Getting Kids on Track to School Success


Finding Help in Your Community or on the Internet

When looking for help, be aware of the way that laws apply to your area. Federal or national laws must be followed by every community in the United States.  State and local laws must provide the same or more than the rights guaranteed in federal law. They cannot provide less than the federal law. For each federal law, there are federal regulations, a state law that spells out the federal law’s application in that state, and state regulations created by each state’s department of education.

In addition, there may be lawsuits that only affect particular districts. For example, in the New York City public schools, the Nickerson case created specific entitlements in New York City that do not apply to any other school district. In addition, your local school district should have policies that are explained in your student’s handbook. A local group is more likely to have thorough knowledge of the legal framework for your area.

National Referrals

For referrals throughout the United States, contact the following:

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates

Legal Services Corporation

• This is the single largest provider of civil legal aid for the poor in the U.S. On their home page is a map where you can locate a Legal Service Office in your community. Some offices will help with special education problems.

National Center for Learning Disabilities

• In the left column menu, select Resources. There you can use the Resource Locator to find different types of services in your area.

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities

• Has many publications including “Developing Your Child’s IEP” which explains the IEP document.

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights

• 1-800-421-3481
• TDD: 877-521-2172
• Email:

• To locate the office that serves your state, select Office Contacts on the menu. There you will find a search menu. You enter your state and information on the office that serves your state will be shown.

Wright’s Law

• A leading national website on special education law and advocacy.

State Referrals

For referrals and resources in your state, contact your state’s Education Department. Also go to your state government’s website to look for youth services and services for the disabled. You can also contact the Bar Association for your state to locate an attorney.

A list of agencies and organizations in your state.

In New York State

New York State Education Department has services and 
publications including:

• A guide on preschool transition

• A guide on preschool special education

• A guide on special education in English

• A guide on special education in Spanish

New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS)

• This state agency funds the local Youth Bureaus.

Local Youth Bureaus

New York State Office of Mental Retardation and 
Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD)

• This office seeks to help people with disabilities to live richer lives. To find your regional services including your local Developmental Disabilities Service Office, select the Services tab.

N.Y.S. Bar Association

• Use this site to locate attorneys in your area.


• This is an information and referral service that is available in some areas. It functions like 911 except that it helps with human service needs that are not emergencies. (In New York City, call 311)

Legal Services of the Hudson Valley

• Provides free civil legal services to low-income people.

Partnership for Children’s Rights

• A nonprofit law firm dedicated to helping disadvantaged children throughout New York City.

Law Help

• Helps low and moderate people to find free legal aid programs in their communities.