Before hiring an advocate, please consider the following. First, unlike attorneys, there are no licensing or certification requirements to become an advocate. Therefore, an “advocate” can be anyone from a retired Special Education Teacher, to a parent that has personally experienced the system with their own child. Second, while advocates are a cheaper and less confrontational choice than an attorney, they are not licensed to practice law in any state. Therefore, before you hire an advocate, please consider posing the following questions:
- What is their experience with Special Education advocacy? (length of time? Number of Cases? Age of students? Disabilities represented?)
- How do they believe you should proceed? What will you do? How long will it take?
- What involvement will they need/want from you?
- How do they communicate regularly with parents?
- How much do they charge? How much of a retainer do they require?
- When your case is finished, what happens to the documents they have collected?
- Will I be comfortable working with this person?
- Am I confident this advocate has the knowledge and experience I am looking for?
- Do I understand and agree with this advocates recommendations?
- Do I feel like this advocate respects my input? Do I feel comfortable politely disagreeing with this advocate?
- Do I understand and am I comfortable with this advocates fees and billing?
I graduated from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor’s in Special Education, and a Master’s in Behavior Disorders. I worked as a high school Emotional Support Teacher for 12 years, prior to getting my supervisor certificate from Penn State. I worked as a Special Education Supervisor up until I moved to Maryland in October, 2013.
In my 25 years of experience, I have: participated in hundreds of IEP meetings; implemented individualized services for thousands of students; and participated in dozens of due process cases. As a result, I am very familiar with the policies, procedures, services; and potential road blocks parents may encounter in their search for appropriate services and programs.
In addition to my professional experience, I am also the father of two boys on the Spectrum. I know all too well what it feels like to: receive that diagnosis for the first time; work to learn all that you can about your child’s unique learning needs; try and educate and motivate school staff; passionately advocate for services (FAPE); get over emotional in IEP meetings; and fight vehemently with the school system to get the services you feel that your child deserves.
I am honored that you are considering my services, and I am committed to earning your trust. Based upon my professional and personal experience, I will consistently strive to provide you with individualized, experienced, professional, and empathetic advocacy services until such time as you are comfortable moving forward independently.