School Traffic

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The Problem

School-related traffic congestion and the risks such congestion poses to the safety of the students, teachers, parents, and residents, in and around schools is a significant problem in this community. The most obvious cause of traffic congestion around schools is vehicles, and the biggest source of those vehicles is simply the parents’ dropping off and picking up their children from school. In the United States, roughly three-quarters of school-aged children are taken to school by car.  As described below, an increase in children taken to school by car is just one contributing factor to the problem. Other factors include changes In School population, new school construction causing confusion or issues with residents that did not have any issues previously, and traffic signs and signals surrounding a school.

Traffic congestion alone causes inconvenience to drivers, leads to lost time from the job, and can contribute to “road rage.” In addition to affecting parent drivers and other commuters, school traffic congestion is a source of problems for students, school staff, residents in and around schools, and local police charged with enforcing traffic laws and responding to problems raised by residents and schools. More importantly, congestion can be a source of traffic crashes and child pedestrian injuries and deaths. Child pedestrian injuries due to traffic are more likely to occur in settings with high traffic volume and on-street parking, with children’s often emerging “masked” from behind parked cars. This is an issue in Schiller Park at all of the local schools.

Factors Contributing to Traffic Congestion Around Schools

While many factors contribute to the problem of school traffic congestion, the single greatest explanation for recent school traffic congestion is actually two fold, the growth of the school-aged population over a relatively short time, combined with the redesign of the drop-off and pick-up system at Kennedy School. Both factors have led to the issues being complained about around that School, and rendering original school drop-off and pick-up schemes (including guidelines for when and where parents may drop off, pick up, and park), street layouts, and traffic control measures ineffective in controlling congestion. I feel I can safely add that in my own experiences the conditions surrounding the Drop-off, and pick-up at Kennedy School is significantly better then it was at the start of this school year, and in my opinion even better then it was when the school used its original traffic pattern.

In general when asked, parents who choose to take their children by car cite distance, traffic hazards, time constraints, and bad weather as the most common reasons for selecting this transportation mode. Other input has suggested that both road safety and “stranger danger” are the key explanations for why parents are increasingly taking their children to school by car. One can view such threats to child safety as both a cause and a symptom of school congestion. On the one hand, parental concerns about traffic hazards could lead more parents to drive their children to school, thereby increasing congestion. On the other hand, traffic congestion could lead to more child pedestrian accidents, with backed up cars’ blocking the views of small children crossing the street to enter school.

Understanding Your Local Problem

The discussion above is only a generalized description of our school traffic congestion. You should use these basic facts to help develop a more specific understanding of your local problem. Analyzing the local problem carefully will help you design a more effective response, and help to open our minds to who is ultimately responsible for these issues, and who has gone above and beyond in their effort to assist in dealing with these issues.

Stakeholders

The following groups have an interest in the school traffic-congestion problem and should be considered for the contribution they might make to gathering information about the problem and responding to it.

Police

This was written more for the police, and the village, not only because they are the biggest stakeholders in solving these traffic congestion problems, but because they are often one of the first to be called when traffic congestion develops around our schools. The Police are more likely to be contacted only after tensions have developed among residents, school staff, and parents over who is responsible for the congestion. Police therefore are in a unique position to serve as mediator between these groups, helping them to seek common ground in developing and implementing effective solutions and ultimately making their jobs easier by reducing the number of calls for service generated by congestion, and traffic safety issues that often accompany it.

Parents

When it comes to both understanding the underlying source of the congestion problem and developing responses to it, parents may be the single most important stakeholder you identify. This is because parents’ decisions to drive their children to school, their concern for their children’s safety, and their regard for existing traffic rules can tremendously affect the problem. With the general courtesy and respect this portion of the issue seems to be very much under control.

Students

While research indicates that most school traffic problems occur around elementary and middle schools, Student input in these lower-grade schools is equally important, and can become critical if a response strategy includes encouraging children to walk or bike to school.

School Administrators and Teachers

School staff often experience the aggravation of school traffic congestion in equal measure to parents. Some staff, such as the principal and school administrators, bear the brunt of complaints by parents and local residents. Given that most congestion occurs in and around school property, the child safety concerns associated with traffic congestion become the school’s responsibility, as well. These are addressed regularly and seem to be of the highest priority to School District 81. No days have gone by that one or all of the administrators of Kennedy School are not assisting with the drop-off and pick-up process, and an army of teachers and staff at all points of the process.

Local Residents

Residents living near schools with congestion problems are very much affected by the problem, and may also be contributing to it In their own way. Imagine being late for work and pulling out of your driveway, only to realize that school traffic is at its peak and it will take another 10 minutes just to travel a tenth of a mile. Residents may become so frustrated by repeated complaints to the school or local police with no visible sign of resolution in sight, that they deliberately ignore signs, speed limits, or pedestrian traffic, further contributing to the congestion problem, and reduced safety.

Responses With Limited Effectiveness

Enhancing the enforcement of existing traffic laws. As with similar, more “reactive” police measures, such as increased patrols, enhanced enforcement of existing traffic laws is likely to have a positive but short-term impact on the problem if not maintained consistently. As soon as traffic enforcement reverts back to preintervention levels, congestion is likely to increase again. However, if patrols are assigned strategically to increase presence during peak arrival and departure periods, they may serve as a very useful and effective complement to other problem-solving measures.

Who’s responsibility is it to remedy this issue?

The answer Is simple to me. The general responsibility falls on all of us, in my opinion some of the responsible parties are already pulling their weight, but the rest of us need to step up.  I have sat and watched at all three of the public Schools since the beginning of the year, and the School District personnel are doing an outstanding job, with the District regularly implementing new technologies and procedures since the begging of the year. The parents actively participating in the process are also for the most part relatively appropriate and respectful during this process with the exception of a small few. They in reality have little choice in the matter, and have taken the changes in stride. The remaining stakeholders need to step up, the resididents around the Schools need to realize that everything that can be done by the Schools is being done, and constantly being improved by the Schools themselves. The remainder of this issue again in my opinion falls on the village, and possibly the police department.

Even though it is my feeling that the issues that most are complaining about are not actually issues at all, but simply a new inconvenience to their daily routine caused by the rerouted lines they are still complaints that need to be addressed, and still remains the normal speeders we see in Schiller Park, and the new ones created by the congestion itself who put our children and residents at risk, specifically at Kennedy School, but in reality all of Schiller Park

There is no consistent police presence at any of the schools during drop-off and pick-up, and it is putting everyone at risk daily. If we all stop blaming the people who are already doing all they can, and direct our energy and issues to those who still have much they can do maybe we will see some meaningful change.

Barbara Piltaver – Village President / Mayor
Phone: 847-671-8502          mayor@villageofschillerpark.com

Thomas Fragakis – Chief of Police
Phone: 847-678-4794         Tfragakis@schillerparkil.us

 

 

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Face Value

As we are all very aware, American culture has taken a turn towards believing in none-truth more than truth. We believe what we read almost completely because someone simply wrote it, and that is taken advantage of regularly. We take things at face value, and Americans as individuals simply do not fact check. However this is not a new situation , but it has gotten worse in the last few years. Most notably during the recent presidential campaign, and election. I believe it’s a side effect of our current culture, not so much that the American people are lazy, but just simply do not have the time. It is in most cases simply not possible for one person to dig through the thousands of fake media posts. Believing something simply because it was written even bleeds down to our local level, but we have an advantage.

Our local political process, and more importantly the process of filtering out the “BS” from the truth is in no way as daunting of an endeavor as it is on the national or even state level. Just like the bigger national stories there is truth and lies all over our local news and stories. We have an election season starting, and with that comes all the “stories”. Now the advantage we have is that many of the groups or people being accused are also local, and this gives us more of an opportunity to approach them, and to simply get their side of the story. Please do not think I advocate their side of the story be taken as fact, but it is one piece in the bigger picture. Many times these stories have other ways of coming to factual conclusions, and often the system of choice at our level is the Freedom of Information Act. At least when the stories are directed at a person who holds a public position, or a public body of government like the School Board, or Village Trustees. At our local level the F.O.I.A. System is not bogged down by overworked underfunded departments who struggle to keep their head above water, and we can get results in a much more timely manner. Private organizations are a little different, but I feel that their own past actions and I’ll be honest good deeds speak for them.

Look at the bigger picture when evaluating a story or accusation posted online. Did the person accusing, or telling the story share what they call facts? Did they back up those facts with sources, and are those sources legally bound to tell the truth? Some red flags should be obvious to spot, but to clarify does the person accusing or telling the story have a less than questionable past themselves? Do they have something to gain from attacking someone’s character or actions? Do they suddenly fall silent when confronted, and even if they join the debate do they still lack details, and sources to their accusations? Do they refuse to help you find the facts to back up their commemts? If they can not or do not the chances are pretty good there is lies in what they are saying.

You have many examples of local people who love to share their nonsense and false information claiming that other parties are simply liars, bad people, or bad organizations because they said so. When asked to clarify they never respond, when asked to validate their allegation they can not. They respond by shutting out the people who challenge them for fear of being caught with nothing, because they have nothing.

David C Stachura is one such individual. He relies on his perceived image to verify the truth of his accusations, and counts on his past and his history of service to the country and community to strengthen his position. He has yet to ever back up one accusation with a fact, and expects everyone to believe him simply because of his past. In fact he has spent thousands in tax payer funds searching for the facts after he has made the accusations, and has every single time come up empty handed. I want to add to this example that their is in fact much for him to be proud of when you look at his history of service, and his past devotion to country. Many years of service to Schiller Park, and his country in the Air National Guard does not mean he is truthful or honest. He has been touted as a local war hero (rightfully so), but that is all anyone wants to see, again people give validity to what he says simply because he was “a war hero”. People change, and what they stand for changes, maybe they never stood for what they portray at all. When you look at his recent activity you will see gaps that don’t add up to the past image he tries to maintain. You should also take those gaps into consideration when evaluating what he has to say as truth or fiction, and don’t judge his statement simply based off of his fabricated image.

David C Stachura was a self admitted close personal friend to another of Schiller Parks most notable who was under indictment and recently settled his case and admitted to theft while fulfilling his role in public office. He learned his manipulation from that same friend. His other friends include a disgraced ex-school teacher, a private investigator who is also The Godfather to one of the admitted thief’s children, and a who’s who of people that have had their own integrity questioned more than a few times. From washed up politicians to questionable mayors, but forget all of those opinions and unprovable comments. The facts are as follows, David C Stachura has yet to share a single thing to back up what he says, he has yet to offer any information as to his source, or to the reasons for his accusations. He has never presented facts to anyone about anything. David Stachura will not engage in open dialogue with anyone he accuses. He abandoned his Role on the School Board of Schiller Park School District 81 only to resign more then eight months later, and continues to ignore the truth as presented. The sources to back up what I saw are in hundreds of blog posts discussing the exact subject, read them, follow the links to the sources in each post.

He is just one of the many examples of the smoke and mirrors his lack of integrity actually portrays.

As usual don’t take anything I write as fact until you have verified it yourself, get the facts for yourself.

Flashing Stop Sign

What happened to the flashing stop sign at Kennedy School in Schiller Park?

All I know is that it is gone. Poof, just as fast as they went up one of the new flashing stop signs near the villages schools just disappeared.

The “Safe Routes to School” initiative is a federally funded program designed to improve the safety of the children that walk to and from our schools. With the Village of Schiller Park receiving money to implement that very initiative. A collaborative effort between School District 81 and the village included purchasing solar illuminated stop signs and vehicle speed feedback signs designed to increase pedestrian safety around all of the village’s schools. Part of the initiative was completed a few months back and the stop signs have been helping remind motor vehicle operators in Schiller park that stopping at stop signs is not only the law, it involves the safety of children.

This “Safe Routes to School” initiative didn’t sit well with everyone, and despite the efforts by many to reduce the signs hours of operation one resident took it on himself to spearhead a campaign to stop the federally funded efforts to help keep the Children of Schiller Park safe. He circulated a petition to have the sign removed, attended village hall, and School Board meetings (Correction: He never attended School Board meetings on this subject). He indicated to some that the flashing of these stop signs disrupted his quality of life, and were a disruption to the community. On Wednesday January 11th I noticed that the flashing stop sign at the corner of Scott and Eden streets in Schiller Park was gone, and had been replaced by a standard none illuminated version. I am not sure exactly when it was replaced as I do not travel that route daily.

History of Safe Routes to School

The SRTS concept began in the late 1970s in Denmark over concern for the city’s pedestrian accident rate. The city implemented a number of improvements including a network of pedestrian and bicycle paths, slow speed areas, narrowed roads and traffic islands. The result was an 85 percent reduction in traffic injuries to children.

The first SRTS program in the United States began in 1997 in the Bronx borough of New York City. In August 2005, federal transportation legislation devoted $612 million for the federal SRTS Program from 2005 through 2009. In 2012, SRTS activities were eligible to compete for funding through the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) transportation bill.

Benefits of Safe Routes to School

SRTS programs can help reverse the downward trend in physical activity levels among children. Walking and bicycling to and from school can contribute towards the development of a lifelong habit of incorporating physical activity into daily routines. Children who walk to school are more physically active overall than those who travel to school by car. Among the benefits of successful SRTS programs are:

Reducing the number of children hit by cars.
-Reducing congestion around schools. Parents driving their children to school account -for 20 percent to 25 percent of morning rush hour traffic. (Source: NHTSA 2003; Dept. of Environment).
-Improving children’s health though physical activity.
-Reducing air pollution.
-Saving money for schools, through a reduction of the need for bussing children who live close to school.
-Improving community security by increasing eyes on the street.
-Increasing children’s sense of freedom.
-Teaching pedestrian and bicycle skills.

What does all this mean in Schiller Park?

First and foremost it means that at one point the safety of our walking School Children was important, but in reality not so important that the complaints of one seemingly never happy resident took priority over the previously mentioned safety of our school aged walking children.

One could also argue that the intersection of Scott and Eden has the highest volume of student foot traffic, more then any other intersection in the village. With over 800 students at nine years old or less attending Kennedy School it’s sad that the leadership of the village of Schiller Park (specifically the mayor) would put the unhappiness of one individual, and his very small petition above the safety of more then 800 students and remove a safety devise at arguably the most crowded school intersection in the village. It sends a very unfortunate message to the remainder of the population of Schiller Park.

In Schiller Park the squeaky wheel apparently gets all the oil. Even if it reduces the safety of children walking to and from Kennedy School.

 

Portions of this post taken from the following web sites:

http://www.idot.illinois.gov

http://www.saferoutesinfo.org

Justice For Bellwood?

Justice for Bellwood, or the taxpayers of Illinois?

A 2010 Tribune investigation revealed that McCampbell had been paid $472,255 in 2009 for holding 10 job titles. Roy McCampbell said in a Tribune investigative story that he earned every penny of his $472,000 salary. When McCampbell retired early the next year, the pay spike inflated his annual pension to about a quarter of a million dollars. At the time the highest of any retiree in the statewide pension system that serves municipal workers outside Chicago.

Then In December of 2011 officials with Bellwood sued the former comptroller Roy McCampbell, they alleged he destroyed the village’s financial credit, and left the suburb with more then a million in debt. The lawsuit accused McCampbell of fraud and legal malpractice and that he breached his fiduciary responsibility to the village.

According to the suit, McCampbell drew up increasingly lucrative contracts for himself, and signed tax-increment finance deals that have left the village in financial distress. McCampbell was under increased scrutiny following the Tribune investigation that showed he was paid the $472,255, and In August of 2012 the Cook County states attorney’s office indicted McCampbell with five felony counts of theft. (https://archive.org/stream/412815-details-of-indictment-of-former-bellwood/412815-details-of-indictment-of-former-bellwood_djvu.txt)

Fast forward now to November 30th 2016 and we finally have a result of the endless process that is our legal system, and those who know how to work it.

Roy F McCampbell, pleaded guilty on November 30th 2016 to misdemeanor theft before Cook County Judge Timothy James Joyce. He was given two years probation and was ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution. 

Thats it, no jail time what so ever.  I guess I should not dismiss the results as simply nothing. He is now a convicted thief, and the McCampbellites can no longer argue that he is innocent until proven guilty. They spent years defending a thief, and that will never change. He is a thief who is in my opinion also an expert at manipulating “the system” to his benefit alone. When I say “the system” I mean every system that he has comes in contact with.

Is this justice for Bellwood or any of the other communities he has targeted? Is this justice for the tax payers of Illinois? I will have to let you be the judge of that, and answer the question yourselves.

More to come

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Truth, Lies, Rumors, and Anniversaries

Today is the two year anniversary of this blog, well at least this version of this blog. On this wonderful anniversary I want to remind everyone that the internet is generally full of crap, and often so are people. For every piece of reputable information there is countless rumors, misinformation, and downright falsehoods. Separating truth from fiction is equal parts a mental battle and diligent research. These truths are in fact why this blog started in the first place. People like McCampbell, Stachura, and Godziszewski gave us that lesson for years. Endlessly having their misinformation called out and proven to be lies.

As long as words are hitting the page, news and facts are filtered through someone. Sometimes this is a ludicrous rumor that somehow morphs into a fact. Filtering out the junk from the actual facts is hard, but it’s not impossible.

We should also quickly talk about how and why misinformation travels so quickly. A number of reasons for this exist, but two are more prevalent than others. First off, we have belief perseverance, which is described as:

Belief perseverance: maintaining your original opinions in the face of overwhelming data that contradicts your beliefs. Everyone does it, but we are especially vulnerable when invalidated beliefs form a key part of how we narrate our lives.

Essentially, once an idea becomes a “fact” in our head, we have a hard time believing that the opposite is true even when it’s disproven. This is how myths and rumors gain steam.

Belief perserverance also plays well with cognitive bias: flaws in judgement where we make statistical or attribution errors based on patterns. These biases include confirmation bias, where we tend to ignore information we don’t agree with, and the bandwagon effect, where we tend to go along with what other members of a group are doing.

Essentially, both make spotting misinformation difficult because we believe just about anything if we want it to be true. The only fix is to acknowledge that we all do this. Once we do, it’s time to start digging for truly reliable information.

Misinformation is everywhere, and although it’s tough to find the truth, it’s not impossible.

Happy Anniversary to all those that have contributed to the spreading of the truth through this blog. Looking forward to many more.

 

Missed Educational Opportunities

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I was recently reading an older article on TribLive written by Kellie B. Gormly (found here) One of the points in the article really stuck with me.

• Don’t demand benefits for your child to the detriment of other children’s needs.

This really stuck with me, and I really cant stop thinking about it.

What has the actions of one family cost every other child in School District 81? More specifically what has the actions of one family cost all the rest of the special education students of Schiller Park School District 81? In monetary terms tens of thousands would probably be a severe understatement. Hundreds of thousands would most likely be more accurate. Can we calculate the educational opportunities lost do to the turmoil surrounding these two people? No matter the price the cost was to high.

We are talking about time in these children’s lives they can never get back. Lost opportunities that will never again be realized. What these two have done should be a crime, and some day maybe it will be, but for now it is up to us to stay informed and educated. We have to be the defenders of our children and grand children. We have to advocate not just for the rights of our own, but for the rights of all children. We have to use the examples of two very destructive adults as what not to do, and learn from the examples of destruction they have perpetrated on Schiller Park School District 81. We have to look at the source of accusations and complaints a little closer, and use that information to appropriately place the venom they speak into the correct category.

Lets recap a post from back in 2014 to restart the flow of reality with one of the individuals we are dealing with. Original post found here. Please keep in mind this is only scratching the surface.


Numerous rumors and untruths have been continuously circulated and posted regarding this very politically active individual.

It is time to set the record straight.

These FACTS: are verified and proven through news articles, court documents, F.O.I.A. requests, his own blog, and resignation letters. Much of this information was taken from the Indictment filed against him. Some of the following “FACTs” are accusations by the states attorneys office, and part of an IndictmentIn the United States of America everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

FACT: McCampbell took advantage of misguided trust and breached every fiduciary duty in drafting and manipulating his employment contracts obtaining benefits never openly disclosed or knowingly authorised.

FACT: McCampbell took measures to cover up his actions and those of his administrative assistant and ultimately just blatantly stole compensation.

FACT: McCampbell, is credited with putting Bellwood Illinois in almost 100 million in debt.

FACT: McCampbell bullied insurance benefits that were never authorized or permitted, and $100,000 in insurance compensation between 2008-2009

FACT: McCampbell stole $20,000 in compensation in 2008

FACT: McCampbell stole $36,000 in compensation in 2009

FACT:  McCampbell Authorized over $400,000 for his administrative assistant’s loyalty and cooperation between 2006-2009

FACT:  McCampbell admitted to taking advantage of the village and actively covered up his true pay.

FACTS: The Defendant ROY F MCCAMPBELL is charged by Grand Jury Indictment with the felony offenses of 720 ILCS 5/16-1

  1. (Theft from Government in excess of $100,000, Class 1 felony),
  2. (Theft in excess of $500,000, non- probationable Class 1 felony).
  3. (Theft from Government in excess of $10,000, Class 1 felony),
  4. (Theft from Government in of $500, Class 3 felony)
  5. 720 ILCS 5/33-3 (Official Misconduct, CIBSS 3 felony)

FACT: Bellwood, Illinois filed a complaint in Cook County circuit court accusing Roy F. McCampbell of running village finances into the ground as he had control of the budget between 2005 and 2009 as comptroller, public safety director and corporation counsel. He was paid more than $1.5 million over this period, ending 2009 with a salary of $449,312.

FACT: “Defendant acted with reckless disregard for the rights and interests of the village in the performance of his duties while a village employee,” the sworn complaint stated. “As a result of his willful, wanton, and/or reckless conduct, the village suffered economic and non-economic damages.”

FACT: McCampbell’s child was dismissed from his school due to abuse of the staff by him and his wife. — information discovered from a currently deleted blog post by McCampbell himself (here)

FACT: McCampbell has filed many unsubstantiated complaints against the school district and its staff, and continues to do so. (more on this in future blog posts)

FACT: McCampbell has stalked teachers and staff on repeated occasions. Including people that have already resigned.

FACT: McCampbells repeated unsubstantiated complaints, and delaying tactics have cost this town and its tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

FACT: McCampbell has used his knowledge as a lawyer to intimidate residents who stand up and defend their children’s education.

FACT: McCampbell has made regular and continuous unfounded accusations against members, and employes of this community with various state organizations.

FACT: McCampbell still practices law despite his ethical breaches while employed by the village of Bellwood

FACT: ROY F McCAMPBELL has stated his intention on running for school board of School District 81 on the April 2015 ballot. Is this the type of man anyone would want having a say in how are tax dollars are spent, or how your children are educated?

I am a bit perplexed and saddened that this individual has the nerve to actually ask for peoples votes!

In subsequent blog articles I am going to explore each of these FACTS more in depth.  We all have a right to differ in our opinion with others.   We need to respect this right of differences of opinion and approach it in a civil manner, but also respect the interests of the constituants in this community and know when to step back.

OPINION: McCampbell has many people tricked into thinking he is doing honorable work  Examples:

  1. Roy, your colleagues, friends and your family know who and what you are. All others matter not one bit, they are merely petty and jealous (and who could blame them). The only way they can be big is to stand on your shoulders. Let them spin their lies, they deceive no one but themselves.
  2. Way to go Roy, tell it as it is…..

OPINION: McCampbell has an unnatural fear of potholes, radon, landfills, and honest people.


 

Please educate yourself with who you are listening to before you believe everything they are saying.

So much more to come

STAND UP AND SPEAK OUT 

 

 

 

 

Guidelines for Choosing an Attorney

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Guidelines for Choosing an Attorney for Special Education Representation

If you have a child with a disability, you may find yourself in circumstances in which you require assistance in securing services to meet your child’s educational needs. In such circumstances, you may turn to an attorney for assistance. Below are some basic guidelines to assist you in selecting an attorney who will be helpful to you.

I want to add one very important piece of information before you get to the official State of Illinois list. This is not on the original, and is simply something that I feel many people overlook.

Do an internet search on any perspective attorneys to make sure they will best suit your needs. Some times you may find the person that seems genuinely perfect to help you in you and your child’s situation just may be in a bit of legal trouble, and nothing would hurt your efforts as a parent more then loosing your attorney in the middle of all your hard work because they went to jail.

This original and official list can be found here.

Select an attorney with special education expertise.
Special education is a complex area of the law, and one not generally taught in law school. Attorneys who assist parents in this field should be well-versed on the various federal and state laws and regulations, as well as the current special education cases coming from the courts.

Select an attorney with special education experience.
The practice of special education can involve simple negotiations, mediation, administrative hearings (called “due process hearings”), or court hearings. Attorneys who assist parents in this field should have experience with all of these areas or at least be able to explain the scope of their special education experience.

Ask how the attorney charges for his/her work.
Special education practice can range from public service attorneys who work for free or at low cost to eligible families to those in private practice who charge for their work. Be sure you understand and get in writing a statement of any and all retainers, hourly fees, or flat fees for representation.

Understand your role as parents.
Attorneys can advise you on the status of the law and about expected outcomes of your case based upon an analysis of the facts and the law. However, you remain the ultimate decision maker with regard to your child’s educational planning. You should also get regular updates from the attorney (preferably in writing) as to the status of the case. The attorney should be reasonably available to answer your questions and clarify issues.

Find out if the attorney has support personnel who will be assisting him/her.
Attorneys can be alone in the representation of families (called “solo practice”) or can practice with other attorneys or paraprofessionals. If you are likely to come in contact with or get billed for such other people, you should understand this person’s role in the case. If the attorney is using a paraprofessional as a lay advocate, you should understand how closely the attorney will supervise this paraprofessional.

Understand how long it may take to resolve the matter.
In some cases, attorneys can negotiate speedy resolutions for their clients; in others, it may take months to reach a resolution. Discuss with your attorney the time frame he/she anticipates in resolving your specific concerns. The attorney should be able to describe the various dispute resolution tactics (negotiation, mediation, due process, or state monitoring) that could apply in your particular case and a reasonable time frame for each.

Select an attorney who understands your child.
Each child with a disability is unique and presents unique educational concerns. Make sure you are confident that your attorney understands the underlying disability and how it manifests itself in your child. If a particular type of disability is new to an attorney, he/she should be willing to educate himself/herself in its particulars.