IS YOUR CHILD HABITUALLY TRUANT DUE TO THEIR SPECIAL NEEDS?

If your child is habitually truant due to their special needs, you need to be aware of the February, 2018  Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case "Millis Public Schools v. M.P. & others".

Stressed Truant Student

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts recently heard a case involving M.P., a 15-year old girl with multiple diagnoses including OCD, PTSD, anxiety disorder, autism and a severe bladder condition; who was referred to the juvenile court as a child requiring assistance (CRA) on the grounds that she was habitually truant by her school district, Millis Public Schools.

M.P. was offered several alternative educational learning opportunities. Some of these alternatives included attending an online high school, a therapeutic program – with a shortened day, private tutoring at home, private tutoring at the library, and finally a special education day school. M.P. failed to consistently attend any of these alternative educational settings. At all times relevant, M.P. expressed her desire to attend school and to do well in school. She often expressed disappointment when she was unable to attend. M.P. and her family fought the CRA referral on the grounds that she was unable to attend school not because of her willfulness but due to her medical issues.

Under the children requiring assistance (CRA) statute, a child “willfully fails to attend school” if the child’s repeated failure to attend school arises from reasons portending delinquent behavior. CRA petitions can be filed where a child who is of compulsory school attendance age is “habitually truant.” The statute allows the juvenile court to change a child’s custody by placing them in the home of relative or an out-of-home placement if the judge determines the child “willfully failed to attend school for more than eight school days in a quarter.” The purpose of the CRA statute is well meaning. It has been established by multiples studies, that children who are not in school are more likely to get caught up in behaviors that may lead to delinquency and ultimately involvement in the court system. Allowing school districts to identify students who are habitually absent, is meant to help these students get support and hopefully help them prevent making negative life choices. 

Unfortunately, the CRA statute is frequently used when students with disabilities cannot attend school due to their emotional, social, medical and/or academic conditions. These students are often referred to the juvenile court system instead of steps being taken to support them and their needs. Many of these students with special needs are removed from their homes as a result of the CRA referral, which further exacerbates their condition instead of helping to alleviate some of their issues.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a juvenile court judge can only find that a child is truant if the child is absent from school “purposefully, such that his or her behavior arises from reasons portending delinquent behavior.” To put it another way, the Supreme Judicial Court found that a child’s absence must be more than “merely voluntary or intentional,” the juvenile court must look “into a student’s purpose in missing school.” The Court emphasized that “a finding of willfulness is a fact-based inquiry that will depend on the circumstances of each case … [E]ach child’s purpose or reasons for missing school should be examined individually in order to determine whether the absences are willful beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Millis Public Schools vs M.P. and others is important because it supports children who cannot attend school because they have a mental or medical illness and helps these children avoid the court system and allows them to focus on their well-being and health care needs.

CHANGES COMING FOR MASSACHUSETTS ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS

English Language Learners ELLs

A fifteen year old law governing how English Language learners are taught in Massachusetts schools was repealed last November. The former Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) law was controversial from its inception. Many ESL as well as regular classroom teachers expressed concerns over the restrictive English-only model didn’t serve all students well.  In addition there were many reports and studies done that raised concerns that the needs of the students were not being met because the teachers were not adequately trained in how to support and educate the English language learners.

As a result of these reports and studies, in 2011 the U.S. Department of Justice notified Massachusetts education officials that teachers were inadequately trained in how to educate English learners and the SEI model and required the state to come up with a new solution to bridge this gap. In response the state created the RETELL program – Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners – which required teachers in core academic subjects to take a graduate-level course provided by the state in SEI instruction.  The RETELL program has had mixed results across the state.

The new law called “Language Opportunity for Our Kids," Chapter 138 of the Acts of 2017, commonly referred to as the LOOK Act aims to provide school districts with more flexibility as to the language acquisition programs they choose to meet the needs of English learners, while maintaining accountability for timely and effective English language acquisition.

The new law has many important points but here are just a few key effects:

Increased Input from Parents and Guardians

Allows parents/guardians of English learners to select any language acquisition program offered by the district, provided that the program is appropriate for the age and grade level of the student.

Allows parents/guardians to request a transfer of the student to another language acquisition program available in the district, subject to approval by the superintendent.

State Seal of Biliteracy

Directs the Board to establish the State Seal of Biliteracy. Districts may award the seal to students who meet the state criteria in attaining a high level of proficiency in English and at least one other language.

Educator Qualifications

Requires districts to verify prior to the beginning of each school year that each educator in an English learner program is properly endorsed for that program.

Language Acquisition Programming Flexibility and Oversight

Provides districts with flexibility in choosing a language acquisition program that best fits the needs of their English learner population, while ensuring accountability through Department oversight.

Requires districts that intend to offer a new sheltered English immersion or alternative instructional English learner program in the next academic year to submit the required information to the Department and the district's parent advisory council by January 1 of the current academic year; this means that new English learner programs may commence no earlier than the 2019-2020 school year.

Have questions or concerns about your student? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

 

APRIL IS AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH

Autism spectrum disorder  is a multifaceted developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. There is no known single cause of autism. There are several behaviors associated with autism that an individual may experience including delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities.  Early intervention and access to appropriate services and/or supports have been documented to positively contribute to many individual's successful outcomes. 

autism.jpg

Autism Spectrum Disorders typically appear during the first three years of life. There are no medical tests for diagnosing Autism. So if you are concerned about developmental delays in your child(ren) consult with your child's doctor. Here are some of the early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders (this list is not exhaustive):

  1. No social smiling by 6 months;
  2. Poor eye contact;
  3. No babbling, pointing, or meaningful gestures by 12 months;
  4. Loss of skills at any time;
  5. No one-word communication by 16 months;
  6. Not showing items or sharing interests;
  7. No two-word phrases by 24 months; 
  8. Unusual attachment to one particular toy or object; and
  9. Not responding to sounds.

Here are some great resources:

Asperger Works. This program assist adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders with employment. 

Autism Eats. This program provides information on autism-friendly non-judgmental environments for family dining and socialization.

Autism Insurance Resource Center. This program provides information on issues related to insurance coverage for Autism related treatments and services. 

Autism Support Center at Northeast Arc. The center providses information and support for families of people with Autism, including a paretn support group. 

 

SCHOOLS ARE NOT LIABLE FOR INJURIES CAUSED BY BULLIES

Bullying

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has recently ruled a school district cannot be held financially liable for bullying that left a child paralyzed.  

The Supreme Judicial Court’s decision came in the case of Matthew Mumbauer. In 2008, Matthew was 11 years old and a student at the Brickett Elementary School in Lynn. A fellow student who allegedly (although court documents show Matthew had been repeatedly targeted) had been bullying him for years pushed him down a flight of stairs in 2008. As a direct result, Matthew was paralyzed for life. Matthew's family sued the city, school district and administrators, saying they were negligent in failing to act.

The Supreme Judicial Court stated in their opinion that they were not deciding whether or not the school was negligent for failing to act reasonably to prevent the bullying that led to Matthew’s injuries. The SJC accepted for the purpose of their limited review that the school was negligent but that their main concern was whether, under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, the public defendants (i.e. the city, school district and administrators) may be held liable for that negligence. 

The Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, establishes the procedure for asserting tort claims against municipalities. All claims for injury or loss of property or personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any public employee while acting within the scope of their employment are subject to this Act. The Court focused its attention on Section 10(j) of the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, which bars “any claim based on an act or failure to act to prevent or diminish the harmful consequences of a condition or situation, including the violent or tortious conduct of a third person, which is not originally caused by the public employer or any other person acting on behalf of the public employer.”

In short, the Court concluded that the act protects them from liability for such negligence. Justice Kimberly S. Budd writing for the court said in relevant part “These claims are barred by §10(j) because they originate from a failure to act rather than an affirmative act….”

Conclusion. There is no question that bullying is a serious issue. The tragedy that occurred in this case highlights the emotional pain of day-to-day harassment suffered by those who are bullied, as well as the horrific physical consequences that can result.[15]

In this case it appears, based upon the allegations of the complaint, that those working at the elementary school could have and should have done more to protect Matthew. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the Legislature has imposed restrictions on the act that exempt school districts from liability. See Whitney, 373 Mass. at 210 (“on the subject of sovereign immunity . . . barring any possible constitutional infirmities, the Legislature will have the final word”).
— Cormier, et al. v. City of Lynn, et al

To read the full case opinion please use this link: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/02/27/12323.pdf

If your child is experiencing difficulties with bullies, please contact Attorney Curran to see how we may be able to help you:

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

Want some legal assistance but not a full-time lawyer?

phone-1052023_1920.jpg

If you have ever tried going it alone and represented yourself in a legal matter before, you were called a pro se party. As a pro se party you had to figure out for yourself, the legal system as well as all the ins and outs of the rules and pleadings that were necessary. E.M. Curran & Associates LLC can help you with your legal matters in a limited capacity this is called Limited Assistance Representation or L.A.R.  We can provide guidance on the rules of the court, help you fill out forms, review documents and give you feedback, help you draft responses and/or motions, and in some instances we can appear in court with you to help you with a certain part of the case.

Click here to read more about Limited Assistance Representation in Massachusetts

Limited Assistance Representation is much more economical and cost-efficient. The attorney and party enter into a detailed agreement defining what specific and limited tasks the attorney will be responsible for and what tasks the party will be responsible for. Rather than paying for months or even years of legal representation, you can seek legal advice for select issues or tasks such as but not limited to:

  1. Document review: thoroughly review documents, pleadings and other written materials and discuss and explain the content to you.

  2. Consultation/Coaching: evaluate, analyze and help develop a strategy for a particular situation; given you legal advice and inform you of your options.

  3. Specific Services: assist you with a specific service such as ghost-writing a response/letter or legal research about the laws and the relevant cases.

  4. Limited-Scope Attorney Appearance: in very limited instances we can appear in court with you to help you with a certain part of the case.

Contact Attorney Curran to discuss any legal issues you may:

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

Timelines in Special Education

 
IEP Individualized Education Plan

There are so many deadlines and timelines when dealing with Special Education. Here are just a few to be aware of:

Request to Evaluate a student for Special Education services

  • Once the school district receives a written request to evaluate a student for special education eligibility, they have 5 school days to send the parent/guardian an Evaluation Consent form.

  • Once the parent/guardian returns an executed Evaluation Consent from to the school district, the school district has 45 school days to complete testing and schedule the IEP team meeting to discuss the results. 

Student is found NOT eligible for Special Education services

  • The school district must send written notice to the parent/guardian with 10 school days, if after the IEP team meeting the student is found not eligible for special education services.
  • Immediately upon receipt of the notice, parent/guardian should send written notice to the school district exercising "Stay Put" and file for a Due Process Hearing. 

Proposed IEP sent to Parent/Guardian

  • After the school district proposes an IEP to the parent/guardian, the parent/guardian must sign and return the IEP response page within 30 days of receipt.
  • It is good practice to save the envelope that the IEP was sent to you and to write the date you received the IEP itself on the envelope. That way if there is a dispute about when the 30 days expire, you can provide proof of how and when you were in receipt of the proposed IEP.

Remember that when you are counting your days: School districts always use school days and parents always use calendar days

Have questions or concerns about your child's education? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

Why do you need a Will?

What is a Will?

  • A will can fulfill several purposes. It nominates fiduciaries, provides the fiduciary with the authority they need to act and it disposes of probate assets.

  • The will nominates a Personal Representative who will guide the estate through the probate process.

  • If there are minor children involved, the will also nominates a Guardian or Guardians.

  • The will may make specific bequests; dispose of tangible personal property, and also of the ‘residue’ of the estate.

  • If you die without any estate planning documents, the State will step in and decide how your assets will be distributed to those who survive you, in accordance with the then existing intestacy laws

funeral arrangment.jpg

How often should I have my will updated? 

Every 5-10 years or as soon as possible after a major life event (i.e. marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death of a family member, etc.)

Have questions or concerns about your estate planning? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

Yes, there's a test for that...

MCAS.jpg

It can be overwhelming to know what kind of evaluation/assessment your child needs, especially when there seems to be a test for everything. There are tests for behavior, intellect, math, speech and language, reading, spelling, writing, ELL, Transition and a handful of other areas. The goal of these evaluations and assessments is to help the student, teacher and parent figure out why the student is struggling in school - whether it be behaviorally, socially and/or academically. In future posts we'll look closer at all of these areas that can be evaluate and/or assessed.  

Today, it is important for you to know  you should speak up and ask questions of your child's teacher/therapist/etc when your child is not making effective progress or is just struggling -behaviorally, socially and/or academically.  After speaking with the appropriate person, send a written request (emails are fine) asking that the school evaluate your child in the areas that are most appropriate based on your concerns.  Most schools will ask that you sign their 'consent form.' You should know that nothing will happen until this 'consent form' is signed and returned to the school.  You should put a note on the 'consent form' that you are requesting that any and all written reports and/or results be sent to you at least two days prior to any meeting to discuss the evaluation.

Be sure you read these reports carefully. It is sometimes helpful to make a copy of any report given to you so that you retain a clean copy. You should then highlight sections that do not make sense to you, make notes in the margins and if there are any mistakes be sure you point this out to the team  so that it can be corrected. While you are at the meeting, refer to your notes and ask as many questions as you need to. Special Education has its own 'terminology' so if something doesn't make sense ask for clarification. 

Have questions or concerns about your child's education? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC
10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com
@emcurranlegal

 

 

 

 

The importance of Estate Planning

If you die without any estate planning documents, the State will step in and decide how your assets will be distributed to those who survive you.

Last Will.jpg

Massachusetts Intestacy Statute

 Under G.L. c.1908,§ 2-102 (http://bit.ly/2DV3nkQ): 

  • The surviving spouse receives the entire estate if the decedent is not survived by descendants or parents, or if the only descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse and the surviving spouse has no other descendants.
  • The surviving spouse receives the first $200,000 plus ¾ of the balance of the estate, if decedent is not survived by descendants but is survived by a parent.
  • The surviving spouse receives the first the first $100,000 plus 1/2 of any balance of the estate in all other scenarios.

IF you want to make sure your estate goes to specific people, you need to have a written will that is properly executed and witnessed.

Contact Attorney Curran to discuss your options: 

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC
10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com
@emcurranlegal

Start the New Year off Right with a Review of your Legal Needs...

2018.jpg

Take the time now to review your legal needs and ensure you and your family are all set for the upcoming year.

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC offers a wide range of services, including but not limited to:

1. Special Education Advocacy and Attorney Guidance 

2. CORI Record Sealing

3.  Estate Planning

4.  Real Estate support

Have questions or concerns?  Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC
10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com
@emcurranlegal
 

Sign up for a Special Education Workshop

The best thing a parent/guardian of a special needs child can do is educate themselves so that they know what their child's rights are as related to Education matters.  Attend a free workshop offered by our experienced staff. 

walking.jpg

Some of the workshop topics we could cover include:

1. What are your rights as a parent/guardian in Special Education?

2. Is your child with an IEP being Suspend or Disciplined? 

3. Transition Planning - Who, When, How and Why

4. The "Nuts & Bolts" of an IEP

5. Early Intervention vs. Special Education - The Importance of Turning Three

Please let us know which topic you would be interested in and we will let you know the dates/times/locations of future workshops. 

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

What is a 504 Plan?

feet.jpeg

What is a 504 Plan?

Section 504 plans get their name from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which is a federal law designed to prevent any student with a disability from discrimination due to their disability. Students who qualify for a 504 plan cannot be denied the opportunity to participate in any aid, benefit, services, and/or activities that are available for students without disabilities and must receive a “free and appropriate public education” (FAPE). This includes school sponsored non-academic and extracurricular services and activities. 

Who is eligible for a 504 Plan?

Under the federal and state special education laws, a student is deemed eligible for an IEP after a two-pronged test:

1) Does the student have a recognized disability?
2) Is the student not making effective progress because of the disability, or does the student need specialized instruction and/or related services to make effective progress in the general curriculum?

If the answer to both tests is “yes”, an IEP is required. If not, a Section 504 plan may be considered.

To be eligible for individualized assistance under Section 504, a student must have a disability that “substantially limits” one or more “major life activities.” The major difference between a 504 plan and an IEP is that, for a 504 plan, the student does NOT need specialized instruction to make effective progress. Instead, the student may need only accommodations (such as additional time, special seating, or sensory breaks) and/or related services (such as a reading program, speech and language services, or occupational therapy) in order to access the general curriculum.

How does a 504 plan differ from an IEP?

  • There is no accountability for the goals, accommodations, etc. being implemented and achieved. 
  • There is no requirement that the 504 plan be written.
  • There is no requirement for progress reporting during the school year. 
  • There is no requirement to do transition planning for the student. 
  • There are no disciplinary protections for the student for any behavior and/or conduct violations. 
  • The individual is entitled to lifetime access to any program or activity that either receives Federal funding or is conducted by an Executive agency or the United States Postal Service. 

Have questions or concerns about your child's education? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

It’s a topic that many of us try to avoid – our deaths. Are you prepared?

cemetry.jpg

Being proactive and planning for your family’s future is a necessity in today’s world. If you do not take the time to plan, the state will step in and dictate what happens to your worldly possessions. In general, most estate plans will include at a minimum a combination of the following legal documents:

Will:

A will can fulfill several purposes. It nominates fiduciaries, provides the fiduciary with the authority they need to act and it disposes of probate assets. The will nominates a Personal Representative who will guide the estate through the probate process.  

Durable Power of Attorney:

A durable power of attorney is a document whereby one person, the principal, appoints another person, the agent or attorney-in-fact, to act as his or her attorney-in-fact. The person serving need not be an attorney so, to some extent, the term “attorney” is a misnomer. The attorney-in-fact, in effect, stands in the shoes of the principal and acts for him or her on financial, business, or other matters.

Health Care Proxy:

A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that allows you to name someone you know and trust to make health care decisions for you if, and only if, you are unable to make or communicate those decisions yourself.

Living Wills:

A living will sets forth the specific written instructions of the principal regarding his or her treatment preferences in various hypothetical situations. Living wills tend to focus on end-of-life situations and decisions about pursuing or terminating treatment, including life-sustaining measures.

Declaration of Homestead:

The Homestead Act allows Massachusetts homeowners to protect their home from future creditors.  The Act was updated and effective as of March 16, 2011. The updated Act allows homeowners to choose between an Automatic Homestead, which is effective without a written declaration and a written Declaration of Homestead. The amount of the Automatic Homestead protection is $125,000. When a written Declaration of Homestead is filed the exemption increases to $500,000. Both the homeowner and his/her spouse must sign the declaration form.

Contact Attorney Curran to discuss your options: 

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

 

Fences. They make good neighbors ... right?

fence.jpeg

Before you install or build a fence…

  1. Verify if your town requires a building permit. If so apply for the permit and obtain it before doing any work.
  2. Hire a licensed and insured land surveyor to verify the boundary lines. Here is a useful resource to find out more information about land surveyors http://www.malsce.org/index.cfm/pid/10365
  3. Do you have good relationship with your neighbor? Have a conversation with them about your wish to have a fence installed and where you will be installing it. If your neighbor has no issue move forward with your plans.

If your neighbor has a problem with your plans to install a fence …

1. What is the neighbor’s real issue -is it the location of the fence or the presence of the fence?

2. If your neighbor’s issue is with the location of the fence, try to ascertain your neighbor’s basis so of knowledge of where he thinks the line should be.

3. You have a few options:

  • Speak to your surveyor about the dispute. How confident is he/she about where the line should be?
  • Ask the surveyor to come and explain his methodology to both you and your neighbor at the same time.
  • Suggest that your neighbor have his own survey done.

If you are still unable to resolve the dispute with your neighbor, you should contact an attorney to discuss further options. 

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

Early Intervention vs. Special Education - Why 3 is an important age.

3rd.jpg

Not every child who receives Early Intervention will receive Special Education Services. So how do you know what to do and when to ensure your child receives every education opportunity they should receive? There are several topics and areas to be aware of while navigating this process. Here are just a few of them. 

The differences between Early Intervention and Special Education

  • Early Intervention is family centered while Special Education is child centered.
  • Early Intervention services are for  children up to age 3 with developmental delays. 
  • Special Education is for children, with specific diagnoses listed in the law, from age 3 to 22 who need specialized instruction to make effective progress and/or related services to access the curriculum. 

Transition Planning Conference

There are 5 transition steps from early intervention to special education services. The Transition Planning Conference is just one of those steps. 

  • Occurs between 2.3 and 2.9 years old
  • Includes Early Intervention and school staff
  • Special Education eligibility is NOT determined at this meeting (that only happens at a school district Team meeting).
  • Discuss concerns about your child and evaluation process
  • Ask about signing a consent form for school to perform an evaluation. 

The special education eligibility

1. Does the child have a disability listed in the law?

2. Is the child making less progress over time than same age peers?

3. Does the child require specially designed instruction and/or related services to make effective progress?

ALL 3 answers must be YES to receive special education services. You do have rights if you disagree with the outcome. 

Contact Attorney Curran to discuss in more detail what you should do if you believe your young child may need Special Education services. 

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

Tips and Information about the IEP Team Meeting

Meeting.jpg

So much needs to go into preparing for the IEP Team Meeting. Here are just a few pieces of advice and information to be aware of:

Who is the IEP Team?

According to IDEA 2004, Section 1414(d)(1)(B), the IEP team includes: 

(i) the parents of a child with a disability;

(ii) not less than 1 regular education teacher of such child (if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment;

(iii) not less than 1 special education teacher, or where appropriate, not less than 1 special education provider of such child;

(iv) a representative of the local educational agency . . .

(v) an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results . . .

(vi) at the discretion of the parent or the agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel as appropriate; and

(vii) whenever appropriate, the child with a disability.

Parent/Student Concerns Statement

The district needs to include this statement in its entirety as written by the parent/student. Take some time and really think about it. Prepare it in advance and either email it to the proper person or bring a copy to the IEP meeting so they can incorporate it.  Include your greatest concerns, hopes for the student’s accomplishments, concerns regarding the student’s services and/or concerns regarding last year’s IEP. Try and keep this statement as clear, complete but concise as possible. It should not a recap of the child’s entire educational history but a good overview. Try and incorporate some positive statements so that this statement is not perceived as being completely negative or argumentative.

To accept or reject the IEP

It is never advisable to reject the IEP in full. If you reject the IEP in full then the student is no longer eligible for Special Education. The best option is to accept in part and reject in part. It is always better for the student to receive some services (versus none) while the parties work out any conflicts. The District must report a partially or fully rejected IEP to DESE. DESE will send a letter to the parent outlining options to resolve the issues. If a response to a proposed IEP is not received within 30 calendar days, it is considered rejected.  

Do not be concerned if your advocate/attorney seem too friendly with the other side…

Your advocate/attorney agreed to work with you and support you. Do not mistake professionalism and civility as being ‘too friendly’ or a lack of dedication to your side.  Attorneys, and advocates, have an ethical obligation to zealously defend their clients. To do their job well, your attorney/advocate needs to maintain their emotions. If your attorney/advocate is seen as unreasonable or reactionary then the school district may not be willing to work with them.

Student Participation

Students are the focus of special education and, as they grow, students are expected to participate in planning for their own future as much as possible. Students at age 14 are entitled to participate in all Team Meetings. Students at age 18 are adults under Massachusetts law and assume all rights formerly held by their parents for participation and decision making. The student at age 18 will be given the option of assuming all responsibilities, delegating decision-making to their parent/guardian or sharing decision-making with their parent/guardian.

Contact Attorney Curran to arrange an IEP Checkup for your child. This service includes an in-depth examination of your child’s IEP, the most recent school and/or private evaluations of your child, and any other significant records, as well as an initial telephone or in-person consultation.

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

Want some legal assistance but not a full-time lawyer?

free-legal-research-sites.jpg

If you have ever tried going it alone and represented yourself in a legal matter before, you were called a pro se party. As a pro se party you had to figure out for yourself, the legal system as well as all the ins and outs of the rules and pleadings that were necessary. E.M. Curran & Associates LLC can help you with your legal matters in a limited capacity this is called Limited Assistance Representation or L.A.R.  We can provide guidance on the rules of the court, help you fill out forms, review documents and give you feedback, help you draft responses and/or motions, and in some instances we can appear in court with you to help you with a certain part of the case.

Click here to read more about Limited Assistance Representation in Massachusetts

Limited Assistance Representation is much more economical and cost-efficient. The attorney and party enter into a detailed agreement defining what specific and limited tasks the attorney will be responsible for and what tasks the party will be responsible for. Rather than paying for months or even years of legal representation, you can seek legal advice for select issues or tasks such as but not limited to:

  1. Document review: thoroughly review documents, pleadings and other written materials and discuss and explain the content to you.

  2. Consultation/Coaching: evaluate, analyze and help develop a strategy for a particular situation; given you legal advice and inform you of your options.

  3. Specific Services: assist you with a specific service such as ghost-writing a response/letter or legal research about the laws and the relevant cases.

  4. Limited-Scope Attorney Appearance: in very limited instances we can appear in court with you to help you with a certain part of the case.

Contact Attorney Curran to discuss any legal issues you may:

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com

Sign up for a Special Education Workshop

The best thing a parent/guardian of a special needs child can do is educate themselves so that they know what their child's rights are as related to Education matters.  Attend a free workshop offered by our experienced staff. 

butterflies.jpg

Some of the workshop topics we could cover include:

1. What are your rights as a parent/guardian in Special Education?

2. Is your child with an IEP being Suspend or Disciplined? 

3. Transition Planning - Who, When, How and Why

4. The "Nuts & Bolts" of an IEP

5. Early Intervention vs. Special Education - The Importance of Turning Three

Please let us know which topic you would be interested in and we will let you know the dates/times/locations of future workshops. 

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549
ellen@emcurranlegal.com