13: When Do You Need A Special Education Attorney w/ Ashley Van Cleef

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Manage episode 285592164 series 2842580
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Website: https://lawforparents.com/
Email: admin@lawforparents.com
Phone: (301) 882-2001
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Ashley Van Cleef is a Special Education Attorney in Maryland. Prior to going into private practice, she was a Special Education teacher, as well as an attorney for the school districts; it's no exaggeration when I say she has extensive experience on both sides of the table.
In this conversation, Ashley explains the role of a Special Education attorney and why it's important to take a collaborative, rather than confrontational, approach - at least in the beginning. Teachers and administrators are often doing the best they can with limited resources, they are required to deliver an "adequate" education - which may put them at odds with parents who want the "best possible".
Ashley says "lack of trust leads to a desire for control", and I've seen/lived this first-hand. I don't think it's just parents who feel this way, it can be difficult for teachers and/or administrators to trust parents - imagine working in an environment where you may not agree 100% with what you're being told to do but you need to defend it. Then you have people attacking you, perhaps challenging the idea you actually know what you are doing.
The (2) biggest mistakes Ashley has seen parents make over and over again are not giving the proper amount of notice prior to removing the student from public school to go to a private placement and burning bridges with teachers and administrators. In Maryland, it's a requirement to give (10) days notice prior to removing your student, failure to do so can weaken your case when petitioning to have the State pay for private school tuition. Check with your state to determine what, if any, similar requirements exist.
If your child is going to be in a school district until age 21 it doesn't help you to make enemies within the administration through personal attacks or being difficult to work with. Think of people in your life who you couldn't stand being around - how much did you want to do for them? Neither Ashley nor I am saying to roll over and let the schools walk all over you; however, you don't have to start extreme. Keep calm and document everything, build the case through facts with evidence; make it as difficult as possible to refute. Judges rule based on this type of information, not emotion.
If you think you need help, schedule a consult. Waiting until things get unbearable is never the right answer - although all too often this is exactly what we do; whether it relates to our cars, our health or our pets. If something feels off to you talk to a professional, the worst they can do is tell you there is nothing to be concerned about.
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