Please note that this is not legal advice. See our disclaimer.
So you put a lot of time and effort into getting an Individualized Education Plan for your child, but you are not happy with the results, and you can’t get school officials to work with you to modify it. What do you do?
The first thing you must do is set-up a meeting to calmly but directly state your reasons why you are unhappy with your child’s IEP or progress. Use facts and evidence, such as doctor’s reports, to support your position. If no resolution can be reached, then you should note that you disagree with the IEP. Sign or check the box or place on the IEP that says “I disagree”, if that is available, and take the IEP and clearly write reasons why you disagree in a polite, professional, succinct fashion. Otherwise, the school may assume that you accept the IEP and it will be provide written evidence of your stated reasons for not accepting the IEP. You can then request mediation or a due process hearing to address your concerns. If you have an IEP in place, it will be followed until your issues are resolved. If you believe that the school is discriminating against your child based on a disability, you may file a complaint with the state’s civil rights office.
In mediation, you will have the services of a third-party neutral, who will work with both sides to find a mutually acceptable solution. The mediator is not a school employee and does not represent either side, but works to help you settle your differences amicably. The parties do not have legal counsel at the mediation. The mediator won’t consider legal arguments or take testimony, but will focus exclusively on helping you come to a workable result.
You can also request a due process hearing, which is like taking your case to court. Your hearing will be before a hearing officer, who will listen to both sides and then make a determination about whose argument is most persuasive. You can (and should) have a lawyer represent you in a due process hearing. If you are planning on pursuing a due process hearing, it is best to consult a lawyer as soon as possible so that your matter can be prepared and presented correctly from the beginning.
If neither mediation nor a due process hearing bring about an acceptable outcome, you can file a complaint with the office of civil rights. This process can be time-consuming, as the office of civil rights has a significant period of time to investigate matters.
Contact the Law Offices of Hornstine Law, LLC
At Hornstine Law, LLC, we have decades of experience protecting the rights of individuals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We take an aggressive approach, using our knowledge, skill, experience and resources to help you get the outcome you want. We offer a free initial consultation in every case. For a private meeting, contact our office online or call us at 215-568-4968 (in New Jersey at 609-523-2222).