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Special Education Tip – Who Do You Communicate With When the Parents Hire an Attorney or Advocate? – 32-2017

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Rochelle’s Special Education Tips

Who Do You Communicate With When the Parents Hire an Attorney or Advocate?

It is not uncommon for a parents’ attorney to insist that the school system limit communications regarding the student to the attorney and not to communicate with the parents. Do not follow this directive. The student is best served by your ability to talk to the parents when needed and not to have to go through a third party. You have no way of knowing if your communication with the attorney is being shared with the parents. The only person who cannot communicate directly with the parents is your attorney when the parents are represented by counsel. Likewise, the parents’ attorney should not directly communicate with the school system when the parents’ attorney is aware the school system is being represented. Attorneys have Rules of Professional Conduct governing this area. As non-lawyers, educators are not bound by these rules. Do not be intimidated by attorneys who try to convince you otherwise.

Advocates are not governed by any rules and are not licensed as advocates, and so they can try to communicate directly with the educators. There is no professional code of conduct for advocates. But as with attorneys, you should not cease talking to the parents just because an advocate wants to be the point of contact. Of course, you should never discuss a student with any third party without a signed release from the parents. That includes all forms of communication, including telephone conversations and e-mails.

Rochelle’s Special Education Tips (“Tips”) are designed to be helpful and thought provoking, but should not be considered legal advice as they may not be accurate for use in all situations. Tips are based on my opinions and positions in accordance with federal and Maryland law and my over 35 years of experience in the special education legal field. – Rochelle S. Eisenberg, Esquire
Copyright © 2016 Pessin Katz Law, P.A. All rights reserved.
Tips may be reproduced for distribution within the educational institution, the individual school or school system and is for use by their staff. Additional distribution must be approved by author.
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