with offices in Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr, & Lancaster (610) 922-4200
Our firm's experienced attorneys help you to understand not just your child's differences and disabilities, but also his or her academic potential. We can help develop an ambitious individualized educational program (IEP) that aims towards that potential. We collaborate with experts to improve IEPs during meetings with the child's IEP team, and in administrative due process hearings.
Lawsuits do not necessarily fix an IEP. But they push the school district in the right direction and can provide children with compensation for past violations. Parents should cooperate with their district before, during and after litigation to identify their child's needs and develop appropriate programs and services.
We've succeeded in and out of court. We always hope to resolve any dispute with a school district without the expense and aggravation of a lawsuit. Some school districts need more prompting than others, however.
We work closely with
180 South Broadway, Suite 302
White Plains, NY 10605
DUTCHESS COUNTY OFFICE
1136 Route 9
Wappingers Falls, NY 12590
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Some of our Successes
We opened this firm with a belief in the civil rights principle of "inclusion" for children with special needs. Inclusion flows directly from the Civil Rights battles of the 1950s and 1960s, when Supreme Court cases like the 1954 landmark Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas declared that racial segregation violated the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law. In 1971, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania cited Brown v. Board in the decision Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARC) vs. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, declaring: "Having undertaken to provide a free public education to all of its children, including its exceptional children, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania may not deny any mentally retarded child access to a free public program of education and training." In Mills v Board of Education of the District of Columbia, the D.C. District Court cited Brown and its 1954 companion case, Bolling v. Sharpe, to find that the District had violated the rights of exceptional children both by denying them educational opportunities afforded to typical children, and by doing so without providing them basic procedural rights - due process - before depriving them of education. The Mills court issued a 15-point decree requiring the District to provide specific procedural safeguards to parents of exceptional children.
Following the PARC and Mills cases, Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, the predecessor law to the current Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"). Codifying PARC and Mills, the Act's legislative history states that "the right to education of handicapped children is a present right, one which should be implemented immediately ... Congress. . . has a responsibility to assure equal protection of the laws and thus to take action to assure that handicapped children throughout the United States have available to them appropriate educational services." S. REP. No. 168, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. at 17 (1975, reprinted in  U.S. CODE CONG. & AD. NEWS 1425, 1441).
The principle of inclusion is still codified in the IDEA, mandating that children with special needs be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) - learning to the maximum extent possible along-side their non-disabled peers. We believe that inclusion benefits "typical" students as well as those with disabilities, developing the qualities of acceptance and empathy in non-disabled children. Thus, school districts that seek to avoid the perceived added expense of full inclusion are not merely acting in penny-wise, pound-foolish fashion, but doing a disservice to their entire student bodies.