Upcoming Matt Cohen and Associates Webinars

Compensatory Education vs. Compensatory Services and COVID 19
Matt Cohen
August 10, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. 

COVID wreaked havoc on the special education of many students and you may have a potential right to compensatory services. Learn about your rights if your child's special education was disrupted. Register in advance.

Transition Back to School
Brad Dembs 
August 17, 4 – 5 p.m. 

Learn strategies to advocate for your child's needs in order to position yourself for success now and during their transition back to school for the upcoming year. Register in advance.

IEP vs. 504 plan vs. MTSS 
Matt Cohen
August 24, 4 – 6 p.m.

Matt Cohen will discuss the nuts and bolts of IEP plans, 504 Plans, and using a comprehensive multi-tier system of supports. Register in advance.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Resources on compensatory education and COVID

The impact of COVID on education has been monumental. Students with disabilities were especially affected by the loss of regular school and the implementation of remote learning due to COVID restrictions. Fortunately, both the federal and state government have declared that some students with disabilities may be entitled to compensatory education to help counter the impact of remote learning on their education. 

Our office has prepared resources to help you determine whether your child may qualify for compensatory services. Read more and watch our webinar about the rights of special education parents during the school shutdown.

Illinois Governor reimposes mandatory mask requirement in Illinois
While parents are divided on whether masks should be required in schools this fall, Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker has settled the issue by ordering a mask mandate for all students, staff and visitors in public and private pre-K through 12th grade schools.

The governor cited the new Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance and the rapid spread of the Delta Variant as reasons for issuing the mandate. Read more from the Chicago Tribune.  
Pennsylvania gives students an extra year of school to make up for COVID disruptions
A new Pennsylvania law allows special education students who otherwise would have aged out of school to receive an extra year of special education eligibility to account for the pandemic’s disruptions to education. The law also allows all students to repeat the grade they were in last year. 

Parents had until July 15 to decide whether to take advantage of the new law. Illinois should adopt a similar plan. Read more from Chalkbeat.
Long COVID symptoms may qualify children for services under IDEA
Educators and special education advocates need to be on the lookout for symptoms of Long COVID, many of which are similar to other disorders and disabilities that obligate school districts to provide services under IDEA. It is possible that a child displaying post COVID-symptoms could be eligible for an IEP or 504 plan even though not previously diagnosed with an eligible disability. Read the guidance from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. 
Anxious about returning to normal life after pandemic? You’re not alone 
After a year of social isolation and remote work, many Americans are looking forward to a “return to normal.” But according to the American Psychological Association (APA) about half of the country feels anxious or uneasy about returning to pre-pandemic life. The APA also reports that more Americans sought out mental health services during the pandemic and reported a decline in mental health.
An article published by Northwestern University’s Family Institute discusses “reentry anxiety” and suggests some ways to understand and cope with it. Read more from the Family Institute.
Plummeting pandemic test scores are not the real problem for schools
Even though Texas offered more in-person instruction than most states, its test scores during the pandemic plummeted with remote learners seeing massive declines. Such findings could feed the test-score mania that often grips public schools.
But this essay, published by the American Enterprise Institute, argues that focusing only on failing test scores, rather than the failures of remote learning, won’t get schools back on track this fall. Read the full essay.
Illinois bans police from using deceptive practices when interrogating youth  
Illinois has become the first state in the nation to ban police from lying, making false promises or using other deceptive practices to coerce confessions out of minors. Illinois alone has wrongfully convicted 100 people based on false confessions, 31 of them young people under the age of 18, according to the University of Illinois’ Innocence Project.
“Our state has been known for too long as the ‘false confession capital of the country,’ and we are proud to see Illinois take a leading role in reforming this outdated practice,” the project’s director says. Read more from the Innocence Project. 
Yes, there is a school-to-prison pipeline (as if we didn’t know that already!)  
"For whom are our schools safe?" asks a news study that finds the school-to-prison pipeline isn’t just a figment of the imagination of left-leaning educators. It’s a reality that leads to disproportionate arrest and incarceration rates later in life, especially for Black and Latinx boys.
The study, conducted by researchers from Boston University, the University of Colorado Boulder, and Harvard, found that children who attend grade schools with strict discipline policies are more likely to end up in the criminal justice system as adults. "As the nation continues to grapple with questions about racial equity and police reform, the contributing causal role that school-discipline practices play in raising the risk of criminality in adulthood cannot be ignored,” they write. Read more from U.S. News and World Report. 

Recent firm successes
  • Secured continued placement in inclusive public school setting for 2nd grade girl with epilepsy whom the school district was trying to move to a more restrictive self-contained program.

  • Obtained substantial recovery of attorneys’ fees from school district, incurred during successful due process hearing.
  • Worked with team to successfully support a student's step down from a residential to private day placement.
Upcoming Conferences and Presentations

Matt Cohen
The Impact of the Pandemic and Remote Learning on Kids with Disabilities and What Can Be Done About It
Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois Annual Meeting. 
Oct. 2
Virtual presentation, consult LDA of Illinois for details. 

Matt Cohen
Remote vs. In-person Instruction: Practical and Legal Issues Arising for Students in Special Education and How to Assure They Receive FAPE
2021 Virtual International Conference on ADHD
Nov. 5, 5 p.m.

Office news and updates
MCA attorney Nina Hennessy authored an in-depth article on special education law published by the DuPage County Bar Association. Read Nina's article.

Verity Sandell participated in a panel at the Loyola University School of Law discussing key considerations for special education as school districts prepare for the upcoming school year.

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 2021 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 2021. The distinction of being a Leading Lawyer has been earned by fewer than 5 percent of all lawyers licensed to practice law in Illinois.
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? Click here for further details.

We offer several different brochures related to the following topics, available by calling the office: 

  • 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


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 tami.kuipers@gmail.com

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
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. 
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