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Special Education Tip #10: Choose Evaluators Wisely & Stay Organized

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Special Education Tip #10: Choose Evaluators Wisely & Stay Organized

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How to choose Special Education Evaluators or Experts

Deciding to hire an attorney to undertake a special education case is a big decision for many parents. Preparing to file a hearing request with the Bureau of Special Education Appeals is often a long process filled with many unexpected expenses. Therefore, it’s only natural that parents would like to find cost-saving measures, while still creating the strongest case possible for their child. Here are two tips that will accomplish just that:

1. Choose Evaluators Wisely

Independent evaluations are essential to successful outcomes in special education cases. These evaluations have the capacity to pinpoint the exact areas where a child is struggling in as well as outline the optimal program for that individual child. While it may be tempting to find an evaluator based only on price, there are many more factors that parents should consider in order to save money in the long run.

The first factor that parents should consider when selecting an evaluator is whether they have the proper credentials to be administering the selected test measures. Many tests can be administered by a professional with a Master’s degree, however it is important to keep in mind that some assessments should only be conducted or interpreted by evaluators with a doctorate.

Second, the evaluator should have experience working with children who have a similar profile to your child. Some experts work mainly with children on the autism spectrum, while others are more comfortable administering tests that focus on reading disabilities. Relying upon an evaluator who has experience working with children whose strengths and weaknesses are similar to your child will likely result in a much more precise report.

Finally, parents should choose an evaluator who has experience testifying at a hearing. Evaluators provide hearing officers with expert opinions on what an individual child needs. Expert testimony can often win and lose cases, so it is extremely important to choose an evaluator who is comfortable in front of a hearing officer.

By choosing an expert with the proper credentials, who has experience working with children of a similar profile as your own child, and who is willing to testify at a hearing, parents can avoid going through the time and expense of obtaining evaluations that are not strong enough to win their case. Selecting the right expert the first time can save parents the cost of having to repeat evaluations in the future.

2. Stay Organized

In most cases, children have struggled to make progress in school for several years before their parents resort to hiring an attorney. During these early years, it is important for parents to stay organized and create a record. By keeping and maintaining documents in an orderly fashion, parents can save attorneys from spending several hours organizing and locating documents – which ultimately saves parents money on attorney’s fees.

Parents should consider creating binders organized by either year or category. Binders should contain hard copies of all correspondence (including email), evaluations, IEPs, team meeting notes and attendance rosters, signed acceptance or rejection pages, progress reports, test scores, report cards, and parent notes. Samples of your child’s work are also helpful. It is important to keep every document, as it is hard to determine what might be useful in the future.

By creating a logical and organized system early on, it is less likely that documents will become lost over time, and it will save both time and money in the long run. Having carefully organized materials will also help to accurately tell the story of all that has transpired with your child within the school setting.

We know the decision to hire a special education attorney is one that usually comes after much deliberation, and our goal is to provide the necessary assistance and guidance that will help your child get the educational services to which he or she is legally entitled.

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