With all the aspects of raising a child with disabilities, the last thing on your mind should be whether or not your school is doing its part to teach and educate. Unfortunately, even with increased pressure from federal and state laws, schools let many students fall through the cracks of the system. Without access to a free and appropriate public education, children do not get the social and educational skills they would normally acquire.
Since the 1970s, the federal government has provided increasing accommodations for children with disabilities. By 1990, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (I.D.E.A.) provided schools with a method to make sure that all students were receiving a free and appropriate public education using Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). In Texas, IEPs are determined at Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Hearings.
FAPE — a Free & Appropriate Public Education — was established in the I.D.E.A. as a clear way to make sure that children with disabilities were getting the best opportunity to learn. It establishes IEPs at no charge to parents, providing the “least restrictive environment” for the student. This puts students in specialized classrooms only when it wouldn’t be appropriate to include them in a regular class environment.
But even with clear guidelines, not all students get the same access to education. Teachers, administrators, schools and districts all make errors and misjudge situations. Our lawyers and paralegals have decades of experience working with parents and schools at the state and federal levels to get children the education they deserve.
With just one call, we can start to review your child’s education records, including evaluations, the current IEP and any correspondence from the school district.
It’s not enough to know that your child deserves more. You need an experienced lawyer to fight for your child’s right to a free and appropriate public education.
At Cuddy Law Firm, we understand the financial burdens of raising a child with disabilities. We take your finances into account when we discuss costs of representation and we will work with you to make sure that your child comes first. We offer reduced- and no-cost services to qualifying clients and can in some cases recover our fees from the offending school district if we win.
Don’t be afraid of how much it will cost; our commitment is to offering a free and appropriate public education to all children.
Before pursuing her career in law, Elizabeth Angelone was an award-winning teacher and administrator in Texas public schools. She knows the trouble that many parents have to go through to make sure their children get the education they deserve. Between her classroom experience and joining Cuddy Law Firm, she practiced in a variety of law affecting children, including family law and juvenile crime, allowing her to understand the consequences of a mismanaged education and driving her to help parents with unresponsive schools. She’s a member of COPAA, one of the most important networks of lawyers, advocates and parents dedicated to every child’s right to an equal, quality education.
*Prior Results Do Not Guarantee A Similar Outcome
A hearing officer had ruled against the parent in a rather difficult case. A child with autism was being denied a teacher in his classroom as a result of the district terminating the teacher’s employment.
The district launched a vicious attack on the parents who, as a result of repeated injuries to their child while in the hands of educators, were not sending their child to this teacher-less program.
The IHO initially determined that while there was a denial of FAPE, the district was not responsible for providing a FAPE to the child in the future unless and until the parents themselves found a different program for the child. (They’d been searching for an alternative program for over six months, without success.) The IHO also attempted to strip the parents of their rights by directing the appointment of a third party to make all educational decisions for the child — past and future.
We appealed the decision to the State Review Officer who annulled the entire IHO order and ruled in favor of the parents, ordering compensatory services for those that were denied as a result of the teacher’s termination. This hearing was conducted over thirteen days, with the school district’s lawyer consuming twelve days of hearing on a relatively straightforward issue. Instead, our lawyers presented the parents’ case in one day, staying focused on the issues.
The rural school district had paid their lawyer nearly $200,000 in its attempts to deprive this young student of appropriate services. By fighting back, the student’s parents got him the education he deserved.
A school district had initiated a hearing against the parent of an autistic child, requesting an expedited hearing to have the child with autism removed from his educational placement due to safety concerns.
Since entering the program offered by the District, the child’s behaviors deteriorated significantly. Rather than fix the program or find a new program, the District chose to ask a hearing officer for his school day to be reduced to a half-day day — in the unsafe school setting! The rationale offered by the District in hearing was that the student’s half-day program would limit his interaction with others and therefore the inappropriate placement would only be unsafe for half the day, as opposed to all day.
We initiated a cross-complaint, agreeing that the child needed to be removed from the inappropriate program due to safety concerns and placed in an appropriate Interim Alternative Educational Setting (IAES). The IHO ruled in favor of the parents and ordered the District to provide in-home services by an outside agency, with related services and adaptive physical education for full days of programming. She also ordered corrective services for the seven days that the District had suspended the student and failed to provide any service to him.
Cuddy Law Firm practices law in many levels of federal and state hearings. Learn more about how we can help your child: