How We Work
We provide information, technical assistance, and advice to parents and professionals. As a convenience to the person requesting help, this is often done over the phone. Services are provided by Educational Advocates under the supervision of our Legal Director. Our advocates have experience in law, disabilities, and other special needs of children.
An Educational Advocate is assigned to work with you and your child throughout the process. In some cases, the Advocate will ask to review your child’s school records in order to develop a better understanding of the particular facts before providing assistance. In these cases, you will be asked to sign a release.
In some complicated cases, we offer to represent your child at meetings of the Committee on Special Education, 504 meetings, and/or disciplinary hearings. When we represent your child, we may need to meet with you and your child at our office in Elmsford.
Who’s Eligible for Service
You (or professionals working with your family) can call to request service if you meet the following requirements:
1. Your child has a problem in school.
2. Your child is less than 21 years old and does not have a regular high school diploma (GED and IEP diplomas are not regular diplomas).
3. Your family is a resident of Westchester or Putnam Counties.
4. Your family does not have an attorney or advocate who is already representing your child (any representation for your child must be disclosed to determine eligibility for service).
How to Get Help
Call us at 914-347-3313. Our Administrative Assistant will ask basic information about you and your child, but cannot provide technical assistance. An Education Advocate will call you within three working days. Ask for her name and direct number so that you can easily reach her. When writing to us, write your Advocate’s name and Student Advocacy on the envelope. Please note that office visits are by appointment only.
How Quickly We Can Respond
We respond as quickly as we can. Sometimes, that is immediately. However, advocates are often attending meetings for other children and may need a few days to return your call. When your advocate does call, she will want to clarify the school issue and may provide assistance at that time. If the case is complex, your advocate may need to do further research. With the exception of a Superintendent’s suspension hearing, we require at least five weeks lead time to allow us to conduct all necessary preparation in order to best represent your child.
What We Can & Can’t Do
Educational advocacy takes time. Quick solutions that are made without an adequate understanding of your child are likely to fail.
• We cannot rush school procedures, which may be lengthy, so please contact us well in advance of
any school meetings, particularly in the spring.
• Students are entitled to a reasonable educational benefit, not the best educational services, and we will advocate for the maximum benefit under the law.
• We will only take actions that are in the child’s best interest.
• We work almost exclusively at the school district level because we are so successful. If you want to pursue an Impartial Hearing we will refer you to another agency.
General information is provided at no cost to you. If we need to review your child’s school records or represent your child, there may be a fee involved. We try to match your family with one of our programs so that there will be no cost to you. Otherwise, you will be charged on a sliding scale that takes into account income and family size. If we decide to review your child’s school records, we will advise you at that time if there will be a fee to ensure that you are aware of it and accept responsibility for payment.