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An attorney by definition is someone who is appointed to act for another in legal matters. While an advocate is someone who supports a particular cause - your child. Both work on behalf of your child's educational needs just at different stages of the process.

Attorney Role & Responsibilities

  • Represents your child during any legal action or dispute resolutions with a school district
  • Negotiate with school district on behalf of you and your child
  • Review IEP or 504 plan from legal perspective
  • Provide legal representation in mediation, due process or in an impartial hearing
  • Provide legal representation during discipline proceedings

Advocate Role & Responsibilities

  • Help you navigate special education process
  • Attend meetings with you
  • Advise you about services and supports available to you and your child
  • Help you write letters
  • Help you review an IEP or 504 plan
  • Help you find information about parental rights and the rights of your child
  • Moral support

What does that mean? Well, as you begin your special education journey you will hear a lot about "the process".
This list highlights steps in the process.

1.Identify the student who may be eligible for special education.
A. Evaluate the student to determine needs.
B. Interpret the results of the evaluations by the team. You are an equal member of the team.
C. Review recommendations from the evaluations.
D. If the student is determined eligible for special education services then an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 plan is formed by the team. You are an equal member of the team.

2.If the parent/legal guardian disagrees with results of the evaluations team report you have the right to request an independent educational evaluation (IEE).

An Advocate cannot provide legal advice or legal services. If you believe you need legal advice, please schedule a consultation with Michelle K. McGuire, Esq.