Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Special Education?
A: According to the Individual's with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), special education is the core of how schools address the needs of students with disabilities and support them in achieving the annual goals stated in their IEPs as aligned with the state’s academic content standards.
Q: What is a Special Education Law Advocate?
A: A Special Education Law Advocate helps parents write appropriate Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and attain special education services for their child with a disability from the public school system. Please be aware, advocates are not attorneys. However, advocates are extremely helpful in IEP/504 meetings to assist in the negotiation process between parents and their school. Advocates can provide information about special education options and requirements and can help seek specific services or programs. Advocates are familiar with local school resources and can see solutions others might not.
Q: Why do I need an Advocate?
A: The laws regarding special education at both the State and Federal levels can be confusing and difficult to navigate. It’s important for families of children with special needs to stay well-informed and have the necessary tools to make educated decisions about getting the appropriate services for their children.
Q: How is Palm Beach Education Solutions qualified to handle my case?
A: PBES is committed to ensuring your child receives a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) as guaranteed by federal law. Ashley Rivello represents PBES as our top Education Law Advocate in the county. She has first hand knowledge and expertise in special education as it relates to school requirements, procedural safeguards, the IEP/504 process, and educating students with special needs. She spent the first part of her career as a teacher in the public school system and resigned to further her career in the Education Law field. She has since been advocating for families who have a variety of academic and behavioral needs.
Q: What qualities should I look for when hiring an Advocate?
A: Although education advocates are not required to obtain teacher certifications or advanced degrees, it is important that you find one who is well qualified. Ashley Rivello graduated with her Master's of Science in Education Law from Nova Southeastern University's Shepard Broad College of Law. She also earned degree concentrations in the areas of Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Law and Advocacy Law. Ashley is a former teacher and a registered member of the Council for Parent Advocates and Attorneys. She is the only special education law advocate with these credentials and qualifications in South Florida.
Q: Why should someone consider an Advocate over an Attorney?
A: The presence of an attorney at IEP meetings is “strongly discouraged” by the United States Office of Special Education Programs because it “could potentially create an adversarial atmosphere at the meeting, which could interfere with the development of the child’s IEP…” (U.S. Department of Education, 1998). While attorneys have knowledge of law, they often do not have backgrounds in education or hands-on experience working with children with special needs. Attorneys also costs thousands of dollars more when compared to the affordable option of hiring an advocate. In the state of Florida, a parent does not need to hire an attorney to file written complaints, request mediation, or file for due process as an advocate is able to complete the entire process for you.
Q: How much does it cost to hire an Advocate?
A: Hiring an advocate is ideal for parents who cannot afford private attorneys but need the same help and support. Special Education Attorney's can cost anywhere from $250-$300 per hour and require a retainer of at least $2,500 to begin working on a case. PBES has affordable rates and customized advocacy packages to fit your family's needs and budget. Click here to learn more.
Q: How will I know if my case needs the assistance of an Attorney?
A: Only 10% of special education cases go to court and require the assistance of an attorney. The majority of these cases (90%) are resolved through mediation or ADR (alternative dispute resolution) sessions. Our advocate will keep you well informed throughout the process if litigation becomes necessary.
Q: Does PBES have a licensed Attorney on staff that can handle my case?
A: Yes. PBES is a special education law advocate who partners with a licensed attorney should you wish to pursue further legal action against a school district or state educational agency. Our attorney has over 20 years of experience litigating various cases in the state of Florida. Both our law advocate and attorney will work together until a settlement is reached in your favor.
Q: What areas do you service?
A: Palm Beach Education Solutions operates primarily in Palm Beach County, Florida. We will travel to any location in or outside of the state to represent our clients. Please contact us today to discuss your options for legal representation.