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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MCA updated logo

August 2019 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 special education budget continues to deny compensatory services

According to a detailed analysis of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) budget, the district continues to shortchange students who should be receiving compensatory services as a result of a state probe and subsequent quasi-takeover of the CPS special ed program. 

The analysis, conducted by Access Living, says CPS has failed to allocate any funds to the compensatory services ordered by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). READ MORE
Two new special ed laws signed by Illinois Governor
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed two important special education bills into law. HB3302  extends the statute of limitations on filing complaints for loss of services that were related to the state's investigation of the CPS special education program. HB3586 will improve transparency for special education policies and services and ensure parents have five days to review documents before an IEP meeting. CPS also must post any special ed policy changes publicly 45 days before adoption.  

More good news: Illinois first state to mandate coverage for EpiPens for children

Gov. J. B. Pritzker has signed HB 3435, a law requiring companies selling insurance in Illinois to pay for medically-necessary epinephrine injections--or Epi Pens--for children. Illinois is now the first state to mandate coverage of the potentially life-saving shot.
The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, covers EpiPens used in cases of severe allergic reactions for those 18 years or younger. READ MORE

Stop blaming children when the adults don't have all the answers

This article by Barb Cohen, a trusted ally in our firm's work, is powerful, succinct, and empathetic to both the kids and the teachers. It does a great job of summarizing some of the key systemic shortcomings of the IDEA and special education. It is important for both teachers and educators to be aware of the phenomenon Barb describes and to find ways to mitigate it. I hope this gets discussed by parent and teacher organizations around the country. READ MORE

Recognizing the "superhero" para-professionals in our schools

This essay written by a teacher--"Why Teacher's Aides Deserve Our Appreciation Every Single Day"--hits home in Chicago, where our teacher aides and other school staff have been working without a contract for over a year and are gearing up to strike.
Paraprofessionals make our schools run but are some of the lowest paid and underappreciated workers in the district. In fact, according to the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), 60 percent of CPS PSRPs make so little that their own children qualify for free lunch. That's shameful. READ THE ESSAY

Survey shows broad discontent among the nation's teaching force
This survey is cause for concern for anyone who cares about our nation's public schools. "I am a fool to do this job," says one teacher in the survey, conducted by PDK International. 

More than half of the teachers surveyed said they are so unhappy they have considered quitting and half said they would strike for better pay. Even more telling, though, a higher percentage say they would strike for more resources and programs for their schools.
"I find it really alarming that more than half of teachers say they've seriously considered leaving their profession," said Joan Richardson, director of the PDK poll. "Imagine if physicians were saying that, or police officers. I regard this as a crisis." No argument here. The teachers shortage is a national crisis and needs to be treated as one. READ MORE

Labor Department says IEP meetings can qualify for time off under FMLA

In a surprising ruling, Trump's Department of Labor has ruled that, in some circumstances, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides time off for parents to attend their child's IEP meeting as long as their presence is needed to provide care for the child.
FMLA guarantees certain workers unpaid time off to care for family members with qualified medical issues. Employees who take advantage of the time off cannot be fired. Since IEP meetings can cover "medically prescribed" services such as speech, physical or occupational therapy, they can be covered by FMLA, the department wrote.  READ MORE

Combating isolation in parents of children with disabilities
If you are a parent of a child with a disability, chances are you've felt isolated. It's a very real phenomenon that needs to be acknowledged. This article suggests 10 tips parents can use to combat that feeling. They may not work for every parent but it's worth a read. READ MORE 
Immigrants with disabilities face new challenges under Trump's "public charge" rule
Immigrants with disabilities could face more difficulty becoming U.S. citizens or permanent residents under new rules from the Trump administration. Known as the "public charge" rule, it allows immigration officials to deny residency applications based on the applicant's use of government assistance, such as Medicaid.
In the past, government officials did consider an immigrant's potential need for housing, healthcare or food assistance. But Trump has now expanded the reasons an application can be denied to include Medicaid eligibility and lack of funds for future medical needs. While the rule applies only to immigrants seeking residency, one advocate notes it "sends a message to all Americans with disabilities that this administration does not value or welcome you." READ MORE

In the news...

CPS plans to spend $10.5 million this year on investments to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. But that's not even a drop in the bucket of what is truly needed. 

Last school year, almost a third CPS schools had at least one regular education or special education teacher position vacant all year and the problem is most severe in schools serving mostly low-income and Black students. 

CPS and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot are promising to boost staff, but many positions from prior year's "promises" still remain unfilled. 

The CTU says the school budget doesn't match the promises made by the mayor, but the Board of Education approved it anyway. 
Recent Firm Successes
  • Negotiated expedited return of student excluded from school for social media incident including recognition of multiple disabilities, credit recovery plan, and support plan for return.
  • Secured continued blended public school/private school placement for high school senior with anxiety issues that interfere with ability to participate in public school. 
  • Negotiated terms of return for student expelled due to district that wrongfully rejected that behavior related to disability. 
  • Assisted family in getting admission of gifted 4th grader into accelerated 7-9th Grade program at Selective Enrollment School.
  • Secured private residential placement at therapeutic transition program, transportation, and reimbursement of additional college course tuition for 18 year old with learning disabilities and anxiety.
  • Secured placement at private residential therapeutic school for 9th grade student with learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD and PTSD.
  • Obtained expungement of discipline records and reinstatement at public school for high school student who had been wrongfully expelled for disability-related behavior. 
Upcoming presentations
Know Your Rights: Getting What Your Child Needs from the Special
Education System
Presentation by Matt Cohen and Brad Dembs 

Sponsor: Easter Seals of Rockford and the Autism Program of Illinois
Saturday, Nov. 2 
10 a.m.  - 1 p.m.
1601 Parkview Ave.
Rockford, IL

MCA updated logo 
Office News and Updates

Matt Cohen has, once again, been selected as an Illinois Leading Lawyer for 2019 - 2020. 
Matt Cohen currently serves on the boards of the national Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), where he is a founding board member, and Our Place of New Trier Township, a community-based program for young adults with disabilities.  
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, 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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