Responsive
Legal Services

Locations in

Boston | Mansfield | Braintree
Canton | Plymouth

Call781-930-3127

divider

Effective Parents Build a Team of Professionals to Evaluate and Advocate for their Children

separator


Effective Parents Build a Team of Professionals to Evaluate and Advocate for their Children

/ 0 Comments /

Build a team of professionals to evaluate and advocate for your child

Convincing a school district to increase your child’s services or to change his or her placement almost always requires the assistance of a professional who practices in the area of your child’s disability. Whether it is a neuropsychologist who can testify as to your child’s cognitive abilities, or a therapist to describe your child’s mental health needs, the participation of these professionals is absolutely critical to your case. If you end up at a due process hearing, I would say that it is practically impossible to prevail without the expert testimony of highly qualified professionals.

Retaining experts can be expensive, and it often takes several months just to schedule an evaluation and to obtain the reports. Parents often ask me if they can go without expert assistance and if they can just testify as to their own observations of their child. I do not doubt that parents very often know more about their child’s needs than anyone they could hire. Unfortunately, however, the testimony of an expert – that is, a person with specialized training, education and experience in their field – is the most critical component of your case. School officials and hearing officers expect to hear from experts who will explain why your child needs specialized services or a different placement. If you are going to a due process hearing, it is short sighted to scrimp on the expert.

How do you find qualified experts? Very often, they are the professionals who are already involved in providing treatment to your child. Other times, you may obtain referrals from your child’s primary care physician or through your insurance company. Sometimes, if you are lucky, your insurance may actually cover some or all of the costs of an expert evaluation. Special education lawyers and advocates are also a good resource to help you find experts who have experience testifying in these types of cases.

One important piece of advice: make sure that you ask anyone who provides care to your child if they are willing to testify at a hearing if it is necessary. Be aware that many physicians and other providers do not want to testify and will decline to do so. If they will not agree to testify, you may want to reconsider using their services. Recently I was informed by a psychiatrist at a major Boston hospital, who has treated my client for years that he will not be permitted by “hospital policy” to testify at an upcoming hearing. Even though this psychiatrist has written an excellent report, my case will be severely weakened if he ultimately refuses to appear to actually testify before the hearing officer. Expert testimony is critical to success at a hearing, and you do not want to find out when it is too late that the professional who has been working with your child will not take the time to provide the support that is needed. It is important to ask the professionals working with your child if they are willing and able to provide testimony at a due process hearing, if need be.

separator

separator