Education

Does Your Child Have Special Needs?

Parents of children with special needs face significant challenges to receiving a free and appropriate education in school. It is often more difficult for parents who have low to moderate level incomes. As a former District of Columbia public school teacher and adjunct professor of education, our founding attorney, Nigel M. Atwell, is uniquely qualified to be an advocate for your child, whether they attend a traditional public school or a public charter school.

Understanding Your Legal Rights Available Under IDEA

The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that establishes the legal obligations of schools to educate children with special needs and a process for enforcing those obligations through due process hearings and monitoring. Under IDEA, an eligible child is one with a disability that includes:

  • Intellectual or learning disabilities
  • Hearing, speech or language impairments
  • Visual impairment or blindness
  • Emotional disturbances
  • Autism or traumatic brain injuries

Public schools are required to create an IEP (Individualized Education Program) to meet the child’s specific educational needs for eligible children. The IEP will describe your child’s current performance levels, measurable performance goals, the specialized instructional services that will be provided and any accommodations your child may require. The law requires that the IEP be implemented within the least restrictive environment.

As a parent or legal caregiver, you have the right to be involved in the evaluation of your child and in the creation and monitoring of the IEP. You have the right to initiate a due process hearing when your child is not making meaningful progress, if the IEP is inadequate or if the IEP is not being implemented. There are several remedies that hearing officers may award in order to ensure that your child receives the appropriate education to which they are entitled.

The IEP Process: Count On Us To Help Resolve Disputes

It can be difficult for parents to understand the complexities of the IEP process, as well as the terminology used in IEPs, psychoeducational evaluations and teaching assessments. Disagreements frequently arise over the evaluation process, the adequacy of IEP goals or whether your child has made meaningful educational progress. At The Law Office of Nigel M. Atwell, we are intimately familiar with the IEP process.

We will communicate with your child’s school administrators and teachers and other members of the school’s multidisciplinary team. We will also communicate with independent psychologists and service providers to ensure that you are a fully informed, active participant in the creation of the IEP, that you can monitor its implementation and that you can advocate for your child when they are not making meaningful academic or social progress.

Whom We Represent And Services We Provide

We represent children enrolled in traditional public schools and public charter schools. We have a particular interest in representing low-income and moderate-income parents of children with disabilities and children who have not been evaluated or identified as having a disability but who are struggling not just academically but socially as well. Our services include:

  • Safeguarding your differently abled child from abuse, neglect, harassment and discrimination
  • Seeking remedies when your child’s school excludes them from instruction, school programs and school activities
  • Explaining your rights and the school’s obligations under:
    • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
    • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
    • The District of Columbia Human Rights Act
    • The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Advocating for appropriate learning goals in the IEP
  • Ensuring the use of research-based teaching practices and qualified teachers
  • Monitoring academic progress and educational goals
  • Attending IEP and other meetings concerning your child
  • Initiating due process hearings
  • Settle due process complaints
  • Appearing at discipline hearings and manifestation determination reviews

Our perspective, based on years of relevant experience teaching in public schools and advocating on behalf of children with disabilities, uniquely positions The Law Office of Nigel M. Atwell to advocate for you and your child.

Contact Us Today

At The Law Office of Nigel M. Atwell, our practice is focused on protecting the rights of children with special needs. Please call our office in Washington, D.C., at 202-899-1307 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation to evaluate your case.