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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August 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
CPS pulls plug on in-person school in the fall, opts for all remote learning

In the face of opposition from educators and parents, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) dropped its complicated hybrid plan, which would have had teachers in school four days a week and students two of those. But after several weeks of feedback and mounting pressure from teachers, the district announced students will start the new school year online.
According to a CPS survey, only 28 percent of elementary-school parents and 34 percent of high-school parents intended to send their children for in-person learning and the numbers were even lower for the Black and Latinx families who are the majority in CPS. READ MORE...

New York still planning for in-person school, but will it happen?

New York City is the only major U.S. school system still considering in-person classes this fall, after districts in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta and Houston opted to start the school year virtually. New York's governor has given the city the green light to reopen school buildings, but that doesn't mean it will happen.
"If the teachers don't come back, then you can't really open the schools," Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "If the parents don't send their students, then you're not really opening the schools." READ MORE...

Reopening schools in person? "There's no way it can be safe," says one school superintendent

An Arizona schools superintendent writes about his struggles with reopening schools this month. His governor is forcing schools to open Aug. 17 or lose funding. His small school district can't afford that. But, he's already lost staff to the coronavirus.
He's been sanitizing his school and taking all necessary precautions but he knows it's not enough. "There's no way it can be safe," he writes. "If you think anything else, I'm sorry, but it's a fantasy." READ MORE...

Districts seek protection from special ed lawsuits, but advocates want to ensure services even during a pandemic

School superintendents and school boards across the nation want congress to waive parts of federal special education law to protect them from lawsuits for failing to provide legally-mandated services during the pandemic.
While advocates acknowledge the challenges of remote learning, they worry a waiver would let school districts off the hook for their responsibility to educate all students--even those with disabilities--during the pandemic. And, so far, only a handful of lawsuits have been filed as a result of the spring school shutdowns. READ MORE...

Historic ADA still falling short for Black students

As the American with Disabilities Act turns 30, many are heralding the historic law's role in advancing the quality of life for people with disabilities, especially special education students. But those advancements have been uneven, with Blacks students seeing far fewer benefits from the law than whites.
"Systemic racism in one part of our society begets systemic racism in another, with the effects multiplying," the author of this essay writes. "We must be willing to acknowledge and dismantle the interconnected systems that keep Black people behind." READ MORE...

Reopening schools safely will cost money schools don't have. Who will pay for it?

While Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos hammer schools to reopen for in-person learning, they've been mum about who will pay for all the extra supplies, support staff and teachers needed to keep school communities safe.
"If officials really want US schools fully open and operational-and also reasonably safe-in the fall, they will need to put money where their mouths are," writes Peter Green. Otherwise, we're in for complete catastrophe. READ MORE...

Lawsuit challenging Fairfax County Public Schools' use of restraint and seclusion moves forward
A lawsuit alleging Fairfax County Public Schools' use of restraint and seclusion violates federal law is moving forward, after the judge hearing the case refused to dismiss it. The lawsuit alleges that children as young as five years old have been harmed by the improper use of physical restraints and seclusion in cell-like rooms.
The judge ruled the lawsuit could move forward under the Americans with Disabilities Act because the plaintiff's claims show discrimination, not just the failure to provide special ed services. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six students and several advocacy groups, including the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), of which Matt Cohen is a board member. READ MORE...

Israel presents cautionary tale for school reopenings in U.S.

By mid-May, the tough restrictions imposed by the Israeli government--far tougher than anything imposed in the United States--had all but stopped the spread of COVID-19. The entire country saw just 10 new cases. Then, it rushed to open schools.
In June, the virus surged, with 40 percent of new cases traced directly to schools. Of course, public health officials recommended against such a quick reopening. Sound familiar? READ MORE...

Trump, DeVos ignore CDC warning that fully reopened schools pose highest risk for virus spread
Did the Trump administration suppress Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warnings about reopening schools in person in the fall? Yes, says Randi Weingarten, president of the country's largest teachers union.
Weingarten says Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos betrayed students, teachers and parents by ignoring CDC warnings that fully reopened, in-person schools presented the "highest risk" of spreading the coronavirus. READ MORE...


Need we say more? Every election is important, but the stakes in November are gigantic. Along with electing a new president and congress, voters in Illinois have a historic opportunity to boost funding for our schools and other public services by approving the Fair Tax Amendment.
As President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting." has put together a helpful voting guide. Click on your state's link to find everything you need to know about the Nov. 3 election. READ MORE...

Recent Firm Successes
  • Secured placement at multi-sensory program for LD for student not previously diagnosed as LD.
  • Helped secure extension of placement in residential treatment center for student being discharged.
  • Secured partial funding for residential treatment placement in non-approved facility.
  • Secured partial funding for residential placement in non-approved school.
  • Successfully advocated that a student transitioning into middle school with executive functioning and emotional regulation challenges is taught in co-taught classes or has aide support
  • Worked with district to determine appropriate tools and schedule for progress monitoring a young boy with complex learning challenges.
  • Secured two years of placement at school district expense in specialized program for children with learning disabilities in reading, as well as ongoing placement at the parents' preferred public school for half the student's day.
Upcoming presentations

Matt Cohen
Writing Appropriate IEPs and 504 Plans
Learning Disability Association of Illinois
Oct. 3, 8:30 - 10:30 a.m.

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Office news and updates

Matt Cohen is once again a contributing author for the K and W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities, published by Penguin Random House. His article, "10 Things College Students with Disabilities Need to Know About their Rights," will appear in the 15th edition of the guide.

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 again has been selected by his peers as a 2020 Illinois Super Lawyer, a distinction he has held since 2007. Matt also has been selected as an Illinois Leading Lawyer for 2020The distinction of being a Leading Lawyer has been earned by fewer than 5 percent of all lawyers licensed to practice law in Illinois.

Brochures Available 
We offer several different brochures related 
to the following topics: 
  • Introduction to College Accommodations
  • 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.   
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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, disability 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 

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





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