"Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself."
~ John Dewey
Consult: Sometimes parents just need some advice and guidance. School districts always have an attorney, even if he is not at the meeting. Parents consult an attorney to level the playing field.
Hire: Some parents are intimidated by CSE or Section 504 meetings, or they have a complex situation. These parents want an attorney to advocate and negotiate on their child’s behalf at the meeting. Having an attorney at the meeting makes it less emotional.
Hearings and appeals: Other parents have reached a point where the best option is an impartial hearing. They need an experienced special education attorney to carefully review the situation and make that determination.
The US Supreme Court just issued its unanimous decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District finding that schools must provide a program for students with disabilities that is "reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress in light of the child's circumstances." This is more than a merely "de minims" or minimal benefit. This decision is especially important for students who are not taking general education classes.
As parents attend annual review meetings, remember that the child's educational program should now be reasonably calculated to enable the child to make real educational progress. Schools should not repeat programs that have not been successful in the past.