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DISCLAIMER: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Contacting Attorney Melanie Dunn or the law firm of Special Education M.A.P. does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information until an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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Well, maybe not anything ... but let's start with some

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why do I need to fill out a 20+ page questionnaire before I can talk to an attorney?

A: First let me say that I went through a lot of iterations of the title of my Parent Questionnaire. "New Case Intake Form" seemed too clinical, and not all that accurate, since the purpose is to prep me before I get to know you in person or over the phone. "Potential Client Survey" sounded too focused on getting fees, and not on the client experience. I finally went with "Parent Questionnaire" because that's what it is: a questionnaire that highlights all of the details about your efforts as a parent of a student with special needs, so that I can know from the start what your pain points are. While it seems like a lot of work to do upfront, especially if you're still deciding whether you want to move forward with a service package, I think you'll find that the exercise of completing the questionnaire actually helps you frame your ideas of how you can best improve your child's current program. Sometimes you know what the problem is, but you don't quite know how to articulate it until someone else forces you to put it down in writing. Think of the Parent Questionnaire as an hour-long conversation with a trusted advisor over coffee or tea. Even though I won't be reading your responses until you email the form back to me, I hope the conversational tone of the questions allows you to feel comfortable in telling me your child's story, and your own story as your child's best advocate.

Q: What if I complete my Strategy Session and then need an IEP Roadmap later on? Will I be charged an additional fee?

A: The beauty of tiered legal services is that you pay a relatively small fee for highly individualized advice that is applicable to your current situation. While some factors in a child's education remain constant, others are subject to significant change within a short period of time. If you move forward with my advice following a Strategy Session, and a new issue crops up, I will likely recommend that you utilize the IEP Roadmap service, which allows me to give you a more comprehensive analysis of your case. In some cases, typically those involving a longer passage of time (say 6 months rather than 6 weeks), it may be more appropriate for you to obtain a new Strategy Session.

If there are many complicated issues in your child's educational program, I will usually recommend skipping the Strategy Session in favor of the IEP Roadmap. If the IEP Roadmap does not lead to a favorable resolution of your concerns with your child's program, we can discuss whether you're ready for the 360 Due Process Prep.

Q: What about Due Process Hearings? Do you ever move forward with filing hearing requests on behalf of existing or new clients?

A: Let's put it this way: because of the enormous cost and time suck, working on a due process matter -- even the procedural stuff leading up to the actual commencement of the hearing itself -- is usually unproductive for my clients, due to the advocacy-focused nature of the kinds of cases I tend to take on. That doesn't mean I wouldn't handle the right case if it came along. But it has to be right for both myself and the parent, who is spending an incredible amount of emotional and physical energy, not to mention money, in order to compel their local school district to simply comply with the FAPE requirements of the IDEA. I won't take on such a case unless I am convinced that moving forward with the request for due process is a better strategy than any other available option. And because I work alone (although with a good deal of support from my fellow attorneys and advocates in this community), I need to be sure I can devote myself completely to your due process matter before agreeing to handle it for you.

Q: Do you work with any other attorneys, advocates, or educational consultants?

A: This is an amazing community, and I'm happy to have forged great relationships with many highly skilled and supportive professionals in the world of special education. I am glad to refer parents to these individuals if appropriate, including to other attorneys in this practice area if it seems like a parent's situation requires something different from the specific service packages I offer. I am also Of Counsel to the Feinstein Education Law Group, LLC.

I will update this page as new questions arise, and I am also working on a Resources section that I hope will be actually useful to parents, and not just a list of boring links! Please check back for updates, or submit your email via the contact form to join my mailing list.