What happens when you have your IEP meeting and the school doesn’t give your child what you want? Do you give up or is there way to fight their decision?
The answer is yes, you can fight their decision. You can take it to a due process hearing. This hearing is basically a trial where a judge decides what kind of services your child will get.
So what kind of trial is it? Is it like Law and Order where you go to a fancy courtroom and get up in front of the jury and argue? No, not at all. These trials are in front of a judge only and no jury. Also, the judges are a special type of judge called an administrative law judge. They only decide cases in their area of expertise: in this case special services for your child. But other than that the same rules as trials apply. You can object, introduce evidence, bring in expert witnesses, the whole nine yards.
One great way I like to do these trials is have the parents testify. If you read my earlier post this week about IEP meetings, I talked about how I firmly believe that parents are the ultimate experts when it comes to their children. So when you are arguing in front of a judge that Johnny needs speech therapy and the school district should provide it, what better way to prove it then having the parents testify? If the mother testifies and says that Johnny was behaving so well at home when he had a speech therapist, but after the nasty school district took the therapist away Johnny has been acting up, don’t you think the judge will consider this? Absolutely!
Now just because the parent testifies doesn’t mean we stop there. Almost always I bring in an expert that can talk about the mental conditions of the child. Having a speech pathologist come in and tell the judge that they evaluated your child and based upon their expertise they recommend speech therapy is priceless.
Winning a due process hearing for special education can be huge for your child. In some cases the judge can even have the child enrolled in private school and have the school district fund it. These happen in cases where the child is special needs but also gifted. It also happens if the child is too severe on the special needs spectrum and they would need to be placed at a specialized private school.
Now compare that with giving up when the school district first tells you that they won’t give you what they want. Some school districts do this on purpose just to make the parents go away. But if you continue to fight for your case and advocate for your child, you could get some great results.
How Can I Help?
If you have any more questions about these due process special education hearings, contact me for a consultation at email@example.com or 626-432-1699 and ask to speak with me. Check out my website at www.lblawoffices.com.
Joseph Lee is a partner at Lee & Baghoomian, a boutique law firm with offices in Pasadena and Westlake Village handling estate planning and special needs advocacy.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not meant to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship will be formed by this blog post.