Special Education Law FAQ

Last updated on June 12, 2024

I have practiced special education law on behalf of Massachusetts parents for more than 20 years. Besides my advocacy for clients in this area, I am also a public advocate for special education through my memberships in the Massachusetts Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, the Asperger’s Association of New England (AANE), and the Special Needs Advocacy Network.

As a leader in this area of the law that is vital to so many parents, I am routinely asked questions about how the system works and what to do if a child is being denied special education services. Here are the answers to some of my most frequently asked questions:

How Do I Know If My Child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) Is Right For Them?

An IEP is a specialized plan to support your child’s educational needs. A proper IEP will accurately identify those needs, in conjunction with your child’s doctors and therapists, along with the school district’s developmental experts. It should contain reasonable action items, such as sessions with needed aides, such as an occupational therapist. You should choose an attorney experienced in creating IEPs to help you.

My Child’s School Is Denying Them Services. What Should I Do?

Once an IEP is in place, the school is responsible for providing internal services laid out in the program. If it does not do so, you may file a complaint or appeal with the school board. If that does not work, you can then move on to a complaint with the state department of education. Past that, you may need to take action in court.

What Does Harassment Look Like In A School Setting?

This can take the form of bullying or harassment from a teacher or other school official, or failure on the part of the school to stop bullying by your child’s classmates. Your child’s IEP can take their vulnerability to bullying into account and create an action plan to stop it.

What Can I Do If My Child’s School Is Threatening To Suspend Or Expel Them?

Massachusetts has a specific law dealing with school discipline for children on an IEP or 504. When a school wants to expel or suspend a child with a disability for more than 10 cumulative days in a school year, you as their parent are entitled to advance written notice and participation in an IEP meeting. Also, the school cannot discipline your child for behavior that is a “manifestation” of their disability. Finally, if your child is wrongfully suspended or expelled, you can appeal the decision to the Bureau of Special Education Appeals.

Do You Have More Questions? Talk To Me.

For more information on special education law and giving your child the education they deserve, call me at Sheridan Law in Medway, Massachusetts. I can be reached at 508-507-8222, or if you prefer, via email. I assist parents throughout the state.