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Read the stories of parents like you and how they fought, successfully, for their childrens’ rights to special education services provided under the law.

Success in the Court of Appeals

On August 17, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued its decision in Krawietz by Parker v. Galveston Indep. Sch. Dist., No. 17-40461, 2018 WL 3965619 (5th Cir. Aug. 17, 2018). The Cuddy Law Firm represented the appellants, Ashley Krawietz and her mother, Amanda Parker. Andrew Cuddy and Jason Sterne handled the case for the Firm, with Mr. Cuddy appearing in Houston for the oral argument. Dorene Philpot, of Galveston, Texas, represented the parent in the due process hearing.

In Ashley’s case, a special education hearing officer determined that Galveston Independent School District deprived Ashley, a high school student with a disability, of a free appropriate public by failing to fulfill its Child Find duty in a timely manner. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas upheld the hearing officer’s decision and awarded Ashley’s mother attorneys’ fees and expenses. On appeal, Galveston argued that it did not violate the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and that Ashley is not a “prevailing party” entitled to attorneys’ fees. The Court of Appeals upheld the decisions of the hearing officer and the District Court in their entirety.  The ability of families to rely on the fee shifting provision of the IDEA and recoup their legal fees is a crucial component of the law. It allows families access to legal representation when they might be unable to afford the cost. 

The Cuddy Law Firm focuses on special education law and has empowered parents to advocate for their children’s rights. The Firm serves families throughout New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and North Carolina.

Decision Case No. 17-40461 Krawietz v Galveston ISD

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Allowing Home Instruction

A 6-year-old girl was undergoing chemotherapy and couldn’t attend school because the treatment weakened her immune system.

Then the school district refused to provide instruction at her home.

Cuddy Law Firm took her case to a hearing on accommodations – like home instruction – that should be provided under a Section 504 plan for the girl.

An Impartial Hearing Officer in New York decided in favor of the girl. The hearing officer ordered 35 hours of makeup instruction and an assessment of what she needed for the next school year.

Her parents, with help from Cuddy Law Firm, made sure the child’s illness didn’t deprive her of the opportunity to learn.

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Providing Spanish Translation

The mother of a child with autism was a native Spanish speaker and didn’t understand what was happening in school with her child. The child, meanwhile, wasn’t receiving the proper services.

Cuddy Law Firm intervened, winning a decision from a hearing officer that the school deprived the child of a legally required free and appropriate public education.

The officer determined the child’s best option was enrolling in a day treatment program or a residential program. The officer directed the district to create a new individualized education program (IEP) for the child and place the child in the right setting.

Soon the child entered a residential program.

On top of that, the officer ordered the district to translate IEP documents into Spanish for the mother and provide an interpreter for IEP meetings. Now she could fully participate in making the best decisions for her child.

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Failing to follow the IEP

In a case involving an incredible breakdown of organization within a school, the school failed to place a girl with disabilities in the kind of small class her individualized education program (IEP) called for.

She was supposed to be in a class with a teacher, an assistant and no more than eight students, what’s known as an 8:1:1 setting. But she ended up in a larger and different class altogether.


Early in the school year she wandered into the wrong class and the teaching staff just let her stay.

The committee on special education (CSE) overseeing her instructional plan didn’t even know she was going to the wrong class.

The school simply wasn’t carrying out her IEP.

Cuddy Law Firm stepped in to help.

The result: A hearing officer ordered the school district to place her in an eight-student setting, ordered 60 hours of makeup occupational therapy she was supposed to be receiving, ordered a new behavioral assessment of the girl and ordered the district to develop a new IEP for her.

And a stunning oversight was corrected.

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Depriving a Child of his Teacher

A school district terminated a teacher’s job, leaving a boy with autism without someone to lead his classroom.

The child had suffered repeated injuries while in the school’s care, so when he didn’t even have a teacher, his parents pulled him out of school. They searched for an alternative program but struggled to find one.

The school district attacked the parents for removing the child. A hearing officer decided the district wasn’t responsible for providing a free and appropriate education and placed the burden on the parents to find the alternative program.

Cuddy Law Firm took the case to a state review officer. The district fought hard against the family, taking up 12 days of hearing time and spending almost $200,000 on their lawyer.

But Cuddy Law Firm, and most importantly, the boy with autism, won.

The state officer ordered the district to provide the services it denied when it fired the teacher. By fighting back, the parents successfully protected their child’s right to an appropriate education.

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Improper Services

A school district failed to provide a child with autism the appropriate speech therapy, specialized reading instruction, counseling and occupational therapy that the child needed.

It also failed to provide the parents with the proper training and counseling they were supposed to be receiving.

Cuddy Law Firm took the case to a hearing where Mike Cuddy worked in conjunction with attorney Harriet Scheifer of the Littman Krooks law firm. And the collaboration was powerful.

The hearing officer ordered the school district to develop a new individualized education program and provide all the needed services to the child.

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Moved to a Non-Public School

After a student moved to a non-public school, the school district denied the child an individualized education program (IEP).

Jason Sterne from Cuddy Law Firm represented the parent. Jason and the parent succeeded.

The officer ordered school officials to develop an IEP within 20 days and extend services such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy and one hour a day of academic instruction to the child.

The child could finally receive the right services in the most appropriate setting.

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Indifference to a Child

A school failed to provide a child with autism the proper speech therapy services. He suffered from apraxia, a neurological condition hindering his physical ability to move his mouth and tongue in order to form words.

Incredibly, when the family tried to work out an agreement with the school district to provide the needed services, a district representative said he preferred to “roll the dice” with a hearing before an Impartial Hearing Officer.

Mike Cuddy represented the boy in what turned out to be a four-day hearing focusing on the boy’s needs related to apraxia.

And the district official placed the wrong bet.

The hearing officer ordered a new individualized education program (IEP) adding speech services to address the boy’s oral-motor deficits and calling for the use of a recognized, systemic program to address his speech.

The IHO also ordered the IEP to include counseling and training for the parents.

And the boy finally received services appropriate to his needs.

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Appropriate Services for a Child with Autism

A New York City child with autism wasn’t receiving the appropriate services.

The parents, with help from Cuddy Law Firm, stepped in to make a change.

The result was comprehensive.

A hearing officer ordered the district to let the child enroll in a non-public school by issuing a notice called a Nickerson Letter.

The officer also ordered occupational therapy, speech language therapy and 10 hours a week of home-based applied behavioral analysis.

And the officer ordered further psycho-educational evaluation, updated speech evaluation and updated occupational therapy evaluation for the child.

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Getting an Independent Evaluation

When a district refused to reimburse a parent for an independent evaluation of a child, Cuddy Law Firm stepped in and secured $2,975 for the neuropsychological evaluation.

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Getting More Evaluation

A hearing officer ordered a new individualized education program for a child, an audiological evaluation, a vocational assessment and 40 hours of occupational therapy focused on life skills training after Cuddy Law Firm stepped in to help the family.

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Help for a Speech Impairment

When a school district failed to address the needs of a student with a speech impairment, the child’s parents and Cuddy Law Firm intervened.

A hearing officer ordered the school to develop a new individualized education program. The officer ordered the school to include counseling and speech therapy in the plan. The order required the school to provide testing accommodations to the child, such as granting more time for taking tests.

And the order required the school to place the child in a general classroom with support from a special education teacher who collaborates with the general education teacher, called Special Education Teacher Support Services, or SETSS.

The parents didn’t let the district ignore their child’s needs. Now the child finally has every chance at success.

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Addressing a Lapse

A child with disabilities went without the appropriate services for months.

The parents and Cuddy Law Firm stood up for the student and won an order from an Impartial Hearing Officer that the school district had to recoup the past services that it didn’t provide.

The IHO also ordered two hours a day of home services, unless the district got the student into a classroom setting in a timely fashion.

He ordered an assistive technology evaluation. And he ordered the district’s Central Based Support Team to prepare and submit applications for the student to attend non-public schools.

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Neglecting a Child’s Education Plan

After a school failed to evaluate a special education child for three years, a parent took the district to a hearing.

With Cuddy Law Firm’s Nina Aasen representing the child, the hearing officer ordered the school to develop a new individualized education program.

The officer ordered a comprehensive evaluation of the student, including an assistive technology evaluation, a reading evaluation and a psychological evaluation. And the district allowed the parent to place the child in a non-public school at district expense by issuing the family a Nickerson Letter.

When the parent, and Cuddy Law Firm, stood up to the system, the chance at a brighter future returned for the child.

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Cutting a Child’s Program

After entering a new school district program, the behavior of a boy with autism sharply deteriorated. Instead of fixing the program, the school cut it to half a day.

Incredibly, the district reasoned it was better for the child to have an unsafe setting for half the day instead of all day.

Cuddy Law Firm intervened, arguing the district was responsible for providing services that work for the child. In the end, the child and his parents prevailed.

A hearing officer ordered the district to serve the child in his home, full-time.

The officer required adaptive physical education and seven days of corrective services to make up for time that the district suspended the student. The parents stood up for their child and won him the help he deserves.

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Making a Better Future

Stepping back to a case from years ago: A school district called for a child with emotional disabilities to be placed in a classroom with six students, a teacher and an assistant, called a 6:1:1 setting.

But his mother needed help finding any class fitting that description.

Cuddy Law Firm stepped in and determined the boy shouldn’t learn in a separate small class. He instead needed to join a general education class with extra supports.

On the first day of the hearing, the family and district settled the case.

The district agreed to place the student in a general education class and even brought in an outside behavioral specialist to train the staff and return weekly for more training and monitoring.

Then the family moved to another state and faced a similar problem. The new district wanted to place the child in a special class in a separate school.

Once again Cuddy Law Firm helped the family resolve the situation, getting the boy back in a mainstream class with training and support from a consultant.

Now step forward to years later:

Cuddy Law Firm got an update from his mother. The student got into MIT.

That’s the kind of ultimate success that motivates us to help families and fight for children with disabilities to receive all the appropriate education services.

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