The Child & Family Law Center
A Division of Grund & Leavitt P.C.
NEWSLETTER
Winter 2023
~ In this Issue ~

Special Education Issues:
Special Education Updates
Preparing for Your IEP Annual Review

Family Law:
Divorce and Special Needs Considerations Checklist:
Resources for Parents
School and Divorce FAQs

Announcement:
Micki Moran is co-teaching at Loyola Law School this Spring semester along with Jackie Ross, the Educational Advocacy Lab Class, which explores the intersection between racism, poverty, disability, mental health, gender, and juvenile justice through the lens of education law. Micki has been an adjunct faculty member at Loyola for a number of years, teaching classes in Special Education Law and Therapeutic Jurisprudence. 


SPECIAL EDUCATION UPDATES

On October 3, 2022, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case brought by Miguel Luna Perez, a 23-year-old deaf man who filed a lawsuit against his school district for compensatory damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This appears to be the first case brought by a former student on his own behalf. ( Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools Docket No. 21-887)

The lower courts dismissed Miguel Perezā€™ case because he ā€œfailed to exhaust his administrative remediesā€ although attempting to exhaust would be futile because compensatory damages are not available under the IDEA.

Stay tuned for the decision in this matter.

Perez v. Sturgis is also unusual because it re-opens the issue of exhaustion of administrative remedies before filing a lawsuit in federal court. The issue of exhaustion of administrative remedies in IDEA cases was the essence of the 2017 Supreme Court decision in the Fry v. Napolean case.
The oral argument in this case was held on January 18, 2023. www.scotusblog.com
Divorce and Special Needs Considerations Checklist: Resources for Parents

Divorce is difficult under the best of circumstances. When a family has a child with a disability this can make the divorce process more complex. Parents often feel that they donā€™t have a road map to navigate all the legal issues that arise. There are no one-size fits all solutions in any divorce, but there are unique issues that need to be addressed in a special needs divorce.

  • Parenting Time
  • School District Choice and Residency
  • Decision-Making
  • Child Support and Expenses /Post Majority Support
  • Child Care
  • Special Needs Trust and other Estate Planning
  • Tax considerations
  • Life Insurance for both parents with the trust as the beneficiary
  • Guardianship, Powers of Attorney and Other Decision -Making documents
  • Health Insurance

If you are contemplating divorce, or involved in post-divorce conflict or litigation and want to schedule a free consultation with Micki Moran or another one of our attorneys, call our office at (312)-640-0500. We offer in person consultation or video meetings for your convenience.
SCHOOL AND DIVORCE FAQ's

How does a school district determine residency
in a divorce?

Article 14 of the School Code directly addresses divorced or separated parents by stating that in cases of divorced or separated parents ...when both parents retain legal guardianship or custody, the resident district is the district in which either parent who provides the studentā€™s primary regular fixed night-time abode resides, provided that the election may be made only one time per school year. If the student is a special education student and the student spends more nights with one parent, the studentā€™s residency is the district in which that parent lives.

Tip: It is recommended that the Allocation Judgment/Parenting Plan designate a resident parent for school district purposes. That designation is simply for the purpose of school residency and does not impact decision making, parenting time or other parental rights.

Are both parents entitled to receive notices from the school and access
to the studentā€™s educational records?

If the school has been provided a copy of a parenting plan or other court order, the school must first consult the parenting plan or order to see if each parentā€™s right of access to educational records has been addressed. The School Code provides that absent a court order to the contrary, upon the request of either parent of a student whose parents are divorced, copies of report cards, along with other notices and records, must be furnished to both parents by the school.

Unless the District has actual notice of a court order or a notice of a parenting plan under the Ill. Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, indicating otherwise:

  • Divorced or separated parents/guardians with and without parental responsibility are both permitted to inspect and copy the studentā€™s school records. 750 ILCS 5/602.11.
  • The Building Principal shall send copies of the documents listed below to both divorced or separated parents/guardians at eitherā€™s request. 105 ILCS 5/10-21.8.
  • Academic progress reports or records
  • Emotional and physical health reports
  • Notice of school-initiated-parent-teacher-conferences
  • School calendar regarding the student
  • Notices about open-houses, graduations, and other major school-sponsored events including student-parent-guardian interaction.

This is consistent with other provisions of the IMDMA, which states that notwithstanding any other provision of law, access to records and information pertaining to a child including, but not limited to, medical, dental, child care, and school records shall not be denied to a parent for the reason that such parent has not been allocated parental responsibility; however, no parent shall have access to the school records of a child if the parent is prohibited by an order of protection from inspecting or obtaining such records pursuant to the Domestic Violence Act of 1986 or the Code of Criminal Procedure.

     Are both parents able to grant permission for a student to be excused from school (i.e.due to illness, religious observance, college visits etc.) participate in school-sponsored activities (i.e. field trips, athletics, extra-curricular activities etc. or for particular school services (i.e. medication administration, special education)?

If the school has been provided a copy of the parenting plan, then first consult the parenting plan to see if granting permissions has been allocated to one or both parents as a significant decision-making responsibility. The IMDMA defines significant issues to include without limitation:

  •  Education, including the choice of schools and tutors.
  • Health, including all decisions relating to the medical, dental, and psychological needs of the child and to the treatments arising or resulting from those needs.
  • Religion.
  • Extracurricular activities
Preparing for Your IEP Annual Review
 
The annual review occurs within one year of initial placement and yearly thereafter. The date of the annual review is noted on the studentā€™s IEP ( Individual Education Plan ). An IEP meeting can be requested at any time to determine if a change or modification is needed. The annual review can occur at any time during the school year, however, many districts choose to review the IEP in the spring. As a special education attorney who represents parents this can be a busy time of year as schools and parents assess what has worked for a student and what still needs to be addressed.

It is important for parents to prepare for IEP meetings in advance in order ensure that the annual review or other IEP meeting is productive. I am a fan of checklists. Every child is different so there may need to be some adjustment based on the individual circumstances but it helps to have something to use when navigating these often emotional and stressful meetings.

Click here for a copy of the IEP Checklist
Our office is dedicated to advocating for the best outcomes for children and families. Call (312)-640-9850 or email me at mmoran@grundlaw.com. Consultations for special education and family law issues are available in person or by Zoom. Safety protocols are followed.
The Child and Family Law Center: A Division of Grund & Leavitt
Micki Moran
The Child & Family Law Center of the North Shore
A Division of Grund & Leavitt, P.C.
600 Central Avenue, Suite 248
Highland Park, IL 60035
Phone 312-640-0500
Fax 847-681-1295
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