Special Education Attorney in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Florida
Consultations Regarding Special Education Needs | Initial Evaluations and Classification | Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) | 504 Plans | Out-of-District Placement | Inclusion Programs | Extended School Year and Extended School Day | Due Process Hearings | Evaluation of IEPs | Help Obtaining Necessary Services | Access to School Buildings and Programs
If you have a child with a disability, you may find it challenging trying to get the services they need from a school in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. Federal and state laws guarantee that children with disabilities receive a Free Appropriate Public Education and related therapies such as speech, physical therapy, behavioral therapy, and any other service the child may require to make meaningful progress based on his or her individualized needs.
Parents know their children better than anyone. However, parents often do not know what services to ask for or what their rights are to ensure their children get the educational programming and services they desperately need to be successful. The educational program, placement, services, and supports for each child with a disability is governed by an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”). It is absolutely critical to know what to ask for in an IEP and to ensure it contains everything your child needs. It is equally important to build in regular methods for tracking the IEP to ensure it is being implemented properly and if your child’s needs are being met.
Evaluations, eligibility determinations, and IEP meetings can be intimidating, complicated, and time consuming for parents. It can be even more intimidating, complicated, and challenging to get your local school district to place your child in a specialized school outside your school district when your district cannot provide the educational program and services your child needs. At the law offices of Hornstine Law, LLC, we understand these concerns. We offer clients extensive knowledge of the laws and procedures governing the rights of special education students in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We have experience in getting students with disabilities desperately needed programs. We aggressively protect the rights of students with disabilities, working directly with school districts, teachers, and school administrators to work out effective solutions for children that face extraordinary challenges.
We offer clients extensive knowledge of the laws and procedures governing the rights of special education students. We aggressively protect the rights of students with disabilities, working directly with school districts, teachers and school administrators to work out effective solutions of children that face extraordinary challenges. We place a premium on personal service and attention, always striving to treat our clients in the same manner we would want to be treated.
Our clients all receive a free initial consultation. To set up an appointment with a knowledgeable special education law attorney, contact us online or for assistance in Pennsylvania and New York call our office at 215-568-4968, for assistance in New Jersey call our office at 609-523-2222, and for assistance in Florida, call our office at 727-538-4178.
Please complete our special education form and return it to our office. This will ensure that we have the correct information regarding your child and the issues that must be addressed.
When You Need Help with Special Education Programs
We work with parents, guardians and their children, handling all matters related to:
- The application for and the preparation and implementation of an Individualized Education Plan — We have successfully helped other parents put together IEPs that meet the needs of their children. We can also work with you to set up regular monitoring of the effectiveness of an IEP. In addition to preparing and filing all necessary documents, we will represent you at all meetings and hearings necessary to put an appropriate and meaningful IEP in place for your child.
- Obtaining access to needed services — We will work with you to secure any special services necessary to implement your child’s IEP, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, life skills coaching and reading programs.
- Access to facilities and special programs — We will work directly with schools and school districts to obtain access to any necessary buildings, including classrooms, labs and other facilities, and to allow your child access to any existing programs that may benefit them.
Initial Evaluations and Classification
School Districts are legally obligated to identify, refer, and evaluate students who are in potential need of special education. All too often, though, they fail to do so. Parents must ask school districts to evaluate their child and classify him or her to receive special education.
This is a complicated, difficult, and stressful time for parents. Without being classified for special education, children will struggle and may even regress, while parents pay out of pocket for important therapies their child needs. Our attorneys can help you avoid such awful outcomes. We will help you understand which evaluations should be conducted, which evaluations should be declines, and can help ensure your child is classified to receive special education. We have experience helping clients get their children classified for special education and related services, even when school districts initially refuse to do so. We also helped clients obtain IEPs when their school districts only offered them a 504 Plan.
IEPs and 504 Accommodations Plans
Each child with a disability that impedes his or her education is entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education, and related therapies, to ensure that child makes meaningful progress in his or her program. Some students may only need a specific plan of accommodations such as preferred seating close to the teacher and extended time on exams. This uniform plan of accommodations available throughout all aspects of the student’s educational day is known as a “504 Plan.” Some students may require an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”). An IEP essentially customizes the educational program and placement, along with the type and frequency of related therapies to ensure a child with a disability obtain an appropriate education.
The attorneys at Hornstine Law, LLC understand the importance of obtaining a 504 Plan or an IEP to ensure your child with special needs gets the program and services he or she requires. We have extensive knowledge and experience in helping our clients understand the differences between a 504 Plan and an IEP. We have helped our clients obtain IEPs and 504 Plans. Our attorneys will help you know what to ask for to get the most out of your child’s IEP or 504 Plan. We will help you understand how to navigate the complexities of IEP meetings. Our clients feel confident in attending their child’s IEP meeting. Whether it’s your first IEP meeting, or whether you have attended IEP meetings for years, we will help you prepare, know what to expect, and get the most out of these important meetings.
All too often, school districts tell parents that they cannot provide the program or therapy a child with disabilities requires. Schools tell parents they simply don’t have the program or therapy available or that the school has never provided it in the past. If a school truly cannot provide what a child with a disability requires to receive an appropriate education and related services, then that child is entitled to be placed at the school district’s expense in a specialized school outside of the district that can meet the child’s needs. These can be complex and challenging cases. The attorneys at Hornstine Law, LLC have helped many clients obtain out-of-district placements, including cases where the student’s needs are so significant or specialized that the student requires a residential school in order to receive an appropriate education. If your child needs an out-of-district placement to receive an appropriate education, we will never stop fighting to ensure your child receives it
The law guarantees that a student with a disability, who receives an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”), will be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment (“LRE”). The concept of LRE is more complicated than it sounds. To boil it down, the LRE is basically the school program your child would be attending if he or she had no disability and it is the program that gives your child the most opportunities to interact with typically developing peers. We have seen countless cases in which school districts improperly relegate all children with disabilities to self-contained classrooms for the entire school day, depriving them of crucial opportunities to interact with non-disabled peers.
For students who need an inclusionary program, we have fought hard to force districts to provide this. This has involved helping districts understand and think outside the box about inclusion programs and services. It has also involved litigating with districts to force them to establish inclusion programs where none previously existed in a given school district.
In addition to ensuring that students with special needs obtain the programming and service they require through IEPs and 504 Accommodations Plans, the attorneys at Hornstine Law, LLC are dedicated to making sure each child with special needs receives the therapies he or she needs. Those therapies, referred to as “related services,” can include the following: speech/language, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social skills training (both individual and small group), behavioral therapy, behavior home-programming, counseling, adaptive technology, assistive technology and communication devices and services (such as iPads and smartboards). Related services may also includes the need for a properly trained one-to-one aide for a student with special needs, both in school and on the bus. Specialized busing or other types of transportation vehicles, including other customized transportation-related needs are also included in the related services to which a child with a disability is entitled.
Extended School Day and Extended Year Programs
Many students with disabilities require a longer school day in order to make meaningful progress. For instance, a child with a specific learning disability in math or reading may need tutoring before or after school in addition to services received during the school day in order for that child to obtain an appropriate education. Similarly, some students may require behavior or social skills therapy at home or in the community after school. The length of the school day can be extended to customize the educational program and services that students with disabilities require in order to make progress. An extended school day, usually referred to as an extended day program, is one available option for students with special needs. However, districts often outright refuse to even discuss this. The attorneys at Hornstine Law, LLC understand the importance of an extended day program for students and parents. We think outside the box and we have litigated numerous cases to get the extended day programs our clients’ children desperately need.
In addition to Extended Day Programs, many students with special needs require services throughout the entire year. They may need additional academic programming or therapy during the summer or they may regress or take an unreasonably long time to pick up in September where they left off in June. Similarly, some students’ needs are so significant that they will regress if they have a gap in programming or services of more than a day. Extending the length of the school year for students with disabilities, normally referred to as an Extended School Year (“ESY”) encompasses programming during the summer, as well as during other school holidays such as Winter Recess and Spring Break. Do not let your child’s hard work toward his or her goals be undone because of an inappropriate gap in programming or services. We have extensive knowledge as to the types of programs and services available for ESY and we have helped numerous clients obtain the ESYs their children need. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience you need and we are committed to making sure every child receives the education he or she is entitled to under the law.
Extracurricular activities provide invaluable benefits for students. They provide opportunities to learn and practice social skills, develop self-confidence, hand-eye coordination and other motor skills, motivation, and independence. Many schools districts are quick to boast about their award-winning sports teams or the variety of extracurricular activities available to their students. However, the opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in extracurricular activities can be limited or non-existent. The law guarantees that students with disabilities are given an equal opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities, such as sports, drama club, chess club, chorus, or any other such activities. This is true even for students who are placed out-of-district for their educational program during the school day. In other words, school districts are obligated to provide transportation, support, and reasonable accommodations to enable students with disabilities to participate in extracurricular activities.
If your child is not currently participating in extracurricular activities, our attorneys are here to help you understand what to ask for and how to ask for it from your school district. If the district refuses to provide what your child is entitled to under the law, we will fight aggressively for you and your family to ensure your child has an equal opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities.
Students with disabilities, who have an IEP, are entitled to be educated until the school year ending when they turn 21 years of age, depending on their individualized needs. School districts often misdirect parents until they are able to graduate the child or they may threaten parents that their child will not receive a diploma or be entitled to participate in their graduation ceremony. Districts can try to graduate children with disabilities before they are ready, in an effort to reduce their budget. Further, districts may refuse to provide the necessary vocational or transitional services students between the ages of 18 and 21 need to receive an appropriate education. All of these scenarios and similar situations are inappropriate, unfair, and violate federal and state education and anti-discrimination laws. The attorneys at Hornstine Law, LLC know all too well how districts interfere with the graduation rights of children with special needs. We have prevented many districts from doing this to our clients and we are committed to zealously protecting you and your child regarding graduation issues.
Protecting Special Education Students from Inappropriate Punishment
We handle all matters related to the needs of special education students, helping you with the application for, as well as the preparation and implementation of, an Individual Education Program. We work with parents of children with any type of disability that can present challenges in school, including:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Down Syndrome
- Cerebral Palsy
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Attention deficit disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Specific Learning Disabilities such as Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia and Dyspraxia
- Developmental Delays
- Depression, Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and other psychiatric disabilities
- Speech and Language Disabilities
- Auditory Processing Disorders
- Medical Disabilities such as Diabetes, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and the need for private duty nursing
- Other Physical Disabilities
We are also involved in early childhood and early intervention programs.
We will be your advocate with schools, school districts and school officials, helping you put measures in place to protect your child if there are future behavioral issues. We will also be an advocate for your child in situations where there is evidence of bullying or harassment based on a disability.
Contact Hornstine Law, LLC
To set up a free initial consultation, contact our office by e-mail or for assistance in Pennsylvania and New York call our office at 215-568-4968, for assistance in New Jersey call our office at 609-523-2222, and for assistance in Florida, call our office at 727-538-4178. Evening and weekend meetings can be scheduled at your request. Our Philadelphia office is located within easy access from PATCO and SEPTA.
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