Helpful Hints for Parents

Creating a timeline for your child’s education history is easily done in a Word document, the Notes app in your phone, or in a notebook. Create sections for each school year and include in each section important dates and events (PPT meetings, evaluations, “incidents,” etc.)  This timeline will help you organize your thoughts, ensure you don’t forget anything important, and assist in interacting with any professionals during the course of your child’s journey.

  • Purchase one 3-ring binder (1.5 inch-2 inches) for each school year and a corresponding number of subject dividers.  
  • Sort your documents into groups according to type: IEPs, evaluations, prior written notice, report cards & progress reports, etc.
  • Within each group, organize the documents so that the most recent is on top and the oldest is on the bottom.  
  • Punch holes in each of the documents with a 3-hole punch (you can usually borrow one from a library).  
  • Place each group of documents in the binder with a corresponding subject divider.  Label the subject divider according to the type of documents in that section (IEPs etc).

Scan your most recent documents (IEP, evaluation, progress report) in PDF form so you may send them without delay directly to any member of your child’s team.  Free smartphone apps like Turboscan or CamScanner allow you to scan documents with multiple pages.  You may also request PDF copies of your documents from your school team, and libraries often have copy machines with scanning capabilities.  

Do you want someone who is more aggressive, or someone more soft spoken? Both kinds of attorneys can be equally successful. Do you like emails, or do you prefer to speak on the phone?  

Although sometimes it may seem cost prohibitive to consult with more than one attorney, getting different perspectives is very important in the hiring process.

Trust your instinct! You will have to spend a lot of stressful time talking to this person so keep that in mind.

Attorneys should respond to your calls during a timely manner, but as a client you should also be considerate of their time. Be organized & polite. There is almost no reason to call an attorney on a weekend unless you are in the midst of a contentious due process hearing.  And don’t forget that schools don’t work after 4 or on the weekends either.

The attorney’s job is to provide you with a fair and unbiased assessment of your case. They cannot do that if you are not completely honest with them.  

You have a duty to yourself and your child to listen to what your attorney has to say.  You might not agree and you might not like what they have to say, but they are assessing the case, the players, the timeline, and the likelihood of resolution and they are the experts in those areas.    


Research the attorney online.  Look for blogs they have written, legal decisions, webinars & podcasts they’ve appeared in.  

  • Prepare a special education timeline of your child’s journey. 
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask the attorney.

Organize & prioritize your child’s special education documents into a binder.

  1. Background. Why did you enter special education & disability rights law?
  2. What kind of relationship do you have with my school district & the attorneys who represent my school?
  3. Do you have experience with students that have a similar learning profile to mine? (autism, dyslexia, anxiety, etc)
  4. Can you provide me with an estimate of how many hours you believe this case will take to resolve?

Ready to get started?

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