New Mission

New Mission


My mission is to explore how other countries around the world are dealing with education and special education issues.

I would like to visit and observe different types of schools that have proven records of success, wherever those schools may be. I would like to meet with school directors and administrators, government officials, leaders in the business world, and others who are responsible for implementing education systems or otherwise connected to education to learn more about how education is being addressed in their communities.

If you know of any remarkable schools in other parts of the world (especially special needs schools), please let me know about them. If you know of any education experts who are engaged in remarkable work in this field, please introduce me to them.

Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts or ideas regarding the above. Read more about my mission here.

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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Office Outing: Beat The Bomb

Beat The Bomb seemed like it could be the perfect team-building activity.  That's what our firm was looking for so we decided to give it a shot.

On Tuesday evening last week we headed to an office building in Dumbo for our paint challenge.  Upon arriving we entered a dimly lit bunker-type atmosphere:


After checking in and getting settled, our first task was to pick a team name.  One suggestion was "Marshmallows," for the white hazmat suits we would be wearing and the delicious snack we would resemble.  Others suggested using the first initial of each team member's name to form a word: MAPAS, PSAMA, ASPAM.  Spam caught on; we also really liked marshmallows.  Thus "A Spam Marshmallow" was born and our team's identity forged.

Having named our team, we were ready for the garb.  We hopped into our faux hazmat suits and later geared up with helmets and gloves.

We communicated, strategized, and made our way through 4 rooms, each room presenting a different challenge that required collaboration.  The objective for each room was the same: do our best with the challenge presented in order to earn time for the 5th and final room -- "the bomb room."

We programmed computer screens, slithered between laser beams while crossing from one side of the room to another, and memorized and utilized color and shape patterns.

We then proceeded to the bomb room for a video game challenge and our chance to beat the bomb.

Though we didn't succeed in beating the bomb (few do), we destroyed a handful of targets, got smothered in paint, and ended the evening in smiles and laughter.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Planning Beyond Tomorrow: Special Needs Panel Presentation on Wednesday, July 24

I will be participating in a panel presentation called Planning Beyond Tomorrow on Wednesday, July 24.  The purpose of the presentation is to connect with individuals who have, or work with, children with special needs and to educate the audience about how to plan appropriately for the needs of a person with special needs.  On the panel I will be joined by Dr. Lauren Tobing-Puente, a licensed psychologist who has experience assessing children's unique profiles; Sarah Moskowitz, a trusts and estates attorney who has experience with wills, supplemental needs trusts, and guardianship; and Jacqueline Engel, a financial advisor who has experience with financial planning, tax strategies, and government benefits.  I will be presenting on the topic of defending children's educational rights and pursuing appropriate educational programs and services.

Below please find a copy of the flyer containing more information about the panelists:


Here is a link to the formal invitation, including the event location and RSVP information:

http://jacquelineengel.nm.com/EventSite.cfm?event_ID=87333

Please RSVP if you plan to attend.  It will be a great event and we hope to see you there.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Father's Day

This Sunday I will be celebrating my second Father's Day.  During the course of the day, I expect that my wife and I will reflect on my daughter's birth 21 months ago, how much she has grown since then, and the happy memories we have shared together as a family.

I continue to be amazed by my daughter's development.  The way she has learned to put words together, for example, is fascinating ("Daddy, sit, floor" or "more...melon" or, on occasion, "some...pancakes").  She is attuned to the weather ("sunny day" or "windy").  When she has had a rough day and just wants to cuddle up and unwind, she asks for "cozy" and "book."  She has learned how to tug on our heart strings, asking for "huggies," especially when we are putting her to sleep at night and she wants us to stick around longer.  She has become fast friends with her gray plush dog and runs around our home asking "Gray, where are you?"  Her problem solving abilities impress me too.  Like when something fell underneath the couch out of our reach and she suggested "broom" to help us corral the item.  When I came back from the gym sweaty one morning, she said "yucks" (admittedly, with some prompting from my wife) followed by "clean, head, shower."  Every day is an adventure and the first 21 months have been quite a ride. 

At the same time that my wife and I will be reflecting on the past, we will be looking to the future.  In particular, we will be wondering what our lives will be like in just a few short weeks when my wife is expected to give birth to twins.  I cannot imagine what life will be like then but were are very excited (and a little nervous) to find out.

To the other fathers out there, on behalf of my family and my firm, I would like to wish you a very special Father's Day.  I hope it is a day filled with joy, togetherness, and quality time with your children and loved ones.

Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Office Outing at Chelsea Piers

On Tuesday evening this week we unglued ourselves from our chairs, separated from our desks, and just generally unplugged in order to enjoy an office outing playing mini golf at Chelsea Piers.

While the faces below may look friendly, the competition was on and the stakes were high.


The sun was shining, the sky was clear, and the breeze was delightful as we made our way through the golf course.  We challenged each other over 18 holes and, at the conclusion, a winner was crowned and a prize was awarded.   

It was a great night and a fun time all around!

Monday, May 20, 2019

MCC Seeds Of Hope Gala 2019

Last week Amled, Phil, and I attended the Manhattan Children's Center's (MCC) Seeds Of Hope Gala at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers.


It was a beautiful evening with tasty dishes in a spacious room overlooking the Hudson River. Rain and fog obstructed the view at the start of the evening but eventually cleared to reveal captivating views of the river and skyline as boats scurried by and nighttime descended.

As always, it was nice to catch up with old friends and meet new people. The absolute highlight of the evening was bumping into a client and learning that she and her son would be featured in the evening's video. As is sometimes the case, Amled, Phil, and I hadn't met this child previously, even though our firm has been representing him for the last several years. We were filled with joy to see and hear how much he has grown and developed over his years at MCC. Following his progress through a multimedia lens in this unique setting was special, and, needless to say, quite different from our normal perspective based on progress reports and legal documents.

Watching the video, I was reminded of the beauty in the work that we do. It is an amazing feeling to observe the results of the special education supports we fight for on our clients' behalf.

Thank you to our client for her courage in sharing her experiences at the gala, and for the opportunity to represent her son and to play a role in his growth and development over the years.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Manhattan Star Academy Open House on Tuesday, May 7

Manhattan Star Academy (MSA) will be offering an Open House on Tuesday, May 7 for families who would like to learn more about the school's program.

MSA is a private special education school located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that seeks to support and empower children with global developmental delays, autism spectrum disorders, speech and language delays, and neuro-developmental disabilities.  MSA utilizes a comprehensive, tailored approach to meet the needs of children with a variety of skill sets.  Academic curricula and classroom structure incorporate elements from Applied Behavioral Analysis/Verbal Behavior, TEACCH, and Floortime models. 

I will be attending the Open House to field questions from parents regarding the special education legal process, including how to pursue tuition reimbursement.

If you think you might be interested in attending this event, please see below.

OPEN HOUSE

Manhattan Star Academy will be offering an Open House on Tuesday, May 7 at 9:30 a.m. at 180 Amsterdam Ave, 2nd floor, sanctuary.

You can register for the Open House here: 


Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact the individuals listed below.

Thank you for your continuous support of Manhattan Star Academy.

Martina Remy
Coordinator of Admissions
msaadmissions@yai.org
646.795.3850, ext. 1810

Phyllis Platin
Assistant to Coordinator of Admissions
646.795.3850

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Autism Awareness Day

Today is Autism Awareness Day and I wanted to recognize it with a short post.

I first became aware of autism in the spring of 2005.  I was completing my psychology major while abroad at Middlesex University in London.  That experience altered the course of my life.  Had it not been for a small section in a psychology textbook at a school in the UK that sparked my interest in autism I might not be where I am today.

Over the last 15 years I have seen autism awareness increase exponentially.  Organizations like Autism Speaks have been instrumental in driving scientific research and educating the public.  Schools dedicated to instructing students with autism have mushroomed.  Legal battles have been fought and won.  Fundraisers like Night Of Too Many Stars have utilized celebrity to promote the cause.  Sesame Street has introduced Julia, a character with autism, to make children more aware of and sensitive to their peers.

I am proud to have represented numerous children with autism over the last 10 years of practice in the area of special education law.  Oftentimes children with autism require the most intensive interventions.  Our law firm is committed to fighting for the full array of services that they may require, both in school and at home, intensively and consistently, to ensure that they achieve meaningful progress in order to become independent, contributing members of society as much as possible.

I continue to be amazed by the strength of the parents we work with and the skills, expertise, and dedication of the professionals who work with our clients who have autism.

I look forward to continuing to spread awareness about autism and fight for those families who are affected by it.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

COPAA 2019 in New Orleans

This weekend I will be attending the 21st annual Council Of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) conference in New Orleans. 

The conference is a great opportunity to review recent developments in special education law and catch up with colleagues who practice in this area.

I am especially looking forward to the following break-out sessions:

  • The Markedly More Demanding Standard: Endrew F., Z.B., N.P. and the Promise of Special Education
  • Beyond the Black Letter of the Law: Innovative Strategies to Rescue Drowning Students, Develop Appropriate Programs, and Police Their Implementation

Besides the conference, I am excited to be heading to New Orleans for the opportunity to catch up with some family, enjoy delicious food, and bask in the warm weather. 

I also just want to take a moment to note how far our law firm has come since 2010 when I attended my first COPAA conference in Saint Louis and the firm was just a few months old.  Over the last nine years, our law firm has become one of the premier boutique special education law practices in New York City.  In 2018, the firm helped approximately 150 families secure appropriate placement and/or funding for their children in more than 30 schools.  Our team grew to include a second associate attorney, a paralegal, and a full-time office administrator. The firm consists of a dynamic legal and administrative team that focuses on representing individuals with a wide range of special needs and we have earned a reputation for exceptional results and outstanding client service.  

I am grateful for the families we have been able to help and the wonderful people I get to work with every day.  And I am looking forward to continued growth and client service in the future. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Our New Team Member Phillip Kim

I am excited to introduce our newest team member, Phillip Kim, who started working at our law firm as a paralegal earlier this month.

Prior to joining the Law Offices of Adam Dayan, Phillip spent three years as a litigation paralegal at a New York-based boutique law firm specializing in insurance law where he was responsible for all aspects of trial preparation.  Prior to that, he worked as a personal injury law paralegal at a different New York law firm.   Phillip is a graduate of CUNY Queens College where he attained a Bachelor of Arts in Economics.  In his free time, he enjoys making music and exploring food in the city.  He is also active as an event organizer and volunteer.  In 2012, Phillip organized a fundraiser to benefit an organization dedicated to preventing malaria in third-world countries, and in 2007 he was a volunteer for Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief.

Phillip has been a wonderful addition to our team and I know you will enjoy working with him and getting to know him over the coming months.

As 2018 comes to a close, our law firm is excited about starting fresh in the New Year with our enhanced team.  On behalf of my family and our entire law firm, I want to wish you and your family happy holidays and a wonderful New Year! 

All the best in 2019.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving morning I started my day with a solid block of uninterrupted play time with my 15-month old daughter.  I gave her breakfast (pancakes and blueberries), watched her push the laundry hamper around our apartment, changed her dirty diaper, played blocks, read some stories, and marveled at her baby babble.  It's amazing to see how much she has grown, and it was a special way to start off the day. While I am thankful for so many things this holiday, most of all I am thankful for her.

On behalf of my family and our entire law firm, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope your day is filled with delicious food, reflection, gratitude, and quality time with your loved ones.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful start to the holiday season.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Persistent Special Education Deprivations in Texas: A Day Of Reckoning

Over the weekend a friend forwarded an article published in Bloomberg about special education deprivations in Texas.  I thought it would be a good opportunity to use the story to illustrate the kinds of obstacles that parents of special needs children often face.  The story was familiar to me because I had been keeping abreast of some of the special education legal issues in Texas.  What I did not realize when I first opened the article is that it was written by John O'Neil whom my wife and I met a few months ago at the CASP benefit we all attended in March.  John had mentioned briefly that he was working on a story of this nature but it had fallen off my radar.  Nothing gets past my wife, however, and she quickly pointed out that it could be written by the person we had spoken with at the CASP event.  I thought it over for a minute and realized that my wife was right, as she often is.

While John's article focuses on recent developments within the Texas educational system, it highlights a number of barriers that I think parents of children with special needs anywhere oftentimes encounter in pursuing appropriate special education programs and services for their children.  Some of the barriers and issues highlighted in John's article include:

  • Budgetary issues 
  • Quotas/Caps
  • State reimbursement 
  • Federal funding  
  • The relationship between delinquent local school districts and federal government agencies (or federal courts) that are responsible for enforcing IDEA 
  • Tax implications 
  • Shortages of qualified teachers, psychologists, and therapists
  • Certification and qualifications of teachers employed in the school district 
  • Possible cuts to other school spending
  • Backlash from the general education community 

In my experience in New York, clients and prospective clients frequently ask me, "Why won't the school district agree to provide the special education programs/services that my child clearly needs and is entitled to?"  For instance, parents will go in to their school district meetings with evaluations, experts, and persuasive legal arguments carefully organized to support their position about their child's needs, only to be brushed aside by the school district team and brusquely told that their child does not meet the necessary criteria to obtain the services the parents are seeking.  The team usually goes on to say that if the parents have a problem with the team's determination they can pursue their due process rights through the impartial hearing system, which may be effective in the long run but usually is not a quick fix.  

In my 10 years of practice in this field, these issues have always existed and I do not have any reason to believe that they will go away.  The silver lining is that in New York City we have a robust impartial hearing system that gives parents a forum for formally addressing these issues and resolving their claims.  Even in states where the impartial hearing system may not be as structured, parents have the right to pursue their rights under the IDEA in federal court.  Parents always have the right to avail themselves of legal counsel to assist them with pursuing their claims.  And if it is established that a school district has engaged in a persistent pattern of depriving students with disabilities of services to which they are entitled, a day of reckoning will eventually come, as it did in Texas.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

222 Broadway

This week we moved in to a beautiful new office space at 222 Broadway in the Financial District after spending almost 9 years at 100 Church Street.

It is always bittersweet leaving a place where you have experienced so much.  100 Church is where I started the firm back in December 2009.  The firm has grown so much since then and I have grown immensely both personally and professionally.

At the same time, we are all feeling extremely energized and excited about our new beginnings.  I myself have been on an absolute high since we moved in.

On behalf of our team let me say that we are thrilled about working with you in the new school year and we are looking forward to welcoming you to our amazing new space.

If you are an existing client and we have not met in person recently please contact our office administrator to schedule an appointment so we can touch base, review the status of your case, and go over any questions or concerns you may have.

Please also update your records to reflect our new office address.  For now you can continue to contact our office using the phone numbers and email addresses that you have used in the past as they will remain active, and we will keep you informed regarding any updated contact information.

For your viewing pleasure, here are pictures of our new building and the view from my office (check out the castle-like building on the left side of the second picture):


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Summer Vibes

For some people summer means the beach, the sun, the pool, friends, relaxation, vacation, sports, exercise, and happiness.  Whatever summer means to you, I hope you are enjoying it, relaxing, and recharging your batteries.

On the personal side, it has been a great summer for me and one of the best highlights was traveling with my wife and some friends to Iceland.  We spent 5 days and split our time between the South Coast and Reykjavik.  On the South Coast we visited a beautiful crater where we found a calm body of light blue water surrounded by red lava ash and green mossy hills.  We visited impressive waterfalls of different sorts.  At one waterfall, we were able to walk behind the towering stream of water through a cave; at another, we tiptoed oh so carefully on rocks that barely peaked out of the water trying not to slip into the water or bump into our neighbors in order to enter a cave where a hidden waterfall could be found.  We marveled at a geyser bursting up from the earth.  We hiked on a glacier, which was awe-inspiring in and of itself, but even more so because of the kaleidoscope of colors in the surrounding landscape consisting of black lava ash, green moss, white ice, and streaks of blue (from the ice that had only been exposed to the sun for a brief time).  After some time on the coast, we made our way to Reykjavik.  Reykjavik is a lovely city with friendly people and a fun vibe.  We enjoyed exploring the city on foot, learning about the country's history and culture, horseback riding, and enjoying entertainment at the impressive Harpa concert hall.

On the professional side, summer also means that our law office is super busy helping our clients transition from one school year to the next.  Our office has been:

  • Speaking with parents regarding proposed program and placement options
  • Advising parents regarding Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings and school visits
  • Filing Due Process Complaints (DPC's) for our 12-month clients 
  • Preparing Ten Day Notice Letters (TDN's) for our 10-month clients 
  • Filing pendency requests 
  • Referring parents to private professionals in order to obtain necessary evaluations 
  • Connecting parents with service providers
  • Advising parents about busing-related issues 

In addition, we are preparing to move offices over the next few weeks to accommodate our firm's changing needs.  Our offices will still be located in downtown Manhattan just a few blocks from where we are located now, which means we will continue to be conveniently located next to many different train stations, and close to the impartial hearing office in Brooklyn so that our attorneys can commute there easily.

We are excited about continuing to achieve outstanding results for our clients in the 2018-2019 school year and continuing to build our team, innovate, and impress.

We hope you enjoy the rest of your summer.  If you are an exiting client and we can assist with your case, or if you are not currently a client but have some questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our office and will be happy to discuss your situation with you.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Speaking Engagement at Manhattan Childrens Center on Tuesday, April 10

I will be speaking at the Manhattan Childrens Center on Tuesday, April 10 regarding the special education process and the right to funding as part of a joint event with Lauren Mechaly, Esq. who will be speaking about special needs planning.

I am providing the relevant information below for all who may wish to attend.  If you would like to attend, please make sure to RSVP to Patricia Paloma as indicated below, or to me directly at adayan@dayanlawfirm.com, as your RSVP is required in order to be admitted.

Please feel free to forward this information to anyone else who might be interested.


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Centro Ann Sullivan del Peru (CASP) at the Harvard Club in New York City

About four and a half years ago I traveled to Lima, Peru to learn more about Centro Ann Sullivan del Peru (CASP), a private special education school for students with autism, Down syndrome, and other developmental disabilities.  That trip kicked off my mission to learn more about how other countries address education and special education issues.  You can read more about my experience at CASP in my October 11, 2013 and December 8, 2013 blog posts.

A few nights ago I had the opportunity to attend a CASP fundraising event at the Harvard Club in New York City and reunite with some members of the CASP family.  The evening brought back fond memories of my visit to CASP, which, among other things, helped me to better understand the role that a school can play in the lives of individuals with special needs beyond the classroom as the students transition into adulthood and the workplace.

I enjoyed meeting new faces and catching up with people I had spoken with on the phone and corresponded with via email but had never met in person.  One of the highlights of the evening for me was catching up with Dr. Liliana Mayo, the founder and director of the program, whose passion for helping "individuals with different abilities" and whose warmth, enthusiasm, and dedication are an inspiration to continue advocating for those with special needs. 


Pictured above: Liliana Mayo, my wife, and yours truly.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Manhattan Star Academy Q&A

Earlier this week I visited the Manhattan Star Academy (MSA) to speak with parents regarding the special education process.  I provided an overview regarding their rights and their school district's obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and answered questions regarding IEP meetings, Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), private school placement, Carter/Connors funding, and pendency.  What I emphasized to parents at MSA, and what I would like to emphasize again here, is that now is a crucial time for planning purposes as IEP meetings are being scheduled and decisions about your child's programming for the 2018-2019 school year are being made.

Parents should be aware that, in addition to having rights under the IDEA, they also have responsibilities, including communicating their concerns to their school districts and cooperating throughout all stages of the special education process.  The extent to which parents fulfill these responsibilities will affect how likely they are to obtain the supports and services that they are seeking for their children.

Please keep these points in mind as you make decisions about your child's special education needs and feel free to contact our office if we can assist with your planning or address any questions or concerns you may have.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Facing History And Ourselves: The Nanjing Atrocities

Last week I had the pleasure of reconnecting with Facing History And Ourselves, an organization I have become fond of over the last few years.  Facing History is an international educational and professional development organization whose mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds by providing ideas, methods, and tools for classroom instruction to promote cultural understanding and tolerance.  I was excited to attend their workshop about The Nanjing Atrocities.

The Nanjing Atrocities are not commonly taught in schools and a brief background may be useful.  In 1937, Japan invaded China with the goal of conquering the city of Nanjing, China's capital city at the time and a symbol of Chinese nationalism.  Japan's hostile actions were part of Japan's quest to build a Pan-Asian empire and some historians believe that World War II began with Japan's 1937 invasion of Nanjing.  Once Japan forced its way into China, Japan disregarded the rules of war and committed many atrocities, including mass murder, rape, and extreme violence against civilians.  

Facing History examines events that occurred and the context in which they happened in order to facilitate a deeper understanding of the historical significance.  At the workshop I attended, Facing History brought this subject to life through the presentation of rich, primary resources; an examination of the identities of the parties involved in the conflict; and a wonderful presenter who had an excellent command of the material and a warm and engaging style.  Of the primary sources we examined, I was most struck by a 1924 speech made in Japan by Chinese Nationalist leader Sun Yat-Sen about Pan-Asianism.  The speech was a plea to Japan to continue peaceful relations at a time when it was obvious to China that Japan was on the rise and becoming more aggressive.  The workshop also provided opportunities for group exercises to promote an interactive approach for grappling with the material and fostered a fair amount of self-reflection.      

As noted above, an important part of the Facing History approach is to examine the identities of those in conflict.  Our group was guided in examining the circumstances that led to Japan and China's viewing each other as enemies.  I was fascinated to learn about China's self-perception as a victim, Japan's motivations toward aggression, and how their perceptions were shaped by past experiences with the West, which fueled introspection and nationalism in both countries.  

I would like to thank Facing History for the opportunity to participate in this workshop.  I look forward to seeing the organization grow and continue to reach more students.  If you would like to learn more about Facing History, you can visit their website at https://www.facinghistory.org/.

Monday, January 15, 2018

U.S. Department of Education Issues Guidelines for Understanding and Implementing the Endrew F. Decision

The United States Department of Education recently released guidelines regarding the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District.   

For those who would like some background about the case, please see our March 29, 2017 blog post discussing the Endrew F. decision.  You can access that blog post here: 

http://blog.dayanlawfirm.com/2017/03/scotus-decides-endrew-f-case-and.html

The purpose of the guidelines is to provide parents and others with information about the issues addressed in the decision and about implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in light of this decision.

The guidance memorandum is available at the following link:

https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/qa-endrewcase-12-07-2017.pdf 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Time & Space

Where Are We In Time & Space? is a question I asked myself today.  January in New York can get cold and gloomy, especially last week when we endured haltingly cold, near-zero temperatures, "bomb cyclones," and powerful gales of wind.  Right now, the days are short, the trees are bare, the streets are slushy, the people are clad in boots and heavy clothing, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may be kicking in (it's not lost on me that that acronym spells the very word that the disorder describes). We are crashing hard after the Christmas/New Year's peak and counting down the days to President's Week.

But we have to push on and our law firm is doing just that.  Mid-way through the 2017-2018 school year, we are taking stock of the statuses of our clients' cases.  We have litigated and prevailed in numerous impartial hearings of different kinds.  We have successfully resolved transportation issues.  We have negotiated substantial settlements with school districts.  We are continuing to file due process complaints to move our clients' matters forward and we are confident about our ability to achieve positive outcomes. 

At our law office, our team has been meeting on a weekly basis to discuss where cases stand and how to address our clients' needs.  We have been thinking creatively and collaboratively about how to approach our clients' cases in order to achieve the results that our clients seek.  Our team is working diligently to attend to our clients and guide them through NYC's special education gauntlet. 

I am pleased that clients have been coming in to our office for in-person meetings to discuss the current school year, review their children's progress or lack thereof, and map out next steps.  These face-to-face interactions have been energizing for our team.  If you have not yet come in, please reach out about scheduling an appointment. 

As we collectively trudge through the rest of winter, and the 2017-2018 school year, our law office would like to remind you about a few points concerning your child's education:

  • Timing: It is not too early to start thinking about your child's program and placement for the 2018-2019 school year. 
  • Communication: Continue to speak with your child's teachers and providers to ensure that he/she is making progress.  At any point between now and the end of the school year, you may learn that your child is struggling in the classroom and perhaps not receiving adequate programming, services, supports, or interventions.  Updated testing may be necessary or your child's program may need to be modified.  Keep an eye out for red flags, which could include poor grades, acting out, boredom/frustration, social/emotional withdrawal, etc. 
  • Testing and Applications: Psychological evaluations can take time and require planning.  For instance, in some cases it can take 1-2 months to obtain an appointment, and several weeks more to complete testing and reporting.  School admissions applications require planning too.  Leave yourself enough time to complete these processes and adequately plan next steps.  
  • IEP Meetings: IEP meetings are being scheduled and will be held over the next few months leading up to the start of the 2018-2019 school year.  Be prepared to attend them and make sure that the appropriate individuals from your child's current program are prepared to attend the meetings as well.  Make sure that you have all your ducks in a row, including updated paperwork, to increase the likelihood that you will secure the supports that your child needs.  
  • Resources: We pride ourselves on being a one-stop-shop of sorts and we can put you in touch with the right professionals.  These professionals will help you understand why your child is struggling and what kinds of supports your child needs in order to progress.  

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us to discuss your situation and figure out what steps you should be taking.  In the meantime, stay warm and safe.  We look forward to speaking with you soon. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Some Thoughts for the New Year

This week I was able to get away from the office for a family ski trip to Park City, Utah.  It was a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of New York City and I was looking forward to spending time in a quiet and beautiful place that I knew would offer amazing natural beauty.

I am not an avid skier and, frankly, there is nothing about skiing that comes naturally to me.  At 6'3, I find that my height usually works against me because skiing demands keeping your body low to the ground.  For that reason and others, I was definitely outside my comfort zone, but I was excited about hitting the slopes nevertheless.

Once I started skiing, I was awed by the natural beauty surrounding me.  At the top of one of our ski trails, we took in a panoramic view of the Wasatch mountain range.  What a beautiful sight!  The mountain range stood beyond the ski trails, wide and vast, impossible to perceive all at once.  The mountains were brownish/gray and streaked with snow.  I followed the peaks and valleys with my eyes, thinking that they seemed solid and unified, peaceful and still.  They were expressive, rugged, natural, ancient, impressive, and awe-inspiring.  As I admired them, I felt free and calm.  What was most memorable was where it took me: to a happy and peaceful place where I felt connected to nature and to others.

After skiing, I tried snowmobiling for the first time.   I was nervous at first, unsure of what to expect.  When I started out on the trail, I was tentative.  After a few minutes, I became more comfortable in my vehicle.  We were guided to the top of a mountain where I took in another breathtaking view.  We then descended a steep cliff and roamed free across wide swaths of snowy terrain.  It was fun and exhilarating.  Eventually, when our time was up, we made our way back to our starting point.  In the few minutes before we arrived there, I slipped into a sublime mental state.  The snow surrounding me blended into a single whiteness.  I became part of an enveloping white blanket and everything around me went silent.  I came out of it feeling a profound serenity and clearheadedness.

Apart from the exciting activities described above, my trip was also special because it was my first trip with my daughter who just turned four months old.  My wife and I weren't sure what to expect.  Being in the mountains at high altitudes and in wholly unfamiliar environs could have presented many problems for our infant.  By all accounts so far, she has been a superstar (red-eye flight home pending).  She was well-behaved throughout the trip whether we were sitting in a restaurant, shopping, strolling outside, or traveling in a car.  Together we've enjoyed exploring Park City and relaxing.  Most of all, I enjoyed seeing all of the miraculous things she is doing (breathing, eating, smiling, interacting, and expressing her needs, albeit without words) and felt very grateful for them.  It has been amazing getting to know her and watching her develop.  

This New Year's, I would like to wish you and your family all the best in 2018.  I hope you experience awe, new adventures, excitement, peacehappiness, and family togetherness.  I hope your children continue to develop, grow, and succeed and I hope you continued to be amazed by their accomplishments.

Finally, I would like to wish you serenity, clearheadedness, and connectedness, which I was fortunate to experience in Park City this year.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Manhattan Children's Center Seeds Of Hope Gala

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Manhattan Children's Center's (MCC) Seeds Of Hope gala at The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.  For MCC, this year's celebrations marked ten years of educating children with autism.  I particularly enjoyed hearing remarks from Dr. Cecilia McCarton, founder of The McCarton Center for Developmental Pediatrics and the Keswell School, who was awarded the Distinguished Scientist Award, and Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a friend of Dr. Oliver Sacks, a pioneer in the research of individuals with autism and severe neurological disorders who was posthumously awarded the MCC Humanitarian Award.

Dr. McCarton spoke touchingly about her experience working with individuals with autism and also highlighted the collaboration she has observed between parents, educators, therapists, and professionals in the MCC community, which has facilitated effective instruction and meaningful progress.  Dr. Devinsky spoke warmly about Dr. Sacks and painted a picture of a man whose love for his patients allowed him to understand his patients in a profound and personal way.

On this special 10 year anniversary, I would like to extend a heartfelt congratulations to MCC on the wonderful work they have done and wish them continued growth and success over the decades to come.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tribeca Film Festival & Disability

I am a big fan of the Tribeca Film Festival and look forward to attending whenever the event rolls around.  At this year's festival, I had the pleasure of seeing a film called Keep The Change.  It is a beautiful film that explores a relationship between two individuals with special needs.  Written and directed by Rachel Israel, it is touching, funny, and very enjoyable.  It is also authentic in that the actors themselves have disabilities of their own.  After the screening, the audience was treated to a Q&A with some of the actors and Ms. Israel.  

If you are interested in seeing Keep The Change, there are still two screenings remaining on Tuesday, April 25 at 7:45 p.m. and Sunday, April 30 at 5:45 p.m., although tickets appear to be available on a rush basis only.  You can read more about the film here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

SCOTUS Decides Endrew F. Case And Establishes New Legal Standard

The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided the case of Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District (see 10/1/16 and 1/17/17 blog posts for further background).  In a unanimous decision penned by Chief Justice John Roberts, SCOTUS held that, to meet its obligations under the IDEA, a school district must offer an IEP reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child's circumstances.

In considering the issue of what level of benefit is guaranteed to individuals with disabilities, the Supreme Court revisited Rowley, a 1982 Supreme Court case which first considered the FAPE requirement.  Rowley involved a child with a disability who was placed in a regular education classroom environment and was making steady progress.  The Supreme Court in Rowley decided that the school district had met its burden of providing the child at issue with a FAPE, and was unwilling to articulate a standard that would relate to all students with disabilities including those who were placed in special education classrooms.  Although the Court in that case stated that its decision was limited to the particular facts of the case, the Rowley decision has been somewhat problematic for parents over the last 35 years because school districts have often cited Rowley as a basis for denying parents the additional supports and services that their children might need.

In articulating a more robust standard in Endrew F., the Supreme Court indicated that the new standard was necessary "to remedy the pervasive and tragic academic stagnation" that caused Congress to pass IDEA legislation in the first place.  The Court made clear that the standard it was articulating was more demanding than the "merely more than de minimis" test proffered by the school district and applied by the 10th Circuit.  (Interestingly, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was responsible for that 10th Circuit decision.)  The Court also noted that every student's program must be appropriately ambitious and every student should have the chance to meet challenging objectives.

Under the new standard, for a child who is fully integrated into a regular education classroom, appropriate progress will typically mean passing marks and advancement from grade to grade (discussed further below).  For a child who is not fully integrated into a regular education classroom, however, the amount of progress that a child should be making according to his/her IEP will depend on the child's unique circumstances.

The Court was unwilling, however, to adopt the "equal opportunity" standard proposed by Endrew F.'s parents.  That is, the Court was unwilling to define FAPE as "an education that aims to provide a child with a disability opportunities to achieve academic success, attain self-sufficiency, and contribute to society that are substantially equal to the opportunities afforded children without disabilities."  Although the legislative intent of the IDEA makes clear that Congress did mean for students with disabilities to have opportunities to achieve academic success, attain self-sufficiency, and contribute to society, the Court was unwilling to require those opportunities to be substantially equal to the opportunities afforded children without disabilities.

The Court refused to establish a bright-line rule or elaborate on what appropriate program would look like in each case.  As a result, the definition of "appropriate" will likely continue to be the source of much litigation between parents and school districts.  

Finally, as I alluded to above, the Court specifically noted that there may be instances where a child is enrolled in a regular education environment, obtaining passing marks, and advancing from grade to grade, but still not be receiving FAPE (see footnote on page 14 of the decision).  Take, for instance, the case of a twice exceptional (2E) student who is intellectually gifted, obtaining passing marks with little effort, and being promoted from grade to grade.  If that 2E student's curriculum is not appropriately ambitious in light of his/her exceptional needs and abilities, it could be that the school district is not providing that student with FAPE.  Time will tell how administrative law judges and courts are going to deal with this kind of situation.

In light of the foregoing, the 10th Circuit's decision was vacated, and the case was remanded for further consideration consistent with the Supreme Court's decision.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Nosh & Knowledge at Cardozo Law School

Last week I had the pleasure of participating as the featured speaker in Cardozo Law School's Nosh & Knowledge program.  The program is intended as an informal dialogue between practitioners and law students to introduce students to different practice areas.

I met with 1L's, 2L's, and 3L's and spoke with them about the field of special education law.  I provided an overview of the field and described the nature of our legal practice.  We also discussed recent trends and developments, and opportunities for aspiring special education lawyers.  The students were engaged and enthusiastic, and asked thoughtful questions.

For those at Cardozo who may be interested in special education law, I would strongly encourage you to look into Cardozo's special education field clinic, which gives students the opportunity to complete an externship program at Advocates For Children.

Additionally, we are accepting applications for summer and fall internships at our law firm.  Interested candidates can forward their cover letters and resumes to info@dayanlawfirm.com.  

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dear Evan Hansen

I've seen Dear Evan Hansen twice so far (off-Broadway when it debuted, and recently on Broadway).  Without giving anything away, the show revolves around a high school boy trying to find himself and deals with important issues concerning identity, self-esteem, and fitting in.  I enjoyed the show immensely both times but I have been struggling to put my finger on why the show has affected me so profoundly on both a personal and professional level.  

On a personal level, I think it conjures up memories of teenage angst.  I wince sometimes when I think about how much "fitting in" mattered in high school.  How much your identity was wrapped up in who your friends were and how they perceived you.  I remember my own angst and anxiety and feeling a sense of helplessness in figuring out how to cope with them.

Most people are able to emerge from that place of teenage angst.  They strengthen their sense of self, learn how to self-advocate and cope, and find themselves eventually.  But some don't.  And sometimes the feeling of being overwhelmed by angst, anxiety, disconnection, and despair can be so crippling that it results in tragedy.  Dear Evan Hansen confronts that fact.

On a professional level, I think the show reinforced my commitment to my work.  As an attorney who represents individuals with special needs, I am fortunate to be in a position to be able to help people who struggle with the kinds of emotional and social issues that are central to Dear Evan Hansen by assisting them in obtaining the kinds of supports/services that can help them address their challenges and learn how to move forward.

Dear Evan Hansen connected with my childhood self as well as my adult self.  The result was a powerful experience that has left a lasting impression.  Thank you Ben Platt and the rest of the incredible Dear Evan Hansen cast for bringing this story to the stage.