In This Issue
IEP Checkup!
School is in session - Time for an IEP Checkup!  Is your child's IEP giving them all they need? Does it have the right goals, objectives and evaluation procedures?  Do the services and accommodations provide all they are entitled to?  If you want an IEP Checkup, Click HERE

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April 2020 E-Newsletter


This E-newsletter is devoted to sharing information about special education, disability rights, mental health and human services law, policy and research that is of importance to people with disabilities, their families, and the professionals that work with them.

Information includes political issues, important research, legal developments, and information based on our experiences that we hope will help you personally in your individual and professional efforts.   It also provides updates and news about our firm and its activities.  We hope you find it helpful and welcome your comments and suggestions.  
                                                                   -Matt Cohen
Our firm is here for you during the pandemic

The Corona Crisis has rocked the country and caused disruption and difficulty for everyone. Similarly, the stay at home orders, though absolutely necessary, have gutted education for our kids. Kids with disabilities are especially vulnerable to all this disruption. Many kids with disabilities are more vulnerable to getting the virus, requiring even more care in relation to exposure to others.
To address these issues, Matt Cohen & Associates is putting in place the following new services:

Free brief IEP tune up/review 
Free 90 minute online or phone case consultation
Free parent online "Ask the Lawyer/Advocate" weekly call in forum
Weekly webinars on important special education issues
Ask the teacher

We also will be providing a variety of services to clinicians and offer many free brochures on a variety of topics. We are committed to seamlessly providing the service and support you depend on from us during this challenging time. READ MORE ABOUT OUR SERVICES 

What are your child's rights to appropriate special ed services while schools are closed

We have prepared a brief overview of your child's right to services while schools are closed, including things you can do to potentially access more services now and when regular school returns. We recognize the difficulties educators are facing, but we are here to help you ensure that your child is also getting as much support as possible in these difficult times. 
Remote learning tips for parents of special needs students

Confused about how to keep your student with disabilities on track while schools are closed? Wondering what online tools and resources might be available to help? 

Elizabeth Hooper, our firm's special education advocate, has prepared a tip sheep to answer those questions and more. Elizabeth is a former special education teacher who brings a broad set of skills to this work. READ OUR FACTSHEET 

Special ed parents worry students will be left behind during school closures

spec ed collage
As schools scramble to institute remote learning, parents worry their children with disabilities will be left behind. Students who receive one-on-one support or related services can't receive them at home, meaning parents have to fill in the gaps.
"I know how it feels to be a parent and a student that got left behind, and I don't want that for anyone else," says one parent. READ MORE

Parents worry DeVos may use federal stimulus bill authority to waive IDEA requirements

Buried in the $2 trillio n federal  stimulus bill is a provision that allows U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to seek a waiver of special education requirements for school districts impacted by the current pandemic.
The provision has created a rift between parents, who worry their children will be left behind, and school districts worried about liability if they cannot provide legally required services during the public health crisis. READ MORE

TAKE ACTION: Don't let COVID-19 gut special education services

Please contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives and ask them to oppose ANY special education waivers. The Council of Parent Advocates and Attorneys (COPAA) has issued a statement in opposition with a link for you to find contact info for your elected officials. Please email your senator and congress person today.  READ MORE

TAKE ACTION: Demand free Internet for low-income families so children can "attend" school

As schools across the nation move to online learning because of Covid-19, 12 million students lack access to the Internet. That means these students, mostly from low-income families, are missing out on valuable instruction days.
National and local groups are calling on Internet providers to offer free Internet service to low-income families, even if they have outstanding debts or poor credit histories. Students cannot get the public education they are entitled to during this pandemic without it. SIGN A PETITION TO THE FCC and SIGN A PETITION TO COMCAST

COVID-19 Resources for the Disability Community

Our friends at Access Living have assembled an online Covid-19 resource page for individuals with disabilities. It contains many excellent resources for the disability community. 

Check it out. READ MORE

Enrichment vs. learning for students with disabilities

With school districts moving to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools are only providing "enrichment" activities, leading to concerns about whether these programs can provide services to special ed students. 

The U.S. Department of Education says they can and should. READ MORE and READ THE FACTSHEET
Advocates challenge illegal disability discrimination in Alabama COVID-19 treatment protocols

Disability rights advocates are challenging an Alabama plan that directs hospitals to withhold ventilators from COVID-19 patients with certain intellectual or cognitive disabilities. 

The groups have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights, alleging the rule violates federal disability rights laws. READ MORE

What the federal coronavirus stimulus bill means for schools and special education

States will receive $13.5 billion in new money, to be allocated based on current Title I funding, meaning schools that serve high-poverty populations will get a larger share of the funds. The money can be used for cleaning and sanitizing schools, remote learning technology and programs to support low-income students, English language learners and students with disabilities. READ MORE

New York City bans Zoom in wake of hacking and privacy concerns

New York City's education department has banned the use of Zoom for remote learning, after nationwide reports of hacking, and other school districts might follow suit.
Hackers have invaded online classroom meetings and school board meetings, posting pornographic, racist and offensive content and images. Schools also have concerns about the platform's privacy and data sharing protocols, after hundreds of Zoom meetings were posted publicly online. READ MORE

Illinois reverses ban on face down floor restraints just five months after implementing the reforms

In response to an investigation documenting widespread abuse in the use of restraints and isolation rooms at Illinois schools, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) in November banned the use of face down, or prone, floor restraints of students. But last week, the state reversed that decision.
The reversal came after several private schools waged an intensive lobbying campaign of state officials. ISBE says the new rules, which provide more protections for students than the prior law, are temporary and will be reworked by July 2021. READ MORE

Recent Firm Successes
  • Secured therapeutic day school for girl with learning disabilities.
  • Worked with school team to secure additional Social Work minutes with an improved service delivery model.
  • Successfully advocated for a change to a research-based, multi-sensory, sequential reading curriculum.
  • Teamed with school staff to strengthen and broaden the goals, services, expectations, home/school communication and progress monitoring for a Kindergarten student with multiple disabilities.
  • Assisted family to secure IDEA eligibility and funding for therapeutic residential program for student that previously only had a 504 plan.
  • Secured IDEA eligibility and substantial supports in regular ed based program for child with RAD and trauma issues.
  • Secured eligibility for special education instruction and services for student with significant physical impairments and resulting effects on ability to focus in school.
  • Secured private therapeutic day program for child with Anxiety Disorder.
  • Secured reinstatement and compensatory social work services after therapist arbitrarily terminated services.
  • Secured funding and tutoring for private non-special ed school.
MCA updated logo
Office news and updates

Matt Cohen & Associates has been selected the Best Local Business for the 2020 Best of Chicago Awards. The award recognizes the firm's commitment to community service.

Matt Cohen also has been selected  as an Illinois Leading Lawyer for 2020.  The distinction of being a Leading Lawyer has been earned by fewer than 5 percent of all lawyers licensed to practice law in Illinois.

Upcoming free webinars
April 14 
Parents' Rights During School Closings
Matt Cohen

April 21 
Special Education Advocacy 101 
Matt Cohen

April 28 
Talk to the Teacher: Practical suggestions for meeting your child's special education needs at home 
Elizabeth Hooper

May 5  
Child Find and Evaluations: What to include in a request for school evaluations and tips for making private evaluations and reports as useful as possible
Brad Dembs

Check our website,, for details on how to sign up. 

Brochures Available 
We offer several different brochures related 
to the following topics: 
  • IEPs and 504 Plans - Navigating the Maze
  • Tips for Obtaining Accommodations for the ACT, SAT and other Placement Exams
  • Obtaining an Independent Educational Evaluation
  • Tips for Obtaining Appropriate Services for Your Child With Autism
  • Classroom Observation
To request multiple copies for your clients, 
please call us at 866-787-9270.   
Matt Cohen is the founder of the Chicago law firm Matt Cohen & Associates LLC.  

The practice is concentrated in representation of children and families in special education and discipline disputes with public schools, di sability rights advocacy, including advocacy for accommodations in admissions and licensing tests and in colleges and graduate schools and legal assistance to mental health and human services professionals and the organizations they work for. 

For more information about Matt Cohen and the staff and to view this email in your browser, please visit our  website.
If you have any questions, please contact his assistant, Tami Kuipers at 866-787-9270  or [email protected]

book cover

   A Guide to Special Education Advocacy -
  What Parents, Clinicians and Advocates Need to Know
   written by Matt Cohen
   published in 2009


    $20 plus $4.95 shipping 

    to order, call Tami at


    or [email protected]  



The material in this enews has been prepared by Matt Cohen & staff for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.  We assume no responsibility for the accuracy or timeliness of any information provided herein. Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. 


We would be pleased to communicate with you via email.  However, if you communicate with us through the Web site regarding a matter for which we do not already represent you, your communication may not be treated as privileged and confidential.  Do not send us confidential, proprietary or other sensitive information until you speak with one of our attorneys and receive authorization to send that information.  Matt Cohen is providing this enews, the information, listings, and links contained herein only as a convenience to you.