Announcements and Upcoming Events:
IEP Summer Tune-Up Special
For a flat fee of $350, our office will review your child's existing IEP and evaluations and make suggestions for improvement, including goals and necessary accommodations and services to the IEP and program. This includes an in person consultation and review these issues with one of our legal team members.
Call today to schedule your
Micki Moran and Attorney Joseph Poell will be presenting on:
Case Law and Ethics Update for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Child Representative/Guardian Ad Litem Training
September 11, 2012 at the College of Lake County
Micki Moran to participate on a school discipline panel at the
National Association of State Boards of Education
2012 Annual Conference
Autism/Special Needs Summit
Transition, Special Needs Trusts, IEP Planning, Divorced/Separated
Parents and more.
Stay tuned for details
Developing the IEP for Students with Autism.
(Panel including Micki Moran and an Autism Education Specialist)
Considerations for the Adult Disabled Child
This webinar will address issues related to guardianship, child support, Powers of Attorney and other options for parents of young adults with disabilities.
Transition Planning-Special Education and Other Considerations
A primer on transition planning with identification of resources, development of the IEP, planning for life after age 22, development of a team and a plan for your young adult.
What Parents Need to Know about RTI (Response to Intervention)
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In addition to traditional divorce services,
The Child and Family Law Center now offers:
Please call us at 847-926-0101 for more information.
The Child and Family Law Center
provides representation and consultation in the following areas:
- Special Education and School Law
- Juvenile and Criminal Law
- Mental Health and Disability Law
Check our website for a complete list of our services
The Child and Family Law Center, Ltd.
1950 Sheridan Rd.
Highland Park, IL 60035
We provide representation in the following Northern Illinois counties: Cook, Lake, DuPage, Kane, and McHenry.
Hello and Welcome. Each month The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore, Ltd. will provide articles of interest and updates on areas that our office deals with on a regular basis. We appreciate and welcome feedback, so please feel free to send us an email at [email protected]
with questions or suggestions.
Private Placements: Residential and Therapeutic Day Placements - What a Parent Needs to Know
While it is relatively rare for a student to be placed outside a school district in a private school at district expense, this rarity is a common reason parents seek out our legal services. For most families this will never be an issue. The situations that motivate parents and districts to seek a private placement are unusual and there is no typical case. It is important to provide a few scenarios that will establish the framework for conceptualizing when a residential or therapeutic placement may be warranted.
Student A is about to enter their junior year in high school. Their grades have been dropping and they are not earning credits toward graduation or making progress on their IEP goals. This student is identified with ADHD and depression. They are eligible for special education under OHI (Other Health Impaired) and ED (Emotional Disturbance). The local school has provided them with a lot of support. However, they don't participate in class, spend at least one third of their day in the nurses office with various complaints, and have failed most tests this semester and failed to complete homework. The student sees an outside psychiatrist and social worker. Both of these professionals believe that Student A is in need of additional therapeutic support and will continue to fail in school if this doesn't happen.
The school district has provided most of the supports that are available in this large high school (e.g. resource, social work and smaller classes). These have not helped.
The parents request an IEP meeting to discuss the student's lack of progress. At the IEP meeting it is agreed that the student requires more intervention. The IEP team recommends a private therapeutic day school The parents agree.
Student B is on the autism spectrum. They are unable to communicate with the exception of a few words. This student has been in self-contained classrooms for the last ten years. At age ten, the student is entering early puberty and has become extremely aggressive to staff and other students. Many interventions have been attempted without success. The student has an aide on the bus and in the classroom. Recently, this student injured his assistant and she is on medical leave.
In the last month, the student has become self-injurious as well, and most of the school day is spent keeping this student and others safe. His parents have tried multiple medications prescribed by the student's psychiatrist, who specializes in autism spectrum disorders, with little success.
The parents and the school convene an emergency IEP (the 4th this year). The school district wants to try one more intervention an offers to bring in a consultant. The parents are convinced, as are their treating psychiatrist and outside therapists, that a residential placement is necessary to assist this student in behavioral regulation and other skills. The parents have located a residential placement for students with autism in an out of state facility. This program is considered a state of the art facility and is on the ISBE (Illinois State Board of Education) approved list.
The district refuses the request. The parents hire our office to represent them.
A residential placement is considered the most restrictive placement for students with disabilities. However, the IDEA allows for this level of restrictiveness when a student requires this for educational reasons. If parents believe that their child or adolescent requires a residential placement, there are numerous steps they will need to take to make that happen. They are as follows:
- Get an opinion from your private providers (e.g. psychiatrist, therapists, behavior specialists) regarding why this is necessary. Remember, you are "just the parent" so independent, credible, objective input is critical. This opinion should be in writing, be detailed and provided to school staff.
- Keep data and a log of everything.
- Communicate everything in writing to the school.
- Develop a timeline of incidents/experiences/hospitalizations that preferably span the last two years.
- Develop a summary of the interventions that have been attempted at school and at home to address the problem.
- Be prepared. The process moves slowly.
- Organized, persistent efforts are essential to this process.
- Hire an attorney. Schools will rarely agree to a residential placement absent external pressure.
- Explore an ISBE approved school that may fit your child's needs. Harrisburg Project
- Do not unilaterally place your child in a school without consulting an attorney.
Services: Getting what is Required
A recent New York case highlights what parents and service providers often suspect. Students aren't getting the services the IEP requires.
The New York Times reported that students weren't receiving the services they were supposed to be getting according to their IEPs. This teacher reported this information to the Principal and according to the NYT found his "career ground to dust." New York Times, July 6, 2012, On Special Education, Spurned Teacher is Vindicated.
"The State Education Department investigated the charges leveled by Mr. Lirtzman, the teacher who leveled the allegations, one state regulation after another."
The State Education Department found that students were placed with unqualified teachers and pushed into crowded mainstream classes where their needs were not met.
This type of violation is hardly unique to the Bronx or a big city school. In our office, we frequently receive calls from concerned teachers who are forced to violate the educational rights of their students by not providing them required service minutes. They are as a general rule afraid for their jobs but more importantly, upset by the failure to do what is required. They don't know what to do. They seek out their principal, other administrators, and others who are sympathetic, but state that they can't do more. Sometimes they hand a parent a card or number for an attorney in hopes that the parent will take on the fight.
Transition: Least Restrictive Environment Applies to Work Placements
Transition planning is a common reason parents seek our services. This is one of the most misunderstood and confusing areas for parents and schools. Many students who benefited from full inclusion or more inclusive environments in the early grades and even high school are relegated to segregated work sites when it comes to transition planning. A recent letter from the U.S. Department of Education to the attorney for Disability Rights Wisconsin made it clear that the least restrictive environment requirements of the IDEA apply to transition.
Parents must be vigilant about ensuring that there is a discussion of what the transition job placement will include. In this economy there are limited jobs and unfortunately, students with disabilities may be slotted into positions that are available as opposed to those that will provide a less restrictive experience.
OSEP issues favorable LRE transition letter
Divorce and Special Needs Issues in Schools:
- I have joint custody with my ex-wife, our daughter has an IEP. The district wants to change her placement. I don't agree, but her mother is in favor of the recommended placement. Does the district need both of our consents?
Answer: In the absence of an agreement, the school district can proceed with the signature of only one parent.
- I have sole legal custody. What are my rights regarding special education decisions? Answer: a) You should provide this documentation regarding sole custody to the school. b) As the sole custodian, you are the parent who is legally entitled to participate in special education decisions.
- My spouse and I have joint custody. However, I live in one school district and he lives in another. Who is the residential parent for school purposes? Answer: Illinois provides as follow: (105 ILCS 5/14-1.11
In cases of divorced or separated parents, when only one parent has legal guardianship or custody, the district in which the parent having legal guardianship or custody resides is the resident district. When both parents retain legal guardianship or custody, the resident district is the district in which either parent who provides the student's primary regular fixed night-time abode resides; provided, that the election of resident district may be made only one time per school year.
When the parent has legal guardianship and lives outside of the State of Illinois, or when the individual legal guardian other than the natural parent lives outside the State of Illinois, that parent, legal guardian, or other placing agent is responsible for making arrangements to pay the Illinois school district serving the child for the educational services provided. Those service costs shall be determined in accordance with Section 14-7.01.
(Source: P.A. 95-844. eff. 8-15-08.)
Divorce and Family Law
I recently ran across this letter on Facebook and wanted to share it with my colleagues and clients. It is all too common that divorcing parents cannot let go of the conflict and despite their protestations to the contrary, criticize the other parent in front of their children. Sometimes they use the excuse that they are simply telling the truth about the other parent. Hopefully, this brief but direct comment from a family court judge serves as a reminder to spare your children from this harmful conduct.
Minnesota Judge Has 200 Blunt Words for Divorcing Parents
By Judge Michael Haas
"Your children have come into this world because of the two of you. Perhaps you two made lousy choices as to whom you decided to be the other parent. If so, that is your problem and your fault.
No matter what you think of the other party - or what your family thinks of the other party - these children are one-half of each of you. Remember that, because every time you tell your child what an "idiot" his father is, or what a "fool" his mother is, or how bad the absent parent is, or what terrible things that person has done, you are telling the child half of him is bad.
That is an unforgivable thing to do to a child. That is not love, that is possession. If you do that to your children, you will destroy them as surely as if you had cut them into pieces, because that is what you are doing to their emotions.
I sincerely hope that you do not do that to your children. Think more about your children and less about yourselves, and make yours a selfless kind of love, not foolish or selfish, or your children will suffer."
The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore is a unique legal practice that specializes in providing legal services to families and children in the areas of special education, IEP consultations, divorce and custody, parenting agreements, mediation, guardianship and juvenile law, including criminal law, DCFS and mental health. Where possible, we have initiated flat fee billing for appropriate matters.
The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore
1950 Sheridan Rd.
Highland Park, IL 60035
For more information about The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore, please call 847-926-0101 or visit our website at www.lawforchild.com
The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore
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