By Marion Walsh, Esq., Littman Krooks LLP
As the holiday season approaches, our firm thanks those who have trusted us with their children and their education.
For most of our families, the need to learn and to do well in school is as essential as the need to eat and breathe. When a child is struggling in school and unable to learn or attend, as parents, our worlds fall apart. All parents, no matter what their background, want simply for their children to have a better life than they have. The greatest gift any parent can ask for is a healthy, engaged child who is able to attend school and make progress. While this sounds simple, in some cases, it can be extremely complex. In some cases, years of litigation and heartache can result from the wrong placement for a child who just cannot access the public school environment. These situations often seem hopeless, but with patience and tireless advocacy, we have helped parents and students find their way. Remember though, as Dr. Temple Grandin noted, often, in helping children with their struggles, “there is no single magic bullet.”
But fortunately, in some cases, there is a magic bullet. For some of our students, a new school placement has made all the difference. We have represented, among others, children who were bullied and threatened suicide in school but who are now engaged; children for whom school made them physically ill but who are now healthy in a new placement, and children who were having violent meltdowns frequently but who are now receiving support in residential settings. For each of these cases, we worked on a solution and in the best situations, worked with the school districts so that all understood the student’s needs a bit better.
An appropriate placement can change a life. Conversely, in a few cases, the wrong school can be life threatening. Struggling parents and students must not give up. The legal process can be difficult and onerous, but children with disabilities in the United States have the right to a free and appropriate public education and the school must work for the child.
At the holidays approach, take the time to appreciate the greatest gift—children who are healthy and able to attend school and to learn. Do not take normalcy for granted. As for those in your life who are struggling, take the time and effort to truly understand them and make every effort to make sure your school district understands your child also. Never give up and continue to cherish your children.