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

Join Our Mailing List




Contact Us


About Us
To find out more about Matt Cohen & Associates, our staff, and the services we provide, click here.
Matt Cohen CHADD Membership Support Fund 
MCA updated logo
February 2021 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

Upcoming webinars

MCA is pleased to announce the restarting of our free Webinar and Ask the Lawyer series, with multiple presentations scheduled every month through May, including a variety of new topics, guest speakers to be announced soon for some topics and continued updating of important topics we have covered before. Matt Cohen will be available for "Ask the Lawyer" discussions on special education topics twice monthly and webinars will be offered on alternating weeks.  

Ask the Lawyer 
Feb. 17, 4 p.m. Register in advance.
March 10, 4 p.m. Register in advance.
March 24, 4 p.m. Register in advance.

FAPE, Remote Learning and the Return to School - What to do if it's not working?  
Matt Cohen
Feb. 23, 4 p.m.
This session will look at the right to appropriate education for kids with disabilities during remote learning, what happens after they return to school, and how to advocate for improved services now and after return.

Key Items in an IEP
Brad Dembs
March 2, 4 p.m.
Learn the key components of an IEP, what is required under the law, and strategies to employ before, during and after IEP meetings to ensure that the plan that is developed meets your child's needs. Register in advance.

After registering in advance, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinars. Please refer to our website and our Facebook page for more information.

For information on additional webinar topics and Ask the Lawyer dates, scroll to the end of this newsletter where additional topics and dates are listed

Return to school advocacy tips

Parents of students with disabilities have a lot to consider as they anticipate a return to in-person instruction. We've prepared some advocacy tips to help you navigate the process. Read our factsheet. READ MORE. 

COVID vaccinations available now to home health caregivers and aides

Family members providing healthcare as a home aide/caregiver of a person with disabilities are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in group 1a. For guidance, consult the Illinois Department of Human Services, your county health department's websites, and your personal healthcare or hospital system to find vaccine availability. READ MORE.

Principals, teachers, parents worry CPS' in-person school will be no better - and maybe worse - than remote learning

While Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is pushing to reopen schools for in-person instruction, little attention is being paid to the quality of instruction schools would be able to provide. Teachers, principals and parents who've reviewed the district's plan worry students will essentially be doing remote learning, on a computer, in a school building, with more restrictions than they have at home and less time with their teacher. 

Concerns about staffing, internet capabilities in schools, and reduced learning time are worrying principals. "It is an impossible task on the same level of making time go backwards," said one principal. READ MORE

U.S. Department of Education investigating school districts for pandemic special ed failures 

The Department of Education's Office of Civil rights is investigating whether school districts in four states have violated federal law by failing to provide students with disabilities "a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic." Districts or agencies under review include the Indiana Department of Education, Seattle Public Schools, Los Angeles Unified School District and the Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. 

Despite the challenges of providing services during the pandemic, the Education Department has reaffirmed that schools must continue to fulfil their legal obligations to students with disabilities required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. READ MORE.

Illinois lawmakers fail to pass bill banning seclusion and restraint rooms

Despite bi-partisan support and a year-long campaign to ban seclusion and restraint practices, the Illinois legislature failed to get it done before the new General Assembly took its seat in January. 

The bill sailed through the state senate and was expected to pass easily in the house. But last-minute maneuvering by some private schools - and a legislative session cut short by the pandemic - scuttled plans to call the bill for a vote. "Once again, Illinois has failed its children," says one advocate. The bill's sponsors plan to introduce it again in February. READ MORE

Lawmakers took up the legislation in the wake of last year's ProPublica/Chicago Tribune investigation into abusive restraint and seclusion in school districts across the state. The Tribune's editorial board urged the legislature to make the bill a top priority during the current legislative session, underway now. READ MORE

Elmhurst school district details COVID learning loss 

A report from Elmhurst School District 205 warns that students in the early grades have suffered "clear COVID learning loss" during the pandemic, with the biggest impact seen in kindergarten through second grades, where performance in reading and other English language arts declined. 

The district said that while national policy organizations had predicted dire, long-term consequences from the lack of in-person instruction, most estimates now suggest learning loss was less than predicted. READ MORE.

Miguel Cardona easily wins senate confirmation as Education Secretary

Despite the heated battles over school reopening in many locales, like Chicago, Miguel Cardona, President Biden's nominee for Education Secretary, sidestepped the thorny issue and other contentious debates to win confirmation in the U.S. Senate. 

Cardona pledged to do everything in his power to reopen schools to in-person instruction, but with a big caveat."If we really want to recover," he said, "we really need to invest now or we're gonna pay later." READ MORE.

Recent Firm Successes
  • Coached family to successfully advocate for an initial IEP. 
  • Obtained district funding for private therapeutic day school placement, mileage reimbursement, and reimbursement for private neuropsychological evaluation for 8th grade student with learning disabilities, ADHD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
  • Obtained district funding for private therapeutic day school, transportation for 7th grade student with learning disabilities and ADHD.
  • Obtained funding for compensatory services for three different students aging out of the school system for denial of FAPE before and during Remote Learning.   
Upcoming Webinars and Presentations

Ask the Lawyer
April 14, 4 p.m. Register in advance.
April 28, 4 p.m. Register in advance.
May 12, 4 p.m. Register in advance
June 2, 4 p.m. Register in advance
June 16, 4 p.m. Register in advance.
June 30, 4 p.m. Register in advance

Compensatory Education - How to Position Yourself
Matt Cohen and Brad Dembs
March 23, 4 p.m.
We will discuss the legal standards for measuring and proving the need for compensatory education, as well as strategies for how to document any regression or stagnation of skills. This is particularly significant for parents to know and be able to recognize now if their children are participating in remote learning. Register in advance

Upcoming Presentations

Matt Cohen and William Hrabe, Equip for Equality
Compensatory Education and Class Complaints: Identifying and Delivering Appropriate Remedies Following District-Wide Denial of Services
Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) Virtual Summit
March 4 - 6
Register in advance.
Matt Cohen 
ARC of Illinois 71st Annual Conference -- Virtual
Lessons Learned with COVID
April 22, 2:30 - 3:30 p.m.

Matt Cohen (With Andy Faust and Jessica Varn)
Lehigh University Special Education Law Conference
You Be the Judge--Mock Special Education Due Process Hearing
June 21, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. Eastern Time

MCA updated logo
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 2021 Illinois Super Lawyer, a distinction he has held since 2007. Matt also has been selected as an Illinois Leading Lawyer for 2021The 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.   

MCA updated logo


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

    866-787-9270 or 



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.