When school administrators behave badly: like lying to a student, offering an inappropriate placement or program because it is cheaper, deny services, or settling a suit for a student who has been injured, they leave their Board of Education vulnerable to a lawsuit. Instead of “negotiating” with the offending administrators, I contact the Board of Education (BOE) directly.
It’s the Board of Education who gets sued, not the administrators. Most of the time the BOE is insulated from the bad decisions of the administrators (usually, the director of special ed. in the district). Often the administrator leaves it to the Board’s attorney, to negotiate a settlement.
Usually, parents are desperate to get the right program for their child, especially when her needs have been largely unmet for several years. School’s know this (and they don’t care) and so will offer less-than-great terms of an agreement.
I bypass the administrator and go straight to the Board of Education. I send each one a letter describing the condition of a student (my child, or one of my client’s children) in the district, and how it was the school’s fault for not fulfilling its duty.
This can be effective when there has been a particularly egregious breach of duty by the school. The Board often will step in and authorize the administrators to give the family whatever they want (up to a point) just to get rid of them as a legal threat.
BOE members usually want to be seen as good guys. They often want to go on to run for First Selectman or other service. They don’t want their reputations tainted by a discrimination lawsuit.
So, assuming there is a reasonably good case, I go straight to the BOE with a letter describing the offense, and mention our willingness to go to litigation. I have found much better terms for settlement or additional services this way.
Caveat: do not threaten a lawsuit if you do not intend on following up with it. You will lose your credibility.