Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What is your child entitled to who has Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

The United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights ("OCR") issued guidance to public schools, including charter schools, clarifying their obligations to provide students who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ("ADHD") with equal education opportunities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  This new guidance explains Section 504 and schools' obligations to provide education services to students with disabilities, including students with ADHD.  See Dear Colleague Letter and Resource Guide on Students with ADHD.
To be clear:  
  • Schools must evaluate a student when a student needs or is suspected to need special education or related services.
  • Services that schools provide must be based on a student's unique / specific / individualized needs and not on generalizations about disabilities.  As discussed, a school must not deny services to a student who is doing well academically and ignore that the child is substantially limited in major life activities, such as reading, learning, writing and thinking since that child is likely a person with a disability.
  • Students who have behavior issues, or do not focus or are distractible, could have ADHD and should be evaluated to determine their educational needs.
  •  to the guidance, the Department also released a Know Your Rights document that provides a brief overview of schools’ obligations to students with ADHD.

The US Department of Education also release a KNOW YOUR RIGHTS document that provides a brief overview of schools' obligations to students with ADHD.  

For more information, or to help access services for your child, visit Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Don't let RTI delay special education evaluation

School districts and charter schools that fail to evaluate or delay evaluating a student because the student is receiving RTI interventions may be violating their Child Find duties.  Recently one court granted parents reimbursement for private placement when the judge determined that the school failed to evaluate a student for Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) because it was providing RTI.  In that case, the school district refused to evaluate a 2md grade student who was reading significantly below grade level.  The school argued that the student could make some progress with classroom interventions. An independent evaluation showed that the child may have had a specific learning disability in reading and so the judge fules that the district should have evaluated the  student for special education.  Although RTI interventions may help students who need additional academic support, schools may not use the RTI process to delay providing comprehensive evaluations for students with suspected disabilities. The court found that the school district had enough information to suspect that the child needed special education, and so becasue the shcool did not evalute the student, the court held that the district denied the child FAPE, and awarded parents reimbursement .

Remember, school districts and charter schools have an on-going affirmative duty under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to locate, identify, and evaluate all students who MAY need special education due to a disability.  Schools can find themselves in hot water if they tell parents that they have no reason to believe that the student ha an IDEA-eligible disability.  Schools that can show progress using RTI may be better able to show that RTI is working, but if the student is not making progress, then the school may be denying the student a FAPE if it does not evaluate the student for special education.

For more information:  KGK Law 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

About special education attorney Lori Kirsch-Goodwin

Lori Kirsch-Goodwin, Esq.

Lori was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 14, 1962. She attended Syracuse University, graduating with a B.A. in 1984, and then went to law school at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut (now known as Quinnipiac University). There she was a member of Phi Alpha Delta. Lori obtained her Juris Doctorate in 1987. She was admitted to the New Jersey bar that same year and then the New York bar in 1988. She began honing her skills as a plaintiff personal injury litigator at Guerevitch & Goldberg in Pearl River, New York.

Her next position was in Manhattan at the law firm of Royce & Miller where she continued as a plaintiff personal injury litigator. After practicing for several years on the plaintiff side, she accepted a position at a defense firm, across the river from the Big Apple in Clifton, New Jersey. There she spent five years an associate for Klein Chapman Firm as an insurance defense litigator. When presented with an opportunity with a prominent law firm in Newark, New Jersey, Mandel Berezin & Booker, she accepted same and moved back to representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases.

In 1995, after being married to Jeff Goodwin for five years, the couple decided to move to nicer weather and start a family. After much deliberation they chose and moved to Arizona.

Lori was admitted to the Arizona bar in 1995 and has been practicing here ever since. Her first position in Arizona was at Meehan and Associates in Tucson, AZ. There she learned the laws that were specific to the state.

In July of that same year Lori and her husband were blessed with beautiful twin boys. The children were born prematurely and out of that experience Lori co-authored the book, “You Are Not Alone.”

In 1998 Lori was offered an associate position at a well-respected insurance defense firm; Broening, Oberg, Woods & Wilson in Phoenix. She represented various insurance companies and their insureds. After five years, she made partner at the firm.

As her boys grew she learned that one of them had special needs. When they began their public education and special services were needed; this caused Lori to learn about and fight to get the special education her son needed. In 2006, Lori decided to use her new knowledge about special education law to help others. As she expanded her work into that field she discussed her interests with her sister, Hope Kirsch. The two decided to open up their own firm where they could dedicate more time to this area.  Lori practices special education law, higher education law, student discipline, and DDD Appeals.

In her more than 26 years of practice she gained vast experience in civil litigation. She has tried over 30 cases to verdict. Martindale-Hubbell has rated Lori AV®. She continues to represent insurance companies and their clients, and also advocating and litigating for special needs students. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

About special education attorney Hope Kirsch

Hope N. Kirsch, M.A.(Ed.), Esq.

Hope was born in Queens, New York. She has a B.S. cum laude in Special Education from Boston University (1975), M.A. (Ed.) in Special Education from New York University (1977) and earned over thirty post-graduate credits in educational supervision and administration before entering law school.

Hope was a special education teacher and school administrator for nearly 20 years in New York City. She was awarded a Dean's Merit Scholarship to attend Brooklyn Law School's evening division while continuing her work in special education. She earned her Juris Doctorate (1991) and was admitted to the State Bar of New York, the State Bar of New Jersey, the Federal District Court of New York for the Southern District and the Federal District Court in New York for the Eastern District, and the Federal District Court of New Jersey.

Hope began her legal career as a judicial law clerk in the Superior Court of New Jersey (Newark, Essex County). She then joined an insurance defense firm where she handled environmental claims, attorney malpractice and general liability in both New York and New Jersey. Hope was admitted to the Arizona State Bar in 1998 and moved to Arizona in 1999 where she joined an insurance defense firm. She is also admitted to the Federal District Court of Arizona and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Her practice focuses on education/special education law. She lives in Scottsdale with her husband Barry Kluger, and is an avid runner and skier. 

Post-secondary Transition Training

KGK's Lori Kirsch-Goodwin and Hope Kirsch will be presenting a nationally broadcast webinar on Post-Secondary Transition for students with special needs on July 13, 2016.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

AzMERIT scores

AzMERIT scores:

AzMERIT scores can indicate a Student’s overall progress or regression.  Students and parents should carefully compare scores from this year’s AzMERIT exam to last year’s exam and other standardized exams (i.e. AIMS).  If the scores have not improved or have dropped, this may be a sign that the student needs more special education services and supports in school, and perhaps another evaluation. You will have received the scores alrady.  Parents of children expected to enter 4th grade are also being told whether the child will be retained (held back). 
If your child is struggling and does not have a 504 Plan or an IEP, ask the school for an evaluation for special education and related services.  Put all requests in WRITING; email is fine.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Arizona Special Education Lawyers - From the Classroom to the Courtroom

If your child is having a problem at school and you are not sure where to turn, we can help. 

Are you sure the school is complying with the law to provide your child with the education to which he or she is entitled under both federal and state laws? We explain and advise you of the legal rights both you and your child have. We provide legal advice and strategy for you to advocate on your own, or we can provide legal representation of both you and your child. We can assist you as much or as little as you want or need. 

Our education lawyers are a mom of a young adult with special needs who navigated the special education system for over 12 years, and a former special education teacher and school administrator who taught special education, wrote hundreds of IEPs, attended hundreds of IEP meetings, and trained and supervised special education teachers. 

We are special education attorneys with backgrounds as litigation and trial lawyers. We know the federal and state laws and the rules and regulations; we know parents' legal rights and children's legal rights. We can provide the legal advice and strategy so you can act as a parent advocate for your child, or we can provide the legal representation for you and your child at IEP meetings, MDRs (Multidisciplinary Review hearings), REDs (Review of Existing Data meetings), METs (Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team meetings), transition meetings, and mediations. We can review your child's IEP and prepare you for your upcoming meetings. We have been advocating for students for over 10 years. Children are our first priority. 

Before We Were in the Courtroom, We Were in the Classroom

School districts, charter schools and private schools have attorneys advising them and protecting their interests. You and your child should have an education attorney on your side to protect you both, to advise you of your legal rights, and to assure you that your child is receiving the education to which he or she is entitled to under the federal and state statutes and regulations. Remember, BOTH you and your child have legal rights. As lawyers, not only do we have the legal knowledge and skills to represent you, but we also have personal experience in special education.

  • As the mother of a young adult with special needs, attorney Lori Kirsch-Goodwin has navigated the school system as a parent and as an attorney. She knows that all parents want to ensure that their children have the best possible future, and that sometimes they need someone in their corner. She has walked in your shoes.
  • Attorney Hope Kirsch has both her Bachelor's degree and her Master's degree in Special Education. She was a special education teacher and school administrator for nearly 20 years in NYC. She taught in self-contained classes, special education schools, day treatment programs and hospital schools. She obtained licenses and certifications in special education, special education supervision and school administration in New York, and Certification from the Arizona Department of Education to teach students with Emotional Disabilities, grades K-12. When she represents you and your child at a school meeting or hearing, no one from the school can tell her she doesn't know what it's like in the classroom -- SHE DOES! She knows the language schools speak and she knows what goes on behind the scenes. In addition to her B.S. and M.Ed. in Special Education, Hope completed extensive post-graduate work in school administration. She trained and supervised teachers in curriculum development, teaching strategies, methodology, behavior management and writing IEPs. She is nationally recognized in special education law, and is regularly invited to speak to and train parent groups, mental health professionals, school administrators and teachers, other attorneys and education advocates.
We Know How to Get Children the Education They Deserve
We can explain your legal rights and provide you with the legal advice and strategy to assure you that your child is receiving the education to which he or is she is entitled under the law. We will work with you as much or as little as you need. We can represent you or just advise you. We can provide you with the tools and resources you need to advocate for your child. We help you navigate the world of special education law. We have been there, and we have navigated the special education waters ourselves and for our clients. 

Whether your son or daughter attends school at a public school or charter school, we can help with legal advocacy and education law concerns and problems of all types, including:

  • IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
  • IEPs (Individualized Education Plans): writing, reviewing, consulting, attending IEP meetings
  • LRE (Least Restrictive Environment)
  • Identifying your child for special education and related services, or a 504
  • Evaluations: Obtaining all of the evaluations your child shouldhave, including obtaining IEEs (Independent Educational Evaluations)
  • Placement: Obtaining the appropriate placement along the continuum for your child, from full inclusion to RTC and hospital settings
  • Child Find law
  • Discipline (suspensions and expulsions)
  • Multidisciplinary Review meetings (MDRs)
  • Bullying
  • Severs personal injuries at school
  • Due process complaints
  • Due process hearings
  • Restraint and seclusion (including “SCREAM rooms” and “Cool Down rooms”)
  • 504 eligibility, 504 plans (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act)
  • Office of Civil Rights (OCR) complaints
  • Retaliation, disability harassment
  • Transition assessments and plans
  • Settlement Agreements
When your child's future is at stake, work with education attorneys who can support you and your child. Contact Our Experienced and Dedicated Arizona Education Attorneys.
For more information about how we can help your child, call our Arizona education law firm at 480-585-0600 or