September 2012
The Child & Family Law Center of the North Shore Newsletter             

In This Issue
Special Ed: Top Ten Things to Start the School Year
Suspensions are Higher for Disabled Students
When is a Therapeutic Non-Mainstream Placement Justified?
Divorce and Special Needs Issues in Schools
Have Dreams Transition Program

"Back to School: Are You Getting Everything You Can Out of Your IEP Meeting?"

Panelists Micki Moran, J.D. and Marrea Winnega, Ph.D., BCBA, School Consultant at Autism Home Supports Services, will present practical information on getting the most out of your IEP, including Q & A.

Thursday, October 4, 2012
6:30 p.m. - 7: 45 p.m.

Click on the Link Below:

Stay tuned for more webinars:
  • Advocating for your Child, Teen and Young Adult with Mental Illness. 
  • What Parents Need to Know about RTI (Response to Intervention).
  • Transition Planning-Special Education and Other Concerns. 
  • Considerations for the Adult Disabled Child

Announcements and Upcoming Events:



Micki Moran, J.D. and Joseph Poell, J.D. to present:
Case Law and Ethics Update
at the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Child Representative/Guardian Ad Litem Training

September 11, 2012 at the College of Lake County



Have Dreams Transition Program

Open House

Thursday, October 4, 2012


2020 Dempster

Evanston, IL 60202
   RSVP 847-685-0250
or [email protected] 




Micki Moran to participate on a school discipline panel at the

National Association of State Boards of Education

2012 Annual Conference


October 12, 2012

Chicago, IL  




Special Education and Autism Summit:

Advocacy Through the Lifespan 

Transition, Special Needs Trusts, IEP Planning, Divorced/Separated
 Parents and more.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sponsored by The Child and Family Law Center

Held at Trinity International University
Bannockburn, IL*

Registration details coming soon.

*This is not a function of Trinity International University


 Micki Moran will present:


Advocating for Your Child, Teen and Young Adult with Mental Illness: A Proactive, Empowered Approach for Parents, Therapists and Caregivers 


National  Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)  

Cook County/North Suburban Chapter

Monday, November 12, 2012

7:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.  


Glenview Police Station

2500 E. Lake Ave. 


Send us your announcements! 
Is your group or organization having and event? Email us or call our office at 847-926-0101 with the information and The Child & Family Law Center will be happy to publish it in our newsletter.


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In addition to traditional divorce services,  

The Child and Family Law Center now offers:


Divorce Mediation


  • Cost Effective.
  • Experienced Mediator.
  • Child Centered.
  • Problem Solving Focused. 

Please call us at 847-926-0101 for more information.

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The Child and Family Law Center provides representation and consultation in the following areas:
  • Special Education and School Law
  • Family 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.
Suite 201 
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.
Special Education:
Top Ten Things to Start the School Year
  1. Keep a journal. I am not suggesting a long narrative detailing every aspect of your child's school experience, but a simple highlight of those things that seem relevant. (e.g. length of time it takes for homework, changes in attitude, struggles with a subject.)
  2. Communicate with your child's teachers. If they are in the upper grades identify and agree on a point person. The nature and frequency of the communication is dependent on the needs of the child. A weekly email is optimal. This should be a checklist rather than a narrative of each and every detail.
  3. The communication should be short and simple. Avoid daily or very frequent, long or angry emails.
  4. If you need a response, set a date for a reply that is reasonable. If the matter is urgent, pick up the phone.
  5. Get in the habit of using a binder or file where all records, evaluations, IEP's and other school records are kept.
  6. Prioritize what must get done this semester/school year. Take inventory at least 4 times a school year making use of data, grades, your child's attitude toward school, to make sure you are moving forward.
  7. Let the school know when things are working as well as when they are not. They are likely to hear your concerns with a more open mind.
  8. If the issue cannot be addressed in a short email then a meeting may be necessary. Ask for a meeting.  
  9. All meetings should have an agenda of talking points. This is a joint effort between school and home and should be developed collaboratively. If the district isn't willing to do that, you should bring your agenda to the meeting. The district's refusal to address your concerns should be documented in the minutes of the meeting.
  10. Keep your eye on the big picture.

Special Education:

Suspensions are Higher for Disabled Students 


For those of us who work in the area, this recent New York Times article didn't seem like new news. An August 7, 2012 New York Times article reported that "Students with disabilities are almost twice as likely to be suspended from school as non-disabled students," with the highest rates among black children with disabilities.

The Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the University of California, Los Angeles, conducted the study.

The study found that 13 percent of disabled students in kindergarten through 12th grade were suspended during the 2009-2010 school year compared with 7 percent of students without disabilities. The rate was much higher among black children: one out of every four was suspended at least once that school year. In Illinois, the rate was close to 42 percent compared  with about 8 percent for white students.  

Suspensions are Higher for Disabled Students, Federal Data Indicate 


Special Education: 
When is a Therapeutic Non-Mainstream Placement Justified?



FAQ: What are the factors that schools and/or hearing officers consider when recommending or ordering a therapeutic day school?

Parents and/or schools should be prepared to demonstrate that the school considered and implemented reasonable interventions and supports to attempt to make the mainstream placement work.

FAQ: What are some of the examples of interventions a school should demonstrate that it has implemented?

This is best illustrated by example. Clearly a data driven Functional Behavioral Analysis and a Behavior Intervention Plan are the cornerstones of this effort. Additionally, the student may be provided with a paraprofessional, smaller classes, and a revised IEP with supports.

FAQ:  What behavior will warrant a discussion or recommendation of a therapeutic day school?

Typically, schools look at several factors. Is the student's behavior negatively impacting their learning or the learning of others? How much time is being spent that is detracting from classroom time for that student or his or her classmates dealing with the behavior? Are the interventions working? Is the student making academic progress?

See, Hiawatha Sch. District No. 426, 58 IDELR 269 (SEA IL 2012)
Divorce and Custody: 
Absolute Immunity for Child Representatives

In contested custody cases, the court has authority to appoint a child representative to represent the interest of the child. In the case of Vlastelica v. Brend et al, 2011 IL App. (1st), the court held that child representatives are absolutely immune from liability when working as advocates within the scope of their court-appointed duties.
The court stated that a child representative must be free to fulfill his duties without the threat of harassment from those who may be dissatisfied with what is ultimately decided to be in the child's best interest.

Have Dreams Launching Transition Program for Students with Autism  


Have Dreams, a nonprofit organization serving children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for over 16 years is expanding services for young adults, ages 18-22 years old. Beginning in mid-September, Have Dreams will operate a state-approved special education transition program in Evanston, Illinois. The primary goal is to provide educational services to assist students with ASD in making a successful transition from  high school to adult employment and independent living.  

Professionals at Have Dreams have developed extensive partnerships with professionals in the field and key local business enterprises. Designed to target a variety of life skills, their facility in Evanston includes three classroom spaces, two kitchens, a fitness area, computer lab, laundry facilities, and a vocational training area.

Walgreens is collaborating with Have Dreams to open a retail training facility at the Evanston site. In addition, students will have other job experience opportunities through the Metropolitan YMCA of Chicago, Healthy Kids Lunches, and other business partners in the area.

Using a research-proven approach, instruction is focused on independent functioning, interpersonal behavior, communication, leisure, and workplace skills. According to Kris Johnsen, Executive Director of Have Dreams, "the key is to build a support system that will guide each of our students toward a successful job experience and the skills needed for living independently. We strongly believe in collaborating with the student, family members, school staff, as well as community business partners."

This program is a privately operated, state-approved special education facility. This allows  high schools the option of placing students at Have Dreams for their transition services if the student's IEP team determines the program is needed to meet the unique needs of that individual. Referrals can be make directly to Have Dreams by contacting Tom Dempsey, Principal, at 847-685-0250 or [email protected] 


The Have Dreams Transition Program - Open House

Thursday, October 4, 2012

11 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

2020 Dempster, Evanston, IL 60202  


RSVP to Tom Dempsey, 847-685-0250 or [email protected] 

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.

Suite 201

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 

Micki Moran
The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore
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