If your child is taking special education classes at school, you may be considering hiring an attorney or an advocate to ensure that your child receives all of the necessary services. Many people believe that the roles of an advocate and an attorney are the same.
There are some similarities between the two roles. Both can review the IEP plan that the school has prepared for the child. Additionally, they can contact the school on your child's behalf, attend meetings concerning the IEP plan, and help you develop a strategy to work with your child's school. They may also recommend educational resources and specialists.
Nevertheless, there are still differences between an advocate and a special education attorney. Here are a few of them:
A special education advocate is available to help guide you through your child's educational process. However, an attorney offers representation during a dispute between you and the child's school.
A person does not require a certification or a license to serve as an advocate. However, a special education attorney must be licensed to practice law in your particular state.
Due to the licensure, the lawyer is authorized to provide you with legal advice. Additionally, they can prepare your legal documents and represent you in a court of law if you choose to sue the school. They can also serve as your representation during a hearing.
The advocate may represent you during a hearing but cannot perform the legal duties of the attorney.
Many advocates have a background in special education. They may have taught or served as a specialist. As a result, they may be able to give sound educational advice and to help you strategize to maximize your child's learning environment. They may also help you navigate the structure of the school system.
The attorney can provide extensive knowledge of the law. Thus, they can let you know what the school can and cannot legally do. Additionally, some special education attorneys have a substantial amount of experience dealing with special education cases.
Many educational institutions exercise great caution when dealing with an attorney. They view the presence of a lawyer as an indication that you are serious about your concerns, and thus, may respond with more haste.
If you are concerned about your child's education and would like to hire a special education attorney, schedule a consultation with a lawyer in your local area.