Special Education

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), between 2018 and 2019, there were more than 7 million students ages 3 to 21 receiving special education. While the recognition of and attention given to these children and young adults is a positive step, if your school or educational institution is not complying with the law, or if you need assistance getting appropriate services for your child, we can help. At the Law Offices of Richard A. Kelley in North Andover, you’ll find more than a skilled legal guidance. You’ll find an attorney who is the father of children who were born 16 weeks prematurely, at a mere one pound four ounces and who had learning disabilities. Moreover, you’ll find an advocate for children in the custody of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), having completed training to become a Special Education Surrogate Parent for these children to ensure they are properly and adequately represented.

Educational opportunities for every child

Special education provides students with identified disabilities specialized instruction designed to meet their unique learning needs, giving them the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential. In the United States, special education is delivered, free of charge, through the public education system, thanks to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Every child has the right to the dignity and the opportunity to develop their talents to the best of their ability that education can provide. Since 1975, when Congress enacted the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, the law has stated that all children “have a right to education, and to establish a process by which State and local educational agencies may be held accountable for providing educational services for all handicapped children.” In Massachusetts, this includes children with:

  • Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD)
  • Communication Impairment
  • Developmental Delay
  • Emotional/Mental Health Disabilities
  • Health Impairment (that limits strength, vitality or alertness)
  • Intellectual Impairment
  • Sensory Impairment (blind, deaf, or deaf-blind)
  • Specific learning abilities (such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia)
  • Executive Function Disorders
  • Other disorders or disabilities as may be diagnosed

Helping your child get everything that he or she needs and is entitled to receive

The most important function of a special education attorney is to represent the legal rights of children and their parents. There are a number of laws that help ensure that children who have special educational needs get respect and opportunities that are afforded to all students.

Federal laws include:

  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): This is the federal law that “makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children.” Children ages 3 through 21 receive special education and related services under Part B. Infants and toddlers receive early intervention services under Part C.
  • Section 504/FAPE: For students who do not qualify under IDEA, a Section 504 Plan may entitle a developmentally or physically disabled student provisions such as additional time to complete a test or preferential seating arrangements, among others. Eligibility under this plan means your child has at least one significant impairment, such as ambulating; problems with sight, hearing, or breathing functions; or performing manual tasks and self-care, among others, that interfere with life activities.
  • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): Signed into law in December of 2015, its provisions are intended to “help to ensure success for students and schools.” Those provisions include upholding critical protections for disadvantaged and high-need students.

Massachusetts laws regarding special education include:

  • 603 CMR 28.00: The stated purpose of this statute is to “ensure that eligible Massachusetts students receive special education services designed to develop the student’s individual educational potential in the least restrictive environment in accordance with applicable state and federal laws.”
  • 603 CMR 18.00: Whether in a public or private special education day school or a residential program, this law “governs the program and safety standards for day and residential special education schools operated by public and private entities and serving publicly funded students.”

Laws regarding special education can be complex and may be changed or amended. We can help you understand these statutes and help ensure that every legal avenue is explored to ensure that your child gets the best possible opportunity.

What our special education lawyer can do for you

In short, we make sure your child gets the best possible opportunities. With both extensive special education legal knowledge and personal experience as a parent, attorney Richard A. Kelley can help with advocacy and education law concerns and problems of all types, including:

  • Securing appropriate educational services for your child
  • Locating educational resources for your special-needs child
  • Handling school disciplinary matters
  • Helping to Develop an appropriate Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which outlines the special education services your child should receive
  • Reviewing all educational records to advocate for appropriate services for your child
  • Identifying and securing placement in a proper educational setting for your child
  • Working with the School District to ensure that your child does not become a target of harassment or bullying

We help get your son or daughter the education they deserve

To learn more about how we can help and how we will advocate for your child, please contact us online or call us at 781-460-9651 to schedule a consultation.