Special Education and Inclusion
“Inclusion is a right, not a privilege for a select few.”
Gilbert Law is the leading Tennessee law firm for handling all aspect of special education disputes with schools. We represent children in pre-school, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, and beyond.
We represent children with autism, Down syndrome, diabetes, epilepsy, fine and gross motor limitations, children with severe emotional needs, victims of abuse, and countless other disabilities.
Our work in this area is unparalleled and includes the following reported cases among countless others:
Restraints, Isolations, and Seclusion
Gilbert Law opened the doors for children unlawfully restrained at school, and for student held too long in isolations and seclusion. Gilbert Law is responsible for the first court decisions finding in favor of children under a subset of the state special education laws and the IDEA known as the Special Education Behavior Supports Act (SEBSA). Gilbert Law has worked to ensure this law is implemented at the District Level and State Level, and has obtained verdicts and settlements requiring payment of damages to affected children. Our cases include children kept too long in a "cell" area; "fenced" in with a gym mat, detained in windowless rooms, and subjected to a restraint chair that kept the child from moving.
Abuse and Severe Bullying in Schools
Where bullying of a student/child is known by the school, repeated, and causes psychological harm, Gilbert Law will represent the student/child. Actions may include negligence and personal injury claims, Title IX claims, and claims under Section 504 and the ADA. We have represented children who have been bullied, those with disabilities and those without, in obtaining a health educational environment and damages for psychological harm.
Due Process Under IDEA; Section 504 and the ADA
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) guarantees qualified disabled children free, appropriate public education (FAPE). An objective of IDEA and IEPs are to meet the unique needs of each disabled child, prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living, and to accomplish this in one’s "least restrictive environment," presumptively the neighborhood schools rather than in specialized schools or institutions.
The IDEA affords a number of rights including:
- The opportunity for parents to review their child’s full educational records
- Parental participation in IEP team meetings and placement decisions
- Prior written notice of IEP changes
- The right of parents to request independent educational evaluations at public expense
- Due process hearings
- Mediation funded by the state education agency
- Federal lawsuits where the outcome of a due process hearing or mediation is unsatisfactory to either the parent or the school
Some students who do not qualify under the IDEA may qualify under Section 504 and the ADA. Together, these laws provide many of the same rights as the IDEA including a least restrictive placement, non-discrimination rights, and an appropriate education plan for the child’s needs. In some situations, Section 504 and the ADA allow an action for monetary loss (damages) against the school system.
We represent not only children, but teachers too. This includes teachers who have blown the whistle on child abuse, refusal by school administrators to follow the law, funding malfeasance, or retaliation against teachers for supporting children at school. We have obtained reinstatement of teachers, damages for teachers, and corrected wrongs inside the schoolhouse.
In addition, we have represented teachers wrongfully discharged from school, teachers who have experienced sexual harassment, and teachers forced to engage in unlawful activities against their will. For more about employment rights of teachers, see the Employment Law Page.
Gender & Race Discrimination, Bullying and Violence
Title IX is a federal law designed to prevent and protect males and female students from harassment, bullying, and violence due to sex. Often, Title IX is considered in the context of equalizing sports opportunities for females. It is that, but more too. Title IX extends to all genders, protecting persons against many types of unequal treatment due to one’s sex. Gilbert Law has handled cases involving elementary students, students with disabilities, and colleges students under Title IX.
These cases range from abuse of young student(s) by teachers in authority, to "peer on peer" bullying cases in public school, to cases of sexual violence perpetrated inside and outside the schoolhouse, to hazing rituals, to threats of violence in digital form (texting, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.), to failure to protect children in vulnerable positions.
Gilbert Law has obtained millions in recovery due to the physical and psychological harm these cases often extoll. In the last year alone, Gilbert Law has handled three cases involving rape, two at the university level, one at the high school level, with other such projects pending.
In addition to Title IX, a lesser known law, Title VI, prohibits racial discrimination and harassment in public schools. Gilbert Law has avenged the rights of minorities against racial bullying, taunting, and discriminatory treatment based upon race.