Learn here about your child’s right to special education and your right to advocate for what your child needs. Whether you are preparing for your first IEP team meeting or planning for graduation, we want you to be a better-informed advocate for your child. Here are some key terms and useful links.  We’re here to support you every step of the way.  Let us know how we can help.

“Due Process” is the term that’s used to describe legal procedures used to resolve a dispute between the family of a child with disabilities and the child’s school district. If you want to improve your child’s educational program, you have to consider “due process.” So much depends on what you decide to do. Litigation can be costly, stressful and complicated.   If you are in a dispute or disagreement with your child’s school, and you think that “due process” is on the horizon, don’t go it alone! We will help you avoid litigation if that’s possible. If it’s not, we will help you win.
Mediation is a meeting between the parties – the family and the school district – that is facilitated by a neutral mediator who helps both sides to move toward a resolution and settlement. Mediation and settlement negotiations are the best chance to have a say in the outcome of your case! They are also risky business for unrepresented parents, especially when you’re trying to resolve multiple issues and the negotiations involve waivers of rights and claims. Work with a qualified and experienced special education attorney to avoid the pitfalls and get the best outcome available from your settlement agreement.   “What I feel, that would also help other parents, is to know that Heather is an empathetic lawyer and a caring fellow Mom, who understood my concerns and encouraged me to keep up the good fight, throughout my time working with her. Heather Zakson is truly one of a kind.  I would recommend Heather Zakson to anyone who not only wanted to get the job done right, but get it done with integrity! “ –  Burbank, CA
California’s Regional Centers were established to provide a wide range of supports and services for people with developmental disabilities of all ages. There are 21 Regional Centers spread out geographically across the state.  The Regional Center system is unique to California and does not exist in any other state.  A few other states have comparable systems, but most do not. The law that governs Regional Center eligibility and responsibilities is California’s Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Act, usually referred to as the “Lanterman Act.”  It’s found in the State Welfare and Institutions Code. California established the Regional Center system to “assist persons with developmental disabilities and their families in securing those services and supports which maximize opportunities and choices for living, working, learning, and recreating in the community.” Every Regional Center client has a written Individual Program Plan (“IPP”) that describes their needs and the services they receive. The IPP is reviewed and updated at least annually.  Regional Center service coordinators should use the principles of Person-Centered Planning to help Clients and their family members and people in their circle of support to design an IPP that works for them. When a client or family disagrees with what the Regional Center has done, there is an appeal process and a chance for a Fair Hearing before a judge. We can help you understand what resources are available, and help you get what you need.
Conservatorship is a legal status, ordered by a judge, that limits the rights and responsibilities of an adult with disabilities (the conservatee) and appoints another person (the conservator) to oversee those rights and responsibilities. Limited Conservatorship is especially for people with developmental disabilities who are clients of a Regional Center. Have you been told that you or your loved one needs a. conservatorship? It’s important to know that conservatorship is not the only way or to support and help an adult with disabilities! There are other options including supported decision-making. 
Adult Transition is the term we use to describe the process of getting ready for adulthood, and the time period from the mid- to late teens when it’s important to make sure that the student has mastered age-appropriate skills and understanding and is participating in activities that are appropriate for young adulthood. IEPs for teens and young adults must include Adult Transition Planning in three areas:
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Independent living
Importantly: Transition planning must include the student!  It’s the only time that the IEP team is required to incorporate the student’s ideas, wishes and priorities for their own future.  It’s an exciting time!  And sometimes scary.  We would love to help you and your family make the most of the opportunity to improve your student’s educational program and move toward a bright future!  How can we help?
An Independent Educational Evaluation is performed by a qualified professional who does not work for the public school or school district.  The IDEA provides that parents of special education students have a right to an IEE when they disagree with the public school’s evaluation of their child.  20 U.S.C. §1415(b)(1), 34 C.F.R. 300.502. A qualified expert assessment is essential to understand and to prove what kind of educational program and services the school district should provide your child to meet his or her needs.