Legal minute with Cooley Shrair: Disbutes Over Special Education Laws

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (Mass Appeal) –  What happens when you disagree with a schools over the education of your child? Attorney Shawn Willis from the Law Offices of Cooley Shrair in Springfield shared more.

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What happens when the school makes a recommendation that the parent disagrees with?
Parents are entitled to full participation in their child’s educational plan. That means they have a say in determining what, if any, accommodations or specialized services their student receives. When a plan is developed, the parent has the options to either agree with the plan, reject the plan or even agree with part of the plan and reject the rest. At that point, if the school and the parent are in disagreement, the parent can petition the Department of Education for a hearing or some other type of assistance in resolving the dispute such as mediation. The parent can also request that the school provide for an independent evaluation.

If a parent chose to have an independent evaluation done, do they have to pay for it themselves?
Not always. The burden of paying for the independent evaluation is determined by state regulation and is based on a sliding scale. Parents whose income is over under 400% of the federal poverty guidelines, do not have to pay any portion of the cost. If their income is between 400% and 600% of the guidelines, they will have to pay a portion of the fee and for those who earn over 600% of the guidelines will have to pay for all of it. Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch are automatically entitled to an evaluation at the school districts expense.

What if parents do not want to share their financial information with the school?
They must if they want the school district to pay for some or all of the evaluation, but parents are allowed to have an independent evaluation at their own expense at any time and when they do, they may choose to share it with the school or not. If they do, the school must review and consider the report in developing the child’s education plan.

About Cooley Shrair:
Cooley, Shrair P.C., founded in 1946 by Judge Sidney M. Cooley and Attorney Edward B. Cooley, is a progressive law firm located in Springfield, MA. Cooley Shrair provides unequaled service to its clients. Our unparalleled response time to our clients’ needs is the foundation of our mission statement.

At Cooley Shrair, family and business have always had a way of blending together. We know the importance of balancing the boardroom and the courtroom with the living room from time to time. We listen carefully to understand our clients’ concerns and work vigorously with them to develop strategies for success. It’s not just business, it’s personal.

We pride ourselves in being the most responsive lawyers in the area, covering virtually every area of practice for individuals and multinational corporations across the United States and Canada. Cooley Shrair is recognized consistently for exceeding client expectations and providing competent, integrated, and cost-effective legal services.

Our attorneys are each distinguished in their respective areas of concentration and are complemented by a professional support staff. Cooley Shrair is a formidable opponent who fiercely advocates on behalf of our clients and we take pride in our commitment to provide unparalleled response and unparalleled solutions.

We’re a family, and to us, that’s very personal business.

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