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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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March 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
Tips for parents dealing with Coronavirus and children with disabilities

As the first school closings associated with Covid-19 hit the Chicagoland area, parents of children with disabilities may be wondering what, if any, special protocols should be taken to protect their children. 

Should we be more concerned about students with disabilities than with typical kids? What should we be paying attention to and what steps can we take to best help our students and children? Matt Cohen and Associates share their thoughts on this topic.  READ MORE

CPS  agrees to universal compensation for special ed students who were denied services
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has agreed to provide automatic minimum remedies to compensate some 7,000+ special ed students who were illegally denied services from 2016 - 2018. The Special Ed Advocacy Coalition of Chicago, which Matt Cohen and Associates is a member of, has been fighting for these remedies for more than two years. But until recently CPS refused, taking the position that each family would need to prove that their child was a member of the class of students that was affected and that they were injured as a result of the delay or denial of services ranging from transportation to LD eligibility to provision of a 1-1 aide. There are many more students that may be eligible for remedies but will not be given compensatory services automatically.
Parents will have the right to seek more than the minimum remedies offered and will retain their right to appeal those decisions. But this is a huge step forward toward addressing the harm CPS inflicted on students when it slashed special ed services in 2016. READ MORE

Honoring education reporter Sarah Karp for her groundbreaking reporting on CPS special education

The Special Education Advocacy Coalition of Chicago honored WBEZ education reporter Sarah Karp for her indispensable work in investigating CPS malfeasance and helping to hold the district accountable for the harm it has caused special education students and families. We also celebrated our successes in the two-year campaign to win compensatory ed for the children who suffered the most and to address continuing and problems with CPS. WATCH A VIDEO of the ceremony here.

Illinois begins investigating schools charged with improper use of seclusion and isolation

In the wake of a Pro-Publica/Chicago Tribune investigation into the improper use of isolation rooms and seclusion in Illinois schools, state investigators have begun examining the use of the controversial practice. Their initial investigation found six of the eight districts examined were placing children in seclusion for improper reasons, for too long or without parental notification.
The state review is the first to be conducted following the media expose and new laws enacted to protect students, but some parents feel it is not going far enough. READ MORE 

Private schools reap benefits of taxpayer funding with little oversight

Nearly 30 states, including Illinois, have various government-funded programs that support private school tuition with vouchers or tax credits. But a recent survey finds that government oversight and accountability of these schools is thin.
Only six states require private schools to admit students regardless of religion and only three require schools to disregard a student's sexual orientation. The regulation of private schools, especially those receiving public funds, is in stark contrast to the strict regulation and governance of public schools. READ MORE

TAKE ACTION: Support charter school accountability and transparency

Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib has introduced the Charter Oversight, Accountability, and Transparency (COAT) Act, which will hold charter schools to the same kind of transparency and accountability that public schools are held to.

The bill is a response to revelations that the U.S. Department of Education exerts little oversight of charter school funding and a half a billion of taxpayer dollars already has been wasted on charter schools that never opened or closed shortly after opening. READ MORE and   TAKE ACTION.

Opt out: Free toolkit on refusing standardized tests

Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NLRB) two decades ago, standardized testing and the nearly $2 billion industry that profits from it has exploded. And the overuse and misuse of standardized testing has harmed students, teachers and schools.
Parents have the right to refuse tests for their students, but many don't understand those rights. Illinois Families for Public Schools has prepared a free, online tool kit to explain the testing regime in Illinois and provide information about opting out of objectionable tests. READ MORE

Why earning straight "As" might not mean as much as you think
Students are told that getting good grades is important for their future and parents trust teacher grades more than they trust standardized test scores. But a new study calls into question the validity of that belief, finds huge variations in grading and grade inflation and suggests racial and economic inequities could be at play.
The study, conducted by the Fordham Institute, found that the same grade can mean very different things depending on a student's race, with Black students who earn A's only as well prepared as white students earning C's. READ MORE

"She's fine," say police, but a Florida law allowed a six-year old girl to be sent to a mental hospital nonetheless

A six-year old Florida girl, deemed "out of control," was taken into police custody and transferred to a psychiatric hospital all without her mother's consent. But the police officers who arrested her were confused. "She's fine," they agreed, concluding that school just didn't know how to deal with the girl's behavior.
Nonetheless, she moved through the system under a controversial Florida law that allows police, school counselors and medical personnel to petition for someone perceived to be a danger to be institutionalized for 72 hours. READ MORE

Recent Firm Successes
  • 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.
  • Secured eligibility for student with PTSD and drug problems.
  • Secured withdrawal of recommendation for expulsion and exclusion from school, transfer to new school and expedited evaluations for 7 year twins with multiple suspected disabilities.
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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 presentations
Brad Dembs
Developmental Difference Resource Fair 2020
March 29, 9 a.m. -1:30 p.m.
UIC Student Center East
750 Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60607
Sponsored by the Neighborhood Parents Network. For more information, visit

Matt Cohen
Tourette Connect Chicagoland
April 18, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
1150 Willow Road
Northbrook, Illinois 60062
Sponsored by Tourette Association of America
For more information, visit
Matt Cohen and Brad Dembs
How to Ensure School Districts Provide Appropriate Transition Services to Students with Disabilities
The Arc of Illinois
April 22, 4 - 5:30 p.m.
Lisle Doubletree
3003 Corporate W Dr.
Lisle, IL 60532
Matt Cohen
Keynote speaker
Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois Annual Conference
October 30. Details to come.

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 

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





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. 


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