Common Legal Mistakes Parents of Children with Special Education Needs Make, But Can Avoid: Part III

Published on April 4, 2009 by Jennifer Laviano

Part three in the Series: Unfortunately, prevailing in a legal dispute against your school district is very difficult, so if you can avoid some common traps, why not just avoid them?  If you’ve already done one of these things, don’t give up hope, but do try to rectify the situation.  If you haven’t done any of these things, DON’T, it could lose your case for you one day:

MISTAKE #3:  Saying “I will never allow my child back into your school district!”

You do not ever want to have prejudged an IEP before it has been offered.  Saying to an IEP Team, a staff member, or a Hearing Officer that you will never even consider returning your child to the school district is a death knell to your case.

Theoretically, your school district could offer an appropriate program to your child, and you will be perceived as having rejected an appropriate program based entirely on mistrust.  Your mistrust may be extremely well placed, and for many of my clients, it is.  But “I do not trust them” is not a strong legal argument to justify rejecting an appropriate program.  Therefore, hear them out first, and then if you don’t agree with the program let them know.

Same goes for not signing any contracts that commit you to sending your child to a private program before you’ve even had your Annual Review IEP.  It is usually acceptable to place a nominal “deposit” to secure your child’s spot at a private school before you’ve heard the proposed IEP, but if it is an amount of money that a Hearing Officer would find unreasonable to “walk away from” without sending your child to the private school, see if you can possibly hold off until the IEP meeting.

One Response to Common Legal Mistakes Parents of Children with Special Education Needs Make, But Can Avoid: Part III

  1. Rochelle Dolim
    August 24th, 2009 | 7:27 pm

    So, they just write what existing documentation shows to be an inadequate IEP and aim it at futile due process hearings. BTW, we’ve learn to ask for substantiating documentation … not say that we disagree with the IEP.