Phillip J. Cohn is the Chairman of the firm’s Education Law Department. This practice focuses on education law, family law, criminal law, and the laws governing children’s rights and special education throughout Connecticut and New York.
This practice involves working closely with parents, schools, courts, and the children fully to understand the nature of a child’s problems, build awareness of the child’s challenges, and propose alternative solutions. This practice assists families in the following areas:
- Education Law: Education law in general involves representing parents and their children in disputes related to schools, boards of education, and students’ rights. An education lawyer helps parents navigate special education, student discipline matters, school bullying, and residency issues. Education lawyers provide the following services:
- Special Education: Special education lawyers propose remedies and negotiate solutions to protect children with special needs, including autism, asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD / ADHD), dyslexia, tourette syndrome, personality disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and depression & anxiety. Our lawyers attend Planning and Placement Team meetings (PPTs), help develop Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and Section 504 Plans, and determine the educational services to which children may be entitled as a result of their disability.
Attorney Cohn and the firm’s staff help families (1) understand whether their child is eligible for special education services under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Section 504 plan; (2) determine if their child is making appropriate educational progress; (3) identify and request the various educational services to which their child may be entitled; and (4) advocate for their child’s rights. We ensure that the child gains access to such appropriate educational programming and placement as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social skills training, assistive technology, preparation for gainful employment, and out-of-district placement, if appropriate.
Attorney Cohn and the firm’s staff work collaboratively with families and school districts to help develop an appropriate educational program for the child, including special education services, extracurricular activities, sports, and other related services. If we cannot reach agreement with the school district, then we represent the client in mediation, due process, and litigation, as appropriate, to protect the child’s rights and procure an appropriate educational program.
- Student Discipline: Today’s strict zero tolerance policies mean that more schools are suspending and expelling students. Police officers now work in many schools, and children can be suspended or expelled even when they are accused of offenses that do not take place on school grounds. Sometimes, the school’s reasons may seem unfair and discriminatory. A suspension or expulsion can start a chain of events that can impact a child for the rest of his or her life. For this reason, our firm aggressively advocates for children facing suspension or expulsion to protect their educational record and future.
- Higher Education: Students in college and other post-secondary schools can face charges of violations of a student code of conduct, academic misconduct, and other disciplinary charges. These charges may lead to removal from university housing, suspension, or permanent expulsion. Our firm defends students facing these charges by advising them of their rights and preparing them for the complicated hearing and/or appeals process. These types of matters include:
- Suspension/Expulsion proceedings
- Academic misconduct (cheating)
- Suspension from University housing
- Accommodations for students with disabilities
- Requests for Education Records; Freedom of Information Act claims
- Juvenile Criminal Matters: It is common for individuals to experience feelings of fear and helplessness in the event they are accused of breaking the law. This fear and helplessness is only amplified when the accused is a child. The firm provides vigorous criminal defense for juveniles and young adults who are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, including but not limited to:
- DUI / DWI / Drunk Driving
- Traffic Offenses
- Drug charges / Drug Possession/ Marijuana or Narcotic Possession
- Assault and Battery
- Domestic Assault and Domestic Violence Crimes
- Property Crimes
- Reckless Endangerment
- Violation of Probation
- Interfering with Police
- Child Custody and Visitation Matters: Protecting the best interests of the child also includes representing children of parents who are divorced or becoming divorced. The firm assists clients in developing custom tailored custody and visitation agreements that take into account a family’s unique circumstances.