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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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.