Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

How Do You Do Intakes Currently?
Due to COVID 19, all of our intakes are done remotely via ZOOM. Once an intake is scheduled with our intake coordinator, Tami Kuipers, she will email you a link for the Zoom call.
Can I Set Up an Intake with Matt Cohen?
Once we’ve received a call, you speak with our intake coordinator, Tami Kuipers, who gathers information from you and determines if the issue is something we can assist you with. She will explain our intake process, any fees, and what documents will be needed for review. She will then find a date and time for the intake, email you a ZOOM link for the intake and another email with our intake packet and a list of any documents we will want to see attached.
What Do You Practice?
We practice education, special education, disability and mental health law. We assist parents regarding their students, IEPs, 504 plans, disciplinary problems, expulsions, residential placements and mental health hospitalizations. We also advise clinicians on setting up and running their practices and making sure their paperwork is compliant.
Where Are You Located?
Our office is located in downtown Chicago right near Millennium Park. We are conveniently located close to Metra and the El and Subway. Parking is closest in the Millennium Park garage off of Michigan Avenue.
In What States Do You Practice?
We cover the entire state of Illinois and one of our attorneys is licensed in Michigan. However, we only take Michigan cases on a limited basis due to logistical issues. We do some work in collar counties of Indiana, Wisconsin or Missouri on a case-by-case basis, as well as in other states, but doing so requires local counsel.
Is There a Statute of Limitations?
Clients are advised that there is a two-year statute of limitations that is generally applied in special education cases. This is subject to interpretation but conservatively means that cases generally cannot be brought, nor relief obtained, that are based on allegations that occurred more than two years prior to the date that parent requests a special education due process hearing.

Special Education FAQ

Do I have a right to Consent for Evaluation? What is the timeline for Completion of an Evaluation?
Your child can only receive special education if you sign a formal written consent for testing, after being told what tests the school proposes to conduct. If you agree, you will be asked to sign a consent for evaluation. Once you have done that, the the evaluation is supposed to be completed and an eligibility meeting held to discuss the evaluation within 60 school days. If the school determines that the child is eligible for special education, you also have to agree and again sign a written consent. The school must develop an IEP for the child within 30 days of the date that they are made eligible.
What is the difference between Emotional Disorder (ED) and Other Health Impaired (OHI)
When determining eligibility for a student displaying difficulty controlling their behavior, disrupting the classroom or acting in other ways that are inappropriate, schools are likely to focus on the categories of Other Health Impaired and Emotional Disability. If a child has ADHD, (or perhaps even an anxiety disorder or bi-polar), it is more appropriate to look at the Other Health Impaired (OHI) label.

OHI is generally less stigmatizing than Emotional Disability and is less likely to result in the student being tracked into a classroom or program with other students with emotional and behavioral disorders.
OHI covers students that have a health impairment (including ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, Seizure Disorders, Sickle Cell Anemia and other disorders) that resulted in limited strength vitality or alertness including limited alertness to educational tasks due to heightened alertness to environmental stimuli.

ED is not based on having to have a mental health diagnosis, but rather that the student displays behaviors, such as inability to have appropriate peer or adult relationships, or inappropriate thoughts or feelings under normal circumstances.

What Happens When a Student Moves to a New School or New State?
If you move to a new District, the new District can accept the prior District’s IEP or perform a new evaluation and write a new IEP. If you disagree with the District’s recommendation, you can file a Due Process complaint and if it is timely filed, the District would be required to implement the previous IEP or a program that is comparable until the issue is resolved.
Compensatory Education
You can seek compensatory educational services from a District when it failed to provide the student a free appropriate public education and the student suffered significant loss as a result. , You need to support your claim with information, often including from clinical evaluations, that identify what the student needed and the resulting damage. Compensatory education is most often provided through additional instructional time or services.

While Districts should consider the issue of compensatory education with respect to remote learning, they are required to assess each case individually. The more severe the disabilities, the more likely that the student would qualify for compensatory education, but it is too early to say how Districts will assess the need for it and what they will be offering, if anything, once school returns. It is also likely that the federal and state government may issue guidance about the potential right to receive compensatory education and limit its availability.

Is There a Statute of Limitations?
Each state has one, with the amount of time varying by state. Illinois has a two year statute of limitations within which you must file a complaint to seek relief from the District for its failure to provide a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”). The time begins to run when the parents knew or should have known that the District denied the student FAPE or that a violation of the IDEA occurred. Any complaint has to substantiate what the student needed as well as what the school failed to provide. The relief sought is generally in the form of compensatory education or additional education time based upon the amount of time that the “student” did not receive an appropriate education or the qualitative impact of the missed services.

Billing Questions

Do We Charge for Phone Calls?
Yes, we do charge for telephone time. Considering how much of our day is consumed by phone calls, it is a necessity. Furthermore, some of our clients have objected to being billed for calls which we receive from third parties regarding their case. As a general rule, we cannot control this and will bill for all calls received on a case. If you anticipate, for instance, that a family member or some other party (a school administrator, a physician, or such) may run up your bill unnecessarily, please let us know and we will do what we can to minimize or eliminate such calls.
Billing Questions or Errors?
We provide rather detailed billing information which is computerized. Occasionally we have had a problem with the incorrect entry of data or the entry against the wrong “Smith” or “Jones” where we have clients with the same last names. Please feel free to call Tami Kuipers if you have a question about your bill and we will either verify or correct a charge as soon as possible.
Do You Charge for Travel Time?
Yes, we do charge for travel time to meetings. Some of our clients prefer to meet in their own offices or homes or their matter requires that we go to a Suburban School location or such. We always attempt to accommodate our clients’ needs, but you should know that the attorney “sells time” and travel time will be invoiced.
Do You Bill for Record Review, Chronologies and Organization of the Records?
If your matter is one relating to special education for your child, it is to be understood that as a part of our representation, a member of the staff may be assigned to develop a chronology of important events for the child involved and/or to organize the file. Charges for these services will be billed at established hourly rates and will be added to your regular bill.
While Districts should consider the issue of compensatory education with respect to remote learning, they are required to assess each case individually. The more severe the disabilities, the more likely that the student would qualify for compensatory education, but it is too early to say how Districts will assess the need for it and what they will be offering, if anything, once school returns. It is also likely that the federal and state government may issue guidance about the potential right to receive compensatory education and limit its availability.
Are There Expenses Associated with Records and/or my Case? How Long do you Keep a Copy of the Records? Can I Have a Copy of the Records?
Client shall be expected to pay the costs of the representation, including such items as, but not limited to: court filing fees, certified court copies of documents, copying charges, expert witness fees, investigator’s fees, outside messenger’s charges per their customary rates, in-house copying charges, incoming and outgoing tax transmissions, long distance telephone charges, express or certified mail charges, and the like. Client agrees to reimburse attorney for time advanced on behalf of the client. In any event, all costs in connection with client’s cause of action shall be paid by client. Periodic statements of expenditures shall be sent to client and billed separately from attorneys’ fees. All records are scanned and saved to the firms online data management system where they will be kept for seven years from the completion of the case. Records are available to the client and can be shared if requested. The firm will provide the client with a link that is good for one year from the date shared.
Are There Expenses Associated with Records and/or my Case? How Long do you Keep a Copy of the Records? Can I Have a Copy of the Records?
Client shall be expected to pay the costs of the representation, including such items as, but not limited to: court filing fees, certified court copies of documents, copying charges, expert witness fees, investigator’s fees, outside messenger’s charges per their customary rates, in-house copying charges, incoming and outgoing tax transmissions, long distance telephone charges, express or certified mail charges, and the like. Client agrees to reimburse attorney for time advanced on behalf of the client. In any event, all costs in connection with client’s cause of action shall be paid by client. Periodic statements of expenditures shall be sent to client and billed separately from attorneys’ fees. All records are scanned and saved to the firms online data management system where they will be kept for seven years from the completion of the case. Records are available to the client and can be shared if requested. The firm will provide the client with a link that is good for one year from the date shared.