We can have the best of intentions when it comes to the special education journey. When the onset of a potential issue with your child becomes a full-blown diagnosis, with tests and consultations, things can escalate very quickly. With meetings and data comes expectations for success. When those expectations are not met or there are disagreements with approach, the next step for many parents is calling an education attorney.
Before you pick up the phone…
There are a lot of steps before educational disagreements with your child’s school should escalate to a legal level. Many parents are in the dark about their child’s rights when it comes to special education and more so about when those rights have actually been violated or not. Special education law is complex. There are absolutely times when a stalemate has been reached and an education attorney is the next logical step. Let’s talk about those steps prior to a legal consultation. Shall we?
Gather Up All Of Your Documentation First
There is a lot of paperwork that goes into building a case for an IEP or a 504. Keep track of all of it. Many parents resort to stuffing them all into a manilla folder or envelope. The important thing is keeping it all in one place. You will also want a complete copy of your child’s school records. Under FERPA regulations, you have a right to all of the information contained in your child’s school records. If they refuse to furnish it to you or leave parts of it out, make a note of what is missing for future reference, should you need to consult with an education attorney.
You should have on-hand:
- All testing documentation inside and outside of school
- Any email conversations you have had with school officials or other service providers
- Notes you have taken on what has transpired and what action was taken
- Your child’s school records
- Report cards and progress notes
If you haven’t been taking notes on your child’s education journey with your school, do it now. Go back and write a chronological timeline as best you can remember. Your education attorney will likely ask about the chain of events. This is one way you can prepare for any future conversations you might have with one.
Note Who’s Who For Your Education Attorney
One of the major missteps parents make when they consult with an education attorney is not documenting key players. This is not something people have all the time. You will need the name and title of everyone you have interacted with on your child's education journey so far. Write a brief description of what they do and where they are.
Your education attorney should be looking to find a resolution before needing to get to scheduling court dates. Mediation is usually the first step after your attorney has reviewed all of the records, notes, discussions and is as fully prepared as they can be before they sit across the conference room table with the school’s team. After a few meetings, there is often an agreement going forward that might not have been reached before. This is a good thing. It gets very complicated once the negotiations stop and an agreement to take it to court comes into play. You will want to deal with an education attorney who seeks to bring everyone together first before hauling everyone into court.
Your attorney coming to mediation meetings understanding who will be there and why will go a long way in helping you and them settle into the mediation. In order to best prepare yourself and your education attorney, know who is coming to the mediation meeting and confirm with someone ahead of time as to who you can tell your education attorney to expect.
Keeping Records For Your Education Attorney In One Place
It’s happened so many times before. You tell your education attorney in great detail what happened between you and a school official and your attorney starts asking questions about things you never thought to ask about. Back to the drawing board; now you have to follow up with the school official again to find out the rest of the information you didn’t know to ask. Then you have to put in an email or a document so you have a record of it.
There are times when emails back and forth can be the least productive thing you can do to help your child on their education journey, especially when it involves conversations with multiple people. The frustration mounts when information you know you had suddenly doesn’t seem to be anywhere to be found.
eCare Vault is the first care management solution that follows an individual throughout their lifespan, regardless of age or reason for needing care management. The reasons that users take advantage of eCare Vault are as varied as the loved ones they manage care for. Your child’s education journey is just one great way you can use eCare Vault to store all of your documents, notes, test results, communication for all to collaborate in one cloud-based, secure platform.
Don’t resort to notebooks and manilla folders stuffed with papers and sticky notes. eCare Vault provides a way for parents, specialists and education attorneys to come together for the benefit of your child’s education journey in one place.