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My daughter was diagnosed with severe ADHD by a psychologist and three MD’s. The school refused to do an MFE, and they also refuse to give me access to her school records. In three years, I requested access numerous times, and have been refused. Several teachers have outright harassed my daughter; one even going as far as destroying assignments for another class and openly discussing her ADHD in front of the entire class.

The school bypasses me and goes to the non-custodial parent for all issues, despite the court order giving me custody. The school created an intervention plan, but the individual teachers were given a choice as to if they honored it or not. The superintendent refuses to acknowledge my complaints.

The school staff claims my daughter is making “behavioral choices” and is not affected by ADHD. Every agency I turn to refuses to get involved, claiming all the issues should be dealt with at the local level. I requested a list of low or no-cost legal services, and the school simply emailed me a link to COSERRC.

I have talked to several local attorneys, but they all run $250 an hour and want a $15,000 retainer. I contacted the Office of Civil rights, but they only will deal with issues specifically related to disability discrimination. Since she hasn’t “officially” been identified as having a disability, their involvement is very limited. Who do you turn to when you can’t afford the expensive attorney, and none of the state education agencies will get involved?

Unfortunately, it sounds as if you may have exhausted many of the obvious options for where to turn. Your situation reflects one of the pervasive problems with the special education system, to wit that adequate representation is often not available or affordable, despite myths and legends to the contrary.

You did not mention filing a complaint with the state department of education, which you can do without a lawyer. You might also want to contact law school Legal Clinics in your state, as some of them may have special education advocacy programs. You may also want to contact the State Protection and Advocacy Organization. You can get your state’s Protection and Advocacy info at the National Disability Rights Network .

Finally, you may want to contact your local bar association, as the bar often runs Pro Bono programs that link lawyers to clients who cannot afford an attorney.

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