St. Louis Education Law Practice in Missouri & Illinois
Education law is governed by state and federal statutes and agencies responsible for its administration. The U.S Department of Education is the executive department of the federal government responsible for advising on educational plans and policies and administration of the department, which provides assistance for education and carries out educational research. Parents and their children are entitled to certain rights under a variety of federal and state laws. We have handled every aspect of school law and special education. We exclusively represent either parents or organizations serving children or adults with disabilities and including these areas as well.
Our attorneys have experience representing individuals with disabilities and corporations that serve people with disabilities in a wide range of matters, including but not limited to:
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that ensures children with disabilities receive the special education and related services they need. IDEA requires that every child with a recognized disability receives a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) that is tailored to the child’s individual needs. Another core principle of IDEA is that every student with a disability should be educated in their least restrictive educational environment (LRE). This means a student cannot be placed in a segregated classroom setting solely because the student is disabled. Rather, a student who has a disability should be educated with non-disabled peers to the greatest extent that is appropriate.
IDEA requires public schools to evaluate children with suspected disabilities at no cost to the parents. If the evaluation report determines a child has a recognized disability and is in need of special education services, then the school district must draft and implement an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP is a formal contract outlining the special education services and support the school will provide in order for the child to benefit from the educational program. An IEP must be implemented before a student can begin receiving special education services and it must be reviewed and updated each year.
IDEA also outlines specific procedural safeguards to help parents advocate for their child’s educational well-being. IDEA requires public schools to allow parents to participate in all meetings concerning their child, examine their child’s school records, request an independent evaluation and agree or disagree with placement decisions. IDEA also require school district give sufficient notice to parents regarding all meetings concerning their child as well as any proposed amendments to the IEP or placement decisions.
IDEA is a complex law that can be difficult to navigate alone. The Law Offices of Thomas E. Kennedy III can assist you in understanding the procedural process, evaluating the school district’s conduct and pursuing any necessary legal action. When a school district fails to conduct a satisfactory evaluation, we assist parents in securing an independent evaluation and seeking reimbursement for the cost. We also counsel parents on developing an appropriate and enforceable IEP. If a dispute arises with your school district, the Law Offices of Thomas E. Kennedy III has the experience necessary to aggressively pursue due process litigation through the hearing procedures outlined by IDEA.
Section 504: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal statute that provides certain rights to individuals with disabilities. Section 504 prohibits all recipients of federal funding from discriminating on the basis of a person’s disability. This includes all public schools from early childhood programs through college-level institutions. Section 504 also applies to any private school or university that receives federal funding.
Section 504 applies to any student with a disability. Some students with disabilities require a 504 Plan to accommodate their disability. A 504 Plan can include special education and related services and can outline specific accommodations required by the student. Sometimes schools improperly refuse to provide a student with a disability with a 504 Plan, or, a student may have a 504 Plan in place that the school fails follow appropriately.
If you believe your child is not receiving appropriate services under Section 504 or if you are a student who believes you are entitled to accommodations under Section 504, contact the Law Offices of Thomas E. Kennedy III for an evaluation of your claim.
Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex at educational institutions that receive federal funds, which includes all public schools and some private schools and universities. Specifically, Title IX protects victims of on-campus gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. Title IX claims can also arise if the discrimination, harassment or assault occurred off campus if there is a sufficient connection to an educational program or activity. These protections apply to all students and employees whether they are male, female, or gender-nonconforming.
Under Title IX, schools have a legal duty to proactively prevent illegal gender-based conduct. Schools must also implement reporting procedures for gender-based harassment, discrimination, and violence and provide accommodations to victims of discrimination. Title IX also prohibits schools from retaliating against a student for exercising their rights protected by Title IX.
If you believe your child has a Title IX claim or you are a student seeking to invoke your rights under Title IX, contact the Law Offices of Thomas E. Kennedy III for assistance.
School Discipline: Students facing discipline – such as suspension and expulsion – have rights, including the right to a written explanation for the suspension or expulsion, a right to present their side of the story and the right to a hearing before an impartial hearing officer or the school board. Students are entitled to an attorney at their expulsion hearings. Students with disabilities, even those without an IEP or 504 Plan, are granted additional protections against school discipline. Students enrolled in college or university also face disciplinary issues such as placement on academic probation, accusations of a conduct violations or plagiarism, or disputes with the school about enrollment status. Our office is experienced in handling school discipline matters occurring at all levels of the education process.
If your child is facing discipline at school or discipline proceedings have been initiated against you, contact the Law Offices of Thomas E. Kennedy III.
Testing Accommodation: Students with disabilities have the legal right to receive testing accommodations, but sometimes these accommodations are denied by school districts, colleges/universities or private testing agencies.
Our attorneys have experience with cases involving students with disabilities that have been denied accommodations on tests. Contact the Law Offices of Thomas E. Kennedy III for assistance.
Bullying and Harassment: Unfortunately, bullying is a part of many school environments. When a student is bullied to the point at which their well-being and education are at risk, it is the school’s responsibility to provide measures to protect and aid the student. More specifically, when students are bullied on account of a disability, Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) guarantees that these students will receive the help they need.
If your child has been bullied, and/or their FAPE rights have been violated, the Law Offices of Thomas E. Kennedy III can help.