Rep. DAVID BARIA and Rep. CECIL BROWN: Level the playing field for parents of children with special needs

In response to the outcry from parents of children with special needs, we have proposed creating an Office of Education Special Needs Counsel (HB 649) to provide legal representation to families securing special education services.

Oftentimes, parents go into meetings with the school board, school board attorneys and educators without the information they need to advocate successfully on behalf of their own children. Parents describe feeling overwhelmed by the process.

Parents told us they need legal advice to get the proper evaluations, services and resources that are available for their children. We have drafted legislation to solve the problem.

HB 649 creates three offices across the state: Northern, Central and Southern. Each office will be professionally staffed with attorneys who are experts in education law to help level the playing field. With the assistance of these attorneys, parents will have access to skills and knowledge that will assist them navigate the laws, regulations and processes governing the services and resources for their children with special needs.