I want to hire a lawyer to represent me in a special education mediation, but I’m afraid the school district will retaliate against me or my daughter. What can I do?
The best way to protect against or deal with retaliation is to engage the services of a lawyer who specializes in representing parents and children in special education law matters. You can obtain a list of special education attorneys practicing in Iowa by contacting the Iowa Department of Education, or the ASK Resource Center at (800) 450-8667 or TDD: 1(800) 735-2942.
After I have filed a request for mediation, due process, or a state complaint with the Iowa Department of Education, and served it on the school district, I have never had a parent report retaliation. The reason for this is that school districts know retaliating after a parent has engaged a lawyer would be an incredibly stupid thing to do.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protect entitled individuals with disabilities against discrimination, and protect their parents when acting appropriately on their behalf to ensure their rights. Specifically, Section 504, which references Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, states that recipients of Federal funds, which would include school districts, “shall not intimidate, threaten, coerce or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by the Act, or because the individual has made a complaint, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing.”
Instead of retaliating, after school districts are served with a legal action, some “clean up their act” to avoid creating additional evidence that would support or substantiate the parent's case.