that the hearing if it's open, that means anyone from the public can come. Some parents like that idea. And some attorneys like that idea because it makes or it can make a matter more high profile if need be. So if making the situation known to the community will be helpful in some way, whether to the matter itself or to address systemic issues that may be going on within the school system, that might be a good way to go. But when you have an open hearing, you are losing a significant amount of confidentiality for your child, and all of that information, anyone can show up and listen to the testimony. So you have to really weigh that against whatever benefits you believe there would be for having an open hearing. Personally, I love it when people have open hearings because I love to go and watch and see how different attorneys do it how different hearing officers respond. It's just I'm kind of a dork. So I like to do that. But it may not be the right thing for you. You also have the right to have your student present at the hearing. I am not familiar with many hearings, where a student is present, it is often not appropriate for variety of reasons to have the student at the hearing. And then you are entitled to a written decision. I'm going a little out of order, but I'm going to talk about resolution sessions. After you file for a due process hearing the school district is obligated to hold a resolution session and that resolution session occurs unless both parties have waived the right to the resolution session and requested mediation. For us here in Connecticut. We always do that we waive the resolution session and we go to mediation. I have spoken with attorneys and other states who say that resolution sessions are highly successful in their state. So again, it depends on where you are and your district. So do your research and find out where you are and how your district handles resolution sessions and whether that is a productive means of resolution for you. Now resolution sessions. Resolution sessions do not necessarily have attorneys at them. If the parent chooses to attend a

 

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resolution session without an attorney, even if due process is pending, the school district may not bring their attorney under no circumstances may they attend. If, however, you do bring an attorney with you to the resolution session, then the school district may bring their own attorney, if you come to an agreement in your resolution session, then that agreement is going to be in writing and it's going to be legally binding. Which means that if the school district does not hold up their end of the agreement, you can go straight to court and enforce the agreement. If you're unable to resolve the issues and you end up going to a hearing, then that decision is also going to be written and it is going to be in forcible in a state or federal court It is also appealable. So if you do not agree with the decision, or the school district does not agree with the decision, either side can appeal the decision within 90 days, winning at the hearing level is not necessarily the end of the journey. I know some attorneys who don't even expect to win at the hearing level, they their entire strategy is to go for an appeal. And then there are other people who don't ever need to get into a hearing. Because the matters resolved. Not every hearing decision is appealed because both sides have to give some serious thought as to whether they want to go into the time and money it will cost to appeal the decision and what ramifications there might be if they lose, because if you lose on an issue, then you've just created law on that issue that other people have to abide by. So it's not an automatic decision to appeal. Now, where is your child during all of this, you have a dispute with your school district and you are going to resolution sessions and mediations and maybe a hearing and maybe it takes six months. So where's your student during all of this? Well, that is what we refer to as stay put in some states they call it pendency. Basically, unless otherwise agreed to the student will remain in the last agreed upon placement. The last agreed upon placement is the last IP that both parties agreed to or a hearing officer decision. So if your student was placed in a private, Special Education School by your school district, they were placed there they were transported, it was paid for by your school district. And you end up in a due process hearing your child can remain in that program until they're finished. Similarly, if your student was in the public school, then they will remain in that program until the end of the hearing. Obviously, as a parent, you have choices, you can always choose to provide a private education to your child while you are going through this process. And there are a lot of legalities around that. So please do not do that without talking to an attorney. But the stay put rule is that whatever the school district was paying for before the hearing, they will pay for during the hearing so that your child's education does not have to get disrupted during that time. The exceptions for that are dangerousness if there is a serious danger issue for the child, then, under certain circumstances, the school district may be able to change their placement and if there's a final decision by a hearing officer. So when you get that final hearing officer decision that becomes the state placement. The last thing I want to talk about is attorneys fees. Long story short, the court can award attorneys fees and costs to the parent who prevailed. So if you won in a hearing, you can file in federal court to get your attorneys fees reimbursed.

 

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Now, if the school district prevails, they do not have that same right unless they can demonstrate that the parent filed a complaint that is frivolous, unreasonable without foundation or simply to prolong litigation, then they may seek attorneys fees from the parent, but it is not easy to do. There was one matter, I believe in Connecticut actually, where the attorney had filed for due process to hold up an expulsion so that the student could graduate from high school without the expulsion on their record. And in doing so they were they were successful. But the school district attorneys then prevailed and sought the attorneys fees from the attorney and the parents because both can be found liable for those because the purpose of it was completely frivolous and solely to prolong litigation to delay an expulsion so the child could graduate so that was clearly done as a strategic tactic and not because the child had any special education issues at all. So that is my very general overview of special education from beginning to end. I hope that you found it helpful. And I look forward to talking to you next week when I'm actually going to have on the two co-chairs of the conference committee for the council parent attorneys and advocates and we are going to talk about their conference and how that can also

 

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also help educate you as a parent of a child with disabilities so that you can best advocate for your child.