Reger Rizzo & Darnall’s Special Education Group believes that education is the foundation for a child’s future. While this philosophy may sound simple enough, navigating the myriad of state and federal laws that regulate the special education landscape can make providing these services anything but. To successfully navigate these demands, school districts must be able to rely on competent, sound legal counsel who understand the complex and ever-changing rules and regulations associated with providing special education programs and services. That is where we come in.
Reger Rizzo & Darnall’s Special Education attorneys respond to inquiries and counsel schools on a wide range of daily issues. Our attorneys work closely with school districts, as well as administrative personnel, teachers, staff, and third-party vendors, to implement preventive strategies in order minimize exposure to legal risk and potential liabilities. However, in situations where litigation is inevitable, our full-service firm, including seasoned trial attorneys, stands ready to represent schools and related institutions in administrative, judicial, due process and other legal proceedings, as well as arbitration and mediation sessions.
Our attorneys represent private and public schools systems, colleges and universities, non-profit organizations and charter schools in matters related to:
- Qualifications for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- Student discipline issues
- Individualized Education Programs (IEP) and Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE)
- Child protection and safe environment programs
- Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests
- Teacher-related issues, including teacher termination hearings, defense of teacher abuse and Child Victim Act (CVA) claims, and employee discipline and discharge proceedings in accordance with the requirements of applicable state and federal laws
- Creating and changing a child’s special education program
- Working with parental requests for a child’s placement in private school
We also proactively provide in-house training programs to all school district employees so that our clients can stay abreast of changes in the law and keep current on education-related legal requirements in order to avoid potential legal problems before they occur.
Compliance Officer Services
For organizations providing behavioral health and rehabilitation services including autism spectrum disorder and other developmental delays, our attorneys provide consulting services on compliance to ensure all providers meet regulations under Medicare and Medicaid. The compliance services include training of staff to recognize fraud, waste and abuse, and development of the organization’s compliance plan as well as evaluating the implementation of said plan.
Support for Families
At Reger Rizzo & Darnall, we also believe that every child, no matter their ability, or disability, deserves the same opportunity to receive a quality education. We have seen first-hand how overwhelming it can be for families to understand the rules and regulations governing the special education school system. That is why we also assist families by providing legal insight and sound guidance regarding a child’s rights.
Our team of Special Education attorneys represents children and their families in a wide range of education and special education law matters throughout the MidAtlantic Region. We incorporate real world experiences into our legal practice, and not only provide sound legal advice, but also guidance and counsel to families as they navigate the complex and continually changing special education landscape. Our Team routinely assists families of children with special needs in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland.
Planning For Your Child
Reger Rizzo & Darnall’s team of Estates & Trusts attorneys work closely with the Firm’s Special Education Group to support families when children are about to reach the age of maturity and are recognized as adults. Guardianships tailored to your family’s needs will provide legal options for parents to stay involved in decision making on medical care, finances, education and other important matters and still maintain the child’s independence in other areas of living a full and productive life. Parents also have the opportunity to consult with the attorneys in the Estates & Trusts Department regarding their own estate planning needs and goals, and the various options available for establishing a Special Needs Trust, so that parents can leave a legacy to financially assist their child without the fear of disrupting any governmental benefits the child may receive now or in the future.
Reger Rizzo & Darnall’s Special Education Team is led by Linell Lukesh of our Philadelphia Office and Megan Halter of our West Chester, PA Office. Ms. Lukesh previously served as a federal projects officer in the United States Department of Health & Human Services where she concentrated on evaluating program services to disabled and low-income children and families including IEP evaluations and providing compliance audits on performance, management and fiscal departments for Head Start programs in a five-state area. Ms. Lukesh also established and oversaw the administration of Head Start, a federally-funded non-profit organization, in Luzerne and Wyoming Counties in Pennsylvania. Ms. Halter has a particular interest in special education law, as the mother of a child affected by Autism. Ms. Halter incorporates her personal experiences into her practice and is dedicated to working with school districts to provide the highest level of services possible to children with special needs.
Additionally, our Special Education Team works closely with members of the Firm’s Estates & Trusts Group to provide comprehensive services and support to families of children with special needs. Members of our Estates & Trusts Team, including Joel Luber, Rick Marmon, Kathy DeLacy and George D’Ambrosio have extensive experience representing children and their families throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Our attorneys stand ready to assist you with any questions you may have in this arena. We believe it is important for individuals to have counsel who has a clear understanding of the client’s situation, priorities and objectives.
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