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Autism - Support Across the Spectrum Autism - Support Across the Spectrum

taking the school to court

Posted by on Mar. 17, 2013 at 10:21 PM
  • 21 Replies
What for? How did it go? How did you pay for it?
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by on Mar. 17, 2013 at 10:21 PM
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Replies (1-10):
JTMOM422
by Brenda on Mar. 17, 2013 at 10:53 PM

Sorry momma I have no idea. I would contact you Autism Support Group and see if they can give you more information. Maybe they could help you find an advocate

mypbandj
by Jen on Mar. 17, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Due process? Ugh I hear its a real pain in the butt. What's going on?
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dawncs
by Dawn on Mar. 17, 2013 at 11:33 PM

I have not been to due process myself, but I know it is not a quick and easy solution to what is happening at school. These cases tend to go on for years. You have to have all your documentation why the school placement and therapies recommended are not being handled to the standards of Least Restrictive Environment practices under law. This needs to be documented by your doctor when it comes to the therapies part. You need to take notes of when services are not being offered to your child when it is written in the IEP. You need a copy of school records and the special education file which is not cheap. You can find out a number of things with the due process or court cases through http://www.wrightslaw.com/ for free.

Dawn


Group owner of Different Learners Support Group (http://www.cafemom.com/group/118648)

mamaBerg85
by Member on Mar. 18, 2013 at 12:29 AM
I haven't done it before but I'm trying to get my daughters in a special needs school and I have a feeling it's going to come to that Expectually with my oldest. I don't want it to cost an arm and a leg and go on forever. I just want her to go to think school get some help and maybe someday she can transition back to public school. I'm just sooo nervous about tomorrows meeting.
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KatyTylersMom
by on Mar. 18, 2013 at 12:42 AM
2 moms liked this

We did what's called a "filing for due process" against the school district which basically means "hey, we brought our kid to you, expressed our concerns, you did jack and shit, now you will speak to our lawyers".  We found our lawyer through Mr. Google, who tends to know all, and I searched for "special education law in **my county**, **my state**).  Our lawyer was fairly costly, but then we live in a stupidly expensive area.  Rather than charge us by the hour, she charges a retainer fee where you pay that amount and then owe nothing more regardless of how much over that retainer her fees would have been.  If your case did end up going to trial, for example, with mediation failing then you might be looking at tens of thousands of dollars in billable hours, but you'd owe nothing as you had paid the retainer.   

These suits go to mediation first which is with you the parents, your lawyer, the school districts lawyer(s) and with a judge as your mediator.  The judge should be well versed in special education law, and ours showed up with about 10 pages of handwritten notes about our case on the morning of our mediation.  Sometimes you all sit around a table and discuss what you, the parents wants vs. what they, the school district is willing to give.  In our mediation the school district did not want to be in the same room (who knows why) so we sat in our conference room, with our lawyer, spoke to the judge, then he left and went into the school district's conference room and spoke with them. 

When you agree to the terms of the mediation - which should be INCREDIBLY detailed down to the minutes of speech therapy per week for X number of weeks per year, how many months/years they will get to be in XX program (special ed preschool, etc.), if they are eligible for summer programs to help not lose progress made during the school year, etc.  - it is NOT your IEP meeting, that is separate and while you CAN bring a lawyer, you don't have to. So this is not to set goals and criteria for meeting said goals with a timetable, this is purely to get your kid into XX school or YY program at their school, maybe speech/OT/PT through the school, social skills classes, etc. 

Finally, there will be discussion of $$$$.  Your lawyer will ask for their attorney's fees, for us it was also reimbursement for all the speech therapy we had paid for after the school blew off our daughter's symptoms as nothing more than an articulation disorder.  Your lawyer should be able to tell you prior to the meeting what proof of bills or payments you'll need to bring.  Again, if you have paid your attorney's retainer then you will owe no further money even if the lawyer's fees are denied as part of the mediation settlement.

Our mediation went fine so we did not have to bring our case to trial.  However, if you and the school district cannot agree then you'll go to trial.  I don't have any info on this other than it happens when the school district doesn't feel that they did anything wrong and don't think that you can prove otherwise.  Your lawyer should have statistics to discuss with you prior to bringing suit against the district saying how many times they've had to go to trial, what chances they feel your case has of not being resolved in mediation, etc. 

SO WAS IT WORTH IT??? Hell yes it was.  We paid $5,000 in a retainer, our lawyer was very professional and allowed NO SHIT from the school district in terms of "oh the parents didn't state their concerns about their daughter's developmental delays strongly enough" - she was all over them with "they stated their concerns.  You did nothing to evaluate whether their concerns were valid or not, overstated or understated.  YOU DID NOTHING."  Our daughter got into a TRULY fantastic special education preschool program (she just turned 4) where she will go for the remainder of this year and all of next school year (she has a late/early bday so can't go to kindergarden until 9/2014).  She has 1 hour of speech a week, she has 1 hour of social skills group, she has bus service (which for her is the best part - she LOVES that bus lol), and she is doing GREAT which is really the point.  Her language is improving, her ability to express herself (mommy i'm so MAD showed up last week lol) is improving, and she is starting to understand the concept of a friend and that she might want to be one. 

girl_incognito
by on Mar. 18, 2013 at 5:59 AM

I did not take them to court. I filed a complaint on them with the dept. of ed after years of mess. I had a wonderful advocate through our state's disability rights office. Our case was taken for free. I had a lawyer through them too. They took our case based on the severity of it.

How'd it go? Well in the end  the dictrict was found in violation of my son's civil rights... they also had to pay for a placement that was better suited for his needs. 

Oh and what for? it was for violation of IDEA for not providing him with a FAPE...

girl_incognito
by on Mar. 18, 2013 at 6:13 AM

As I stated above, I went through the complaint process... kind of like due process. I'm sure you are familiar with the differences and similarities... We did mediation as well... UGH what a headache!

When the decision came out the district STILL violated the decision. I stayed on them so hard for the next month that they got backed into a corner they couldn't get out of and did end up sending my child to the school I had been asking for. (kiddo was treated really bad BTW). The thing that got them was they continued to suspend him without an MDR after being told by the state that they MUST do an MDR for every OSS and ISS given to my child. Then tried to trick me into signing a MDR that we had not had a meeting for. I had it all written down, along with all other evidence. They had no choice but to abide by my wishes. Not 3 days after the trickery I was signing papers for my child to go to the school he is at now. I wish I had the energy to write out all we went through over the years that lead up to this, because it was traumatizing to my son, myself and my family.

You're right though, even though I spent no money, my son and I went through a great deal of emotional turmoil. But in the end, every tear I shed was absolutely worth it.

We are no longer with that district, thank goodness.

Quoting KatyTylersMom:


darbyakeep45
by Darby on Mar. 18, 2013 at 6:52 AM

Never done that before.

nanny901
by on Mar. 18, 2013 at 8:03 AM

We are because they will not do an IEP or a 504 because he is too smart. I was like my son having a high IQ does not help him with emotional or social issues we are having. Between his psychologist, occupational therapist and our educational lawyer, it is costing us over $4000 a month! We are really feeling the strain from it. We have had to get money out of our retirement to pay for it. We have our next IEP meeting tomorrow, I knw they will turn us down again. I don't even want to think how much that will cost to go to court! We are hoping we can sue the school district to get the money back once we win!

mypbandj
by Jen on Mar. 18, 2013 at 8:40 AM
OMG that's BS. Too smart? Keep fighting!! My son has what they call duel exceptionalities. His IEP is for both autism and gifted. You can do both.

Quoting nanny901:

We are because they will not do an IEP or a 504 because he is too smart. I was like my son having a high IQ does not help him with emotional or social issues we are having. Between his psychologist, occupational therapist and our educational lawyer, it is costing us over $4000 a month! We are really feeling the strain from it. We have had to get money out of our retirement to pay for it. We have our next IEP meeting tomorrow, I knw they will turn us down again. I don't even want to think how much that will cost to go to court! We are hoping we can sue the school district to get the money back once we win!

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