Public schools have a duty to provide an appropriate education to every child, even those with special needs. If your child's needs are not being met by his or her school, you will need to file a due process request with the local school board. While this is not an actual trial, it is very similar to one — you will need to provide documentation, witnesses and experts in order to make it more likely that the school board will honor your request. A special education lawyer has the experience and knowledge necessary to help you with this process. To help you secure your child's right to an appropriate education, here are some times when you may want to consider hiring a special education lawyer.
Your Child Regularly Fails to Meet Educational Goals
When you work with your child's school to develop an individual education plan, you're working together to ensure that your child meets educational milestones that are appropriate for your child. If your child frequently fails to meet these milestones, it could be an indication that the individual education plan is not adequate or it is not being implemented correctly by your child's school. Schools have a responsibility to give every child a free and appropriate public education, and must work to ensure that the educational needs of every child are met — if you believe that your child's school is not providing your child with a proper education, contact a special education lawyer. He or she may be able to help you seek alternate forms of education through a due process request with the local school board.
Your Child Is in an Unsafe Classroom
You may not feel that the classroom environment is safe for your child. Due to budget constraints, some schools place children of wide age ranges together in the same special needs classes — this can create an unsafe environment when children as far as four years apart share the same classroom together. In addition, your child's special education teacher and classroom aide may be unable to control the classroom, leading to potentially dangerous situations. If you believe that your child is exposed to an unsafe classroom environment, contact a special education lawyer to seek help with placing your child at a different school or in another classroom.
Your Child Is Being Bullied at School
Bullying is an epidemic in the school system, and children with special needs are often victims. Bullying can lead to a fear of attending school and disrupt your child's education. If your child is being bullied at school, it's important to notify the school immediately in writing. If they do not take steps to fix the problem and create a safe learning environment for your child, contact a special education lawyer. You may be able to change policies at your school to prevent bullying from occurring or your child may be able to transfer into a different school.
Overall, you'll need to be your child's advocate in the public school system — if your child's school is not fulfilling their obligation to provide your child with an education, you should take action and hire a special education lawyer. In some cases, problems with your child's school can be resolved without the need to file a due process request with the school board. A special education lawyer may be able to help you and the staff at your child's school come to an agreement through mediation, which allows you to help your child without going through lengthy legal processes.
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