Special Education Lawyers: Do You Need One?
Meet the Montgomery Law Education Lawyers, Paralegals and Advocates
After leaving the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Mr. Montgomery founded Montgomery Law, LLC. Montgomery Law has allowed Mr. Montgomery to fully realize his passion for helping children and families at all levels of litigation and protection. He regularly teaches and lectures on the topic of special education law to groups of parents, educators, attorneys and other professionals. Montgomery enjoys aviation and is an avid pilot. .. read more here.
With more than 35 years of experience guiding, directing, and enhancing the quality of special education services for students in both Philadelphia and New Jersey, Dr. Mary Montgomery has dedicated her entire career to serving children with disabilities and acting as a special education advocate and paralegal. Read more here.
Zachary Meinen, of counsel, earned his J.D. Degree from Thomas Kline School of Law at Drexel University. While enrolled at Drexel, Zach experienced a variety of hands-on training which included pro-bono estate planning clinics in West Philadelphia, mock oral argument in Philadelphia court rooms, and live education law simulations. Zach has focused his practice on education law, particularly in the area of federal litigation. Read more here.
John O’Brien, of counsel, has practiced corporate and administrative law for nearly 20 years. He spent many years with a major international law firm in New York, representing clients before federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission. John has advised business and individual clients on a wide range of matters — from contract disputes to civil rights actions. His current practice focuses on the educational and civil rights of children, as well as sex- and race-based discrimination. Read more here.
Bradley Flynn, of counsel, practices in New Jersey in the areas of education and civil rights law. Brad brings a unique perspective to the firm in that he has spent many years working in schools directly with children with special needs. Brad’s keen understanding of how schools operate from the inside enables him to advocate more effectively for parents. Read more here.
Do you need a special education attorney or advocate?
Maybe you have a child that receives special education supports and services, or you think your child may be in need of special education supports and services, but your school district is not cooperating?
Maybe your child keeps getting in trouble in school, but the school isn’t do anything productive to handle the situation, they are just calling you day after day to pick up your child?
Maybe your child refuses to go to school, but the district doesn’t acknowledge that school phobia is real and they have not taken any action to get your child back in school.
There are many reasons that might have you searching the internet for special education lawyers, but do you really need one?
Indication that you might need a special education lawyer:
Here are some factors to consider when trying to decide whether you need a lawyer.
1. Is your child making progress:
Is your child making progress not only academically, but also socially and emotionally? Districts will often discount the social and emotional piece of the equation and accept “good” grades as an indicator that everything is fine.
The truth is that progress is more than just academics and the IDEA is clear that the school must take into account all areas of a child’s suspected disability.
Another issue that often comes up is the question as to whether the grades on your child’s report card accurately reflect your child’s intelligence. Parents are often skeptical that school’s are inappropriately inflating their child’s grades to make the district look better. Tactics such as these can be easily spotted after a thorough review of your child’s records and independent educational evaluations.
2. Have you requested an evaluation for special education, but your requests have been ignored?
School districts have legal obligations to follow when you request an independent evaluation. What they cannot do is ignore your request. If you have requested an independent evaluation and the school district has ignored your request, you should consult with an education attorney. Note, that you should make your requests in writing as the human memory has a tendency to lapse at inopportune moments.
3. Is your child being bullied or have they been assaulted by another student or a teacher?
While it is true that school districts benefit from a good deal of immunities from law suit, these protections are not impenetrable. Further, it is not ok for a district to take a “kids will be kids” attitude when it comes to bullying. This is true even in instances of cyber-bullying that occur off of the school campus. School districts can absolutely not tell you to “call Facebook” when your child is being bullied online. If your child has been denied access to a free and appropriate education due to bullying and or harassment, you may be entitled to relief and you should consult with an attorney that focuses on education law.
But what about your relationship with the school district?
The NOLO website did a nice job addressing this issue:
Your relationship with the district. Hiring a lawyer may change your relationship with the school district. When you involve attorneys, the atmosphere becomes more formal and potentially combative. School personnel will likely be more guarded and may view you as a troublemaker or a squeaky wheel. Of course, if you are at the point where you are considering hiring an attorney, your relationship with the school district has already changed. And your child’s welfare is more important than a cordial relationship with the school district.
School districts are legally precluded from taking any retaliatory action against you for seeking to reasonably exercise your legal rights. In some instances, the consequences for retaliation can be more severe to the school district than the penalty for the underlying infraction. Further, while you and the district may butt heads on certain issues, more often than not, school districts are not going to take it out on a child.
Can you afford an attorney?
In some cases the Federal Law provides for you to be able to be reimbursed for some if not all of you attorney’s fees. Depending on the facts of your case, some lawyers will take your case with no or little money out of pocket.
Did I wait too long to hire an attorney?
Generally with special education issues, the statute of limitations is two (2) years. While there are exceptions, in most cases schools are only liable for violations that occurred in the past two years. For this reason, if you do think it is time for attorney intervention, it is better that you consult with an attorney sooner rather than later.