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Assisting Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Students

On Behalf of | May 4, 2016

Some of the most frequent phone calls and emails I receive are from frustrated parents or college students that are classified with ESE services. They are frustrated because the school that they or their children attend are not following their IEP or Section 504 plan. In the last two weeks alone I have attended meetings on both the east and west coast of Florida. The issue is always the same – the school is not following the plan and I or my child is suffering. When I hear these stories I am always amazed at how some schools and districts and colleges like to take a “wait and see” approach. Or worse, they appear to be playing a game of “kick the can” – hoping that if they just keep making excuses eventually they will not have to deal with the situation.I usually counsel these individuals and parents that we begin with a sensible approach. My approach not only can usually achieve what they want, but do it quicker and less expensive than another attorney convincing you that you have to sue.My approach to start is a two-part process. The first part consists of a detailed review of you or your child’s situation. This includes numerous conferences with the individual or parents and a reviewed of all relevant paperwork, including IEP’s, 504’s, and any medical evaluations. Once that is complete I prepare a comprehensive document to send to the school. I like to call this our position paper. It is a document that lays out what has occurred, what the school has done wrong, the individual or parents concerns, and where possible, suggestions on how to fix the problems. This document does a few things. First, it lets the school and/or district know that you mean business, you’ve gone and hired an attorney. It then gives the school or district an opportunity to start thinking of ways to address the concerns we have. What good does it do to show up at a meeting and spring a bunch of problems and concerns on people? Chances are they will not be able to come up with any concrete solutions, and after all, that is ultimately what you want.The second part of this initial approach is then to accompany the individual or parents to a meeting, whether this is actually a review or just a meeting to address your concerns. Every individual and/or parent I have accompanied to a meeting tells me that it made a difference. Staff treats them with respect and they miraculously seem to come up with new ideas and plans to implement as part of the IEP or 504. The beauty of this approach is that we can usually achieve results in a relatively short period of time. If the parents did not see results and the school is still not doing what it is supposed to, a due process complaint, in effect a lawsuit, is of course still available.I find that presenting information to the school in a firm, yet respectful manner is the best approach. After all, you are going to have to work with the school and its staff throughout the time you or your child is there and in the end, it’s all about one thing – providing you or your child with the care and support he or she needs.Richard Asselta of Asselta Law represents students in all school settings and teachers in K-12, public schools, private schools and colleges. Call today for a free consultation regarding your Education Law case. We offer affordable payment plans and flat-fees. 855-EDU-LAWYER