Practice Areas

Special Education

Every child is unique, and the law provides that every child is entitled to a meaningful education based on their unique needs, regardless of abilities.  Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other federal and state laws and regulations, schools and educators must provide every child with all the services and accommodations necessary for them to receive a meaningful education.  This includes children with disabilities.  Under the law, all children between the ages of 3 and 21 with physical, emotional, learning or cognitive disabilities are entitled to what is called “special education.”

YOUR CHILD’S RIGHTS

School districts must provide a child with disabilities with special education, an educational program individually designed to meet the child’s unique needs and that prepares the child for employment and independent living.  This education must account for the child’s disability and offer the opportunity for significant learning at public expense.  The school district must also provide developmental, corrective, and supportive services necessary for the child to receive a benefit from the educational program, including transportation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech/language therapy, counseling or psychological services, and even parent counseling and training.   All of this must be provided in the least restrictive environment, or, in other words, to the maximum extent appropriate the child with a disability must be educated together in the general education classroom with children without disabilities.  The school district must provide appropriate aids and services to ensure this happens.  Children with disabilities must also be given the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities and non-academic classes (such as music, art, and gym) to the same extent as children without disabilities. 

THE SCHOOL DISTRICT’S OBLIGATIONS

To develop each child’s unique Individualized Education Plan (IEP), the school district convenes a child study team consisting of a school psychologist, social worker, and others, who work with the child’s teachers and parents.  Each child is also assigned a case manager to work as the point person for coordinating the development, monitoring, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the IEP.  Ideally, the child study team and parents will work together and create an IEP carefully tailored to the child’s needs, and the child will receive a meaningful education that prepares him or her for life after schooling ends.   

Unfortunately, many parents learn that the ideal is far from the norm.  Instead, parents often face difficult, uncooperative, and even bullying district personnel.  They might ignore the parents’ input because they insist that they know what the child needs because they are the professionals.  Far too often, school district personnel overlook the individual needs of the child, and instead focus on other concerns, such as budgeting or personnel requirements.  Many times, the district will try to fit the child’s needs into the school’s existing structure or program, a one-size-fits-all approach, or will dump all children with disabilities into a single school or classroom, segregated from the other children, because aids and services are not available.  School districts violate the law in a number of ways, including, most commonly:

    • Failing to develop or implement an IEP addressing the child’s unique needs.
    • Failing to allow parents to participate meaningfully in the IEP process
    • Failing to prevent punishment of a child for actions caused by the child’s disability.
    • Failing to provide education in the least restrictive environment to the maximum extent appropriate, in the general education classroom with children without disabilities.
    • Failing to conduct the necessary evaluations.
    • Failing to provide extended school year services.
    • Failing to allow a child with disabilities the chance to participate in extracurricular activities. 

Each of these actions violates the law.  A disability should not subject a child to unfair treatment.  For each child with a disability, the school district has a legal obligation to develop and implement an IEP with full participation of the child and parents.  The parents know the child better than any teacher or administrator.  The school district also must provide for the child independent of budgetary or staffing concerns.  But parent frequently do not know their legal rights.  Intimidated by school district personnel, or simply convinced that the district has their child’s best interests at heart, parents submit to IEPs and actions that do not provide their child with the education he or she is entitled to under the law.  This has a serious impact on the child’s educational progress.   

LEGAL SERVICES FOR YOU AND YOUR CHILD

The Law Offices of Todd Wilson provides practical and exhaustive advice on your child’s right to an education.  Mr. Wilson will also provide assertive and persistent legal representation to ensure that school districts provide your child with the education he or she is entitled to under the law.

    • Consultations
    • IEP meetings
    • Enforcing and revising IEPs
    • Annual review of IEPs
    • Section 504 plans
    • Testing accommodations
    • Mediations
    • Placements
    • Extended school year issues
    • Supplementary aids and services
    • Transportation
    • Due Process hearings
    • Litigation

Mr. Wilson is a tireless advocate for children with special needs and their families, to ensure they get the services and support they are entitled to under the law.  Having clashed with school district personnel on IEP issues with one of his own children, Mr. Wilson is sensitive to the emotional of these disputes, and will work to devise and implement an effective education plan that prepares children for life. 

FIGHTING SEGREGATION OF CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES

Currently, Mr. Wilson is involved in the largest special education case in New Jersey history, representing Disability Rights New Jersey, the Education Law Center, the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of New Jersey and The Arc of New Jersey on behalf of children with disabilities across the state in a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey against the New Jersey Department of Education to enforce laws governing the education of children with disabilities.  With co-counsel Lowenstein Sandler, the Education Law Center, Disability Rights New Jersey, and Loughlin & Latimer.  The suit alleges that children with disabilities are systematically segregated from classrooms with children who do not have disabilities, in violation of the law, including IDEA’s inclusion mandate.  Children with disabilities in segregated special education settings face rote and mechanical instruction and low expectations.  In general education settings, these children are often denied the aids, services and accommodations needed to receive an appropriate education. They are often punished with loss of recess, points and activities, and are retained for failing grades or promoted without any educational gains.  Conversely, benefits to inclusion include improved academic skills, higher grades, higher scores on standardized tests, larger friendship networks, improved attendance and higher self-esteem.  Benefits to non-disabled children include improved reading and mathematics performance and social and developmental benefits, such as improved understanding of, and relationships with, children with disabilities. 


The Law Offices of Todd Wilson, LLC is located in Toms River, Ocean County, New Jersey, and serves clients throughout the State of New Jersey, including:

Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, and Ocean, and municipalities such as Aberdeen, Absecon, Allenhurst, Allentown, Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Atlantic Highlands, Avon, Barnegat, Bass River, Bay Head, Bayville, Beach Haven, Beachwood, Belmar, Berkeley, Bordentown, Bradley Beach, Brick, Brielle, Brigantine, Browns Mills, Burlington, Camden, Carteret, Chatsworth, Cherry Hill, Cinnaminson, Colts Neck, Cranbury, Deal, Delanco, Delran, Dunellen, Eagleswood, East Brunswick, East Windsor, Eatontown, Edison, Egg Harbor, Englishtown, Evesham, Ewing, Farmingdale, Forked River, Freehold, Haddonfield, Hamilton, Harvey Cedars, Hazlet, Helmetta, Highland Park, Highlands, Hightstown, Holmdel, Howell, Island Heights, Jackson, Jamesburg, Keansburg, Keyport, Lacey, Lanoka Harbor, Lavalette, Little Egg Harbor, Little Silver, Long Beach (LBI), Long Branch, Lumberton, Manalapan, Manasquan, Manchester, Mantoloking, Marlboro, Matawan, Medford, Metuchen, Middletown, Millstone, Milltown, Monroe, Moorestown, Mt. Holly, Mt. Laurel, Mullica, Neptune, New Brunswick, New Egypt, North Brunswick, Ocean, Ocean Gate, Old Bridge, Pemberton, Perth Amboy, Pine Beach, Piscataway, Plainsboro, Plumsted, Point Pleasant, Princeton, Red Bank, Rumson, Sayreville, Seaside, Shamong, Ship Bottom, Shrewsbury, South Amboy, South Brunswick, South Plainfield, South Toms River, Southampton, Spotswood, Spring Lake, Stafford, Surf City, Tinton Falls, Toms River, Trenton, Tuckerton, Union Beach, Upper Freehold, Ventnor, Voorhees, Wall, Washington, West Windsor, Whiting, Wildwood, Willingboro, Woodbridge, and Wrightstown.


THE LAW OFFICES OF TODD WILSON, LLC
614 Main Street – Suite 201, Toms River, New Jersey 08753
Phone: 732-350-7646    Fax: 732-608-8482
 
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