Law Blog

Getting Your Child an IEP

If your child has recently been diagnosed with a disability, you might wonder how to get them an IEP or what an IEP is. It is totally normal to have questions about getting your child an IEP and what to do if your school is not making an IEP for your child. In this post we are going to go over, what an IEP is, getting your child an IEP, what to expect during the meeting, and how to advocate for them if the school fails to act.

What is an IEP?

An IEP stands for Individualized Educational Plan. All students who receive special education services have to have one. 

It will look different from case to case, but generally, all IEPs include a description of your child’s disability classification, current level of functioning, and goals knowledgable professionals feel your child should work towards in the next year. 

It may also include any accommodations your child needs to function in the classroom. Such as headphones to reduce noise, wheelchair accessibility, written directions, graphic organizers, and much more. 

Getting Your Child an IEP

You cannot request your child receive an IEP without an official diagnosis. However, you can request the school evaluate your child. Evaluations can show if they have a condition that qualifies them for an IEP.

Your school can also recommend assessments on its own. Please note, however, the school needs your consent to assess your child. All assessments should be done in your child’s first language.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) here are thirteen different classifications for IEPs

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Deafness
  • Physical Disability
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Specific Learning Disability 
  • Speech and Language Impairment
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Visual Impairment 
  • Emotional Disturbance
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Other Health Impairment

The assessment your school should provide at no cost to you will depend on your child’s specific considerations. If a diagnosis is made, your school must hold an IEP meeting.

For more information on what to expect from the assessment and evaluations, click here!

What to Expect at the Meeting

You will attend the meeting, along with everyone who works with your child and a district representative. Everyone will need to sign an attendance page.

You are also free to bring any advocates or lawyers to the meeting if you choose. 

At this meeting, everyone will discuss how your child performs in various environments in the school, as well as their development, and any other relevant indicators of their growth and progress. 

Service providers for your child will also review what goals they want added to the IEP, as well as any accommodations needed to ensure your child’s education and safety.

Remember You are in Charge

It can be intimidating for many parents to sit in these meetings, surrounded by professionals who are telling you something. 

If you disagree with them, want something added or taken out, speak up and express your concerns. This is your child, and they cannot provide any special education services or work towards any goals without your consent.

If you have concerns about the IEP, you do not have to sign it and can have it looked over by another professional or advocate.

What if the school won’t help?

If your school is refusing to evaluate your child, craft an IEP for him/her, or uphold the IEP, that can be a sign of discrimination.  

Federal Civil Rights Laws protect children with disabilities. As organizations that receive federal funding, schools must comply with all civil rights laws. 

Be on the lookout for other signs of discrimination. 

Click here to download our free signs of discrimination checklist. 

When to Contact a Lawyer

We at Cueto Law help families who feel their child is being discriminated against based on their disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, and more. 

Keep a log of all incidents that cause you to suspect discriminatory practices by your school. Also, save all correspondence between yourself and the school staff. Take notes during any meetings and phone calls you have.

Make sure to download our free discrimination checklist to make sure you know what to look for. 

If your child’s school is discriminating against them, call us at 618-277-1554.

When to be Concerned About Bullying at School

Sadly children are often bullied in school, and it is perfectly normal for parents to be concerned about what is going on at their children’s school. When should you be concerned about bullying at school? When does bullying go from something that happens in schools to creating a hostile environment? 

Really, when you’re a parent, if your child is being bullied at school you’re going to be concerned. That is totally normal and nothing to be ashamed of. They’re your child, of course, you don’t want them to be bullied. 

The bigger concern is when does bullying go from a normal childhood problem to creating a hostile environment that impacts your child’s health and safety. 

What is Normal Bullying?

There is no definition for “normal bullying” because bullying is not something we as a society want to normalize. 

There is however a normal way to respond to bullying. 

Schools can prevent bullying by creating a safe environment. Schools can also stop bullying by taking swift action when bullying occurs, through enforcing clearly defined rules consistently for children and offering counseling services to affected children.

Click here for more information. 

What to Do if Your Child is Being Bullied

If your child reports being bullied, immediately alert their teachers and other relevant staff members at your child’s school.

Take note of how your school responds and the effectiveness of the strategies they implemented.

When to Be Concerned About Bullying at School

Since there is no such thing as “normal bullying,” chances are you will be concerned the whole time. That is perfectly understandable. 

You should be concerned about bullying if your child’s school fails to respond to the bullying or even makes it worse. 

If the school does not take meaningful action and the problem persists without intervention, it can create a hostile learning environment for your child. 

Long term this can have negative impacts on your child and cause problems such as 

  • Cutting or Avoiding School
  • Not signing up for extracurriculars
  • Disrupted learning
  • Declining grades
  • Anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts

If your child is experiencing a severe mental health crisis and you fear they may hurt themselves or others call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Your child’s school has to take allegations of bullying seriously, as it can impact your child in such a severe manner if left unchecked. 

If they fail to do so or even encourage bullying through treating your child differently, that can be a form of discrimination. 

What does the Law Say?

The United States has no federal law that dictates what a school has to do if someone is being bullied.

However, schools receive government funding. All government-funded organizations must comply with federal civil rights laws. 

If the bullying is based on your child’s disability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious background, or nationality and the school does nothing, this is considered a discriminatory practice. 

For more information please click here.

What to do if they don’t Respond

If your school does not respond to bullying, be on the lookout for other signs of discriminatory practices in the school.

Download our free signs of discrimination checklist.

Begin advocating for your child’s well-being. You’ll have to talk to the staff about discrimination against children with special needs. Check out our blog post for tips and tricks!

You should also begin keeping track of all instances of bullying and your attempts to contact the school staff and administrations about the issue. Make sure to keep track of other discriminatory practices your child experiences in the building.

When to Call a Lawyer

If you are concerned that bullying at school is violating your child’s civil rights you should call a personal injury. A lawyer will be able to discuss the specifics of your case and what your legal options are.

We at Cueto Law are always happy to take your call at 618-277-1554.

Fighting Discrimination Against Kids with Special Needs

Sadly discrimination against children with disabilities is something that still happens, despite the numerous civil rights laws designed to prevent it. 

Discrimination against children with disabilities can disrupt their learning, which can be very distressing. Children with special needs already have struggles learning, and their school environment should not be creating additional obstacles for them to overcome. 

Discrimination in schools can be subtle. To learn the common signs, please check out this blog post! 

Once you realize the discrimination is happening there are several steps you as a concerned parent should of course take. We here at Cueto Law have compiled a list of common ones, that we are happy to share with you.

Download our free checklist to take our tips and tricks on the go with you!

Document all Incidents of Discrimination

When you are trying to fix the issue with teachers, staff, and school administrators you want to have specific examples in mind of what you’re talking about. 

Keep a record of what you’re talking about to demonstrate to the school that this is an ongoing issue. These documentations can be writing down dates and times your child told you about instances of bullying, arguments with teachers, or any time someone created a hostile environment for them.

Additionally, documentation may look like harshly graded schoolwork or records of excessive punishment. It can really be anything that indicates your child is being subjected to a hostile learning environment because of their disability. 

You want to keep your own records. Do not rely on the school to do so.

Start with the Teachers

Anytime you have a concern with your child’s learning environment or school life you should start with the teachers. If your child is in elementary school this can be their classroom teacher. If in middle school or high school, it can be the teacher closest to the incidents in question. 

Start with emails, and keep them short and brief, and specific. Teachers are busy people who tend to skim emails out of necessity. 

Be firm but polite. Don’t back down because this is about your child’s wellbeing.

Keep all responses and what they say they will do about it. 

If emails go unnoticed or no follow-through action is taken, ask to schedule a meeting. Remember to not be openly hostile, as this will make people less likely to want to work with you.

Go Up the Food Chain

If the teachers cannot or are unable or unwilling to help, you can start the same process over again with the special education director at the school or the principal. 

Don’t get frustrated. Fighting discrimination against kids with special needs takes time.

Schedule meetings and calls and present your concerns and what you have that demonstrates a pattern of discrimination.

Common Questions to ask Administrator 

  • What is the school’s policy on special education and discrimination?
  • Do you require professional development seminars on antibias and nondiscriminatory practices?
  • What training does the school offer to teachers and staff about special education?
  • Do you offer additional services that can better help my child function in the school?
  • What concrete steps do you plan on taking to make the school environment less hostile towards my child?

Take notes during the meeting on all responses and document what action the administrator takes or fails to take after the meeting. 

What does the law say?

There is no federal law that dictates what a school has to do if someone is being bullied or discriminated against.

However, schools receive government funding. Any organization that is funded by the government must comply with federal civil rights laws. 

If bullying, harsh grading, or excessive punishments are based on your child’s disability, and the school does nothing, this is considered a discriminatory practice. 

For more information please click here.

What Else Can I do?

If school administrators are still ignoring you, you have a few options. You can go up to the district level to express your concerns and contact your superintendent directly.

Make sure to download our free checklist to take these tips and tricks with you on the go!

You can also contact a lawyer to go over the specifics of your discrimination case. We at Cueto Law offer free consultations and do not charge for our services unless we win your case. You can call us at 618-277-1554 to discuss specifics.

Autism and Discrimination

Historically speaking, it was common practice to keep children with disabilities like autism out of schools. We now know that is a form of discrimination, and there are civil rights laws that give students with autism the right to attend school. Sadly, just because we have those laws, does not mean people follow them. Often children with autism face discrimination in school.

If you have a child with autism, you want them to get the best education possible, and that can be challenging enough without dealing with prejudiced school districts and staff. 

If you believe your child is being discriminated against in school, that is a serious problem.

Download our free checklist to see what signs of discrimination are happening at your school.

How Do I Know if My Child is Being Discriminated Against?

Discrimination is not always obvious, especially these days. However, there are things to look out for. 

  • Are school staff refusing to make a 504 plan or IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) for your child?
  • If your child has a 504 or IEP, is it being implemented or ignored?
  • Is staff not doing anything to prevent bullying for your child?
  • Are they refusing to make simple accommodations?
  • Do they hold only your child to unreasonably high behavioral standards?
  • Do your child’s grades not reflect their performance?
  • Does staff continually suggest your child should switch schools?
  • Are they singling your child out?
  • Is your child being excluded or singled out from the rest of the class?
  • How do administrators respond to your concerns? With compassion or indifference?
  • What kind of environment is the school creating for your child to learn in? Is it hostile?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then your school might be discriminating against your child with autism. 

What does the law say?

There is no federal law that dictates what a school has to do if someone is being bullied.

However, schools receive government funding. Any organization that is funded by the government must comply with federal civil rights laws. 

If the bullying is based on your child’s autism, and the school does nothing, this is considered a discriminatory practice. 

For more information please click here.

What should I do?

If you think your child with autism is facing discrimination in school, download our free checklist and begin documenting any incidents of discrimination.

Keep a log of all times your student was bullied and what the school staff did in response. Also, keep track of any concerning incidents your child talks about at school. Save all communication with the school, including notes home, emails, and graded assignments if applicable. 

Your lawyer will want this information to determine what legal options you have. You can also call Cueto Law at 618-277-1554 to discuss the specifics of your case, for free!

Is your School Discriminating?

Did you know that your child’s school is legally required to comply with all federal civil rights laws? This means that your school cannot discriminate against your child or exclude them due to disabilities. It also means teachers and staff have to respond to all incidents of bullying and make the school environment a safe place for children to learn.

Did you have to fight to get your school to create an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for your child? Now that they have to do it, do staff often ignore it? Are your child’s teachers refusing to make reasonable accommodations to make the school space more accessible? 

These are all signs of discrimination against people with disabilities, which is a very serious matter.

Download our free checklist to see what signs of discrimination are happening at your school.

What does the law say?

There is no federal law that dictates what a school has to do if someone is being bullied.

However, schools receive government funding. Any organization that is funded by the government must comply with federal civil rights laws. 

If the bullying is based on your child’s autism, and the school does nothing, this is considered a discriminatory practice. 

For more information please click here.

How do I know if my school is discriminating?

Sadly there is no clear way to determine if discrimination is happening. It can be subtle at times, but if you’re wondering if the school is discriminating against your child, then chances are something is wrong. 

Be on the lookout for signs of discrimination, some of which include

  • Difficulty getting staff to make a 504 or IEP
  • Ignoring accommodations in your 504 or IEP
  • Imposing harsh punishments or unreasonable standards on your child
  • Ignoring your child in class
  • Suggesting your child or multiple children with disabilities relocate to another school
  • Singling out your child negatively in front of others
  • Create a hostile learning environment 

Take note of how school administration officials respond when you alert them to the problem.

If they seem hostile or as though they are blaming your child for being bullied, that should be a red flag. 

Make sure to download our free signs of discrimination checklist!

What Should I Do?

You only what is best for your child, and no kid should have to deal with discrimination in a place they are expected to learn.

Make sure to download our free signs of discrimination checklist and call us at 618-277-1554 to discuss the specifics of your case for free.

Autism and Bullying

Officials used to ban children with autism from schools. Advocates fought for years to get equality for people with disabilities. Now that students on the autism spectrum are in schools, teachers and staff have an obligation to make it a safe space for them. If you have a child with autism who is being bullied, your school is legally required to take action.

Sadly, being bullied is a common occurrence for students on the spectrum. However, if the school demonstrates apathy or even takes action to worsen the bullying, it is a form of discrimination.

What does the law say?

No federal law dictates how a school must respond to bullying.

However, schools receive government funding. Any organization that is funded by the government must comply with federal civil rights laws. 

If the bullying is based on your child’s autism, and the school does nothing, the law considers that discrimination.

For more information please click here.

How do I know if the school is taking action?

As there is no federal law around bullying, how schools respond might vary. 

Common actions might include

  • Inquiries into individual incidents
  • Discussing how to deal with bullying with affected students
  • Checking in with students to make sure harassment has ended
  • Appropriate interventions to resolve hostile environments

Take note of how school administration officials respond when you alert them to the problem.

If they seem hostile or as though they are blaming your child for being bullied, that should be a red flag. 

Do schools ever make the problem worse?

Yes, sadly. Schools can sometimes make the bullying worse.

Children are very adept at picking up on actions by adults. If students notice that a teacher is often snapping at, short with, or cruel to a student with autism, they might think it is acceptable to bully a child with a disability.

Cueto Law handles cases where we believe schools worsened bullying for students with autism.

Legal options will vary from case to case. If your school and teachers are discriminating against your child begin documenting all incidents of discrimination and keep a record of communication you have with the staff.

To discuss the specifics of your case visit the Cueto Law website and call us at 618-277-1554 for a free consultation.

When To Call A Personal Injury Lawyer

It’s hard for people to know when to call a personal injury lawyer. Sometimes people might think you should only call a personal injury lawyer if you’ve been in a car crash, but in reality, a personal injury attorney can help with much more than car crashes.

A personal injury lawyer really is there to help their clients gain financial compensation for damage suffered to their physical, emotional, or financial wellbeing, as well as for any damage their property sustained. 

This area of law is called torts, and it covers a lot of different kinds of injuries and damages. 

What exactly is a tort?

A tort is commonly defined as an act or omission that causes injury or harm to another being, where the responsible party is liable in court for the damage they cause. 

It essentially amounts to if a person, company, or organization causes harm or injury to a person, either through direct action or negligence, the person they harmed can sue them for monetary compensation in court. 

For more information click here.

What is considered harm or injury?

This area of law can be confusing, and it is always important to run your individual case by a knowledgeable lawyer. 

There are different kinds of harm or injury that can fall under tort law. Typically, if you or a loved one suffered damage physically, emotionally, or financially, it falls under torts. Additionally, if your property was significantly damaged that can be classified as a tort. 

What are Some Examples?

Physical damage is what people most often think of when it’s time to call a personal injury lawyer. That can be your car crashes, workplace injuries, and medical malpractice. 

Additionally, there is an area of torts law called toxic torts having to do with environmental pollution causing illness or damage to someone’s physical well-being.

To learn about a recent case Cueto Law handled in the area of toxic torts that resulted in a 72.2 million dollar verdict click here! 

Emotional damage comes from when a client suffers extreme stress. It can occur with both another kind of damage or on its own. Emotional damage can also come from the violation of someone’s civil rights.

An example of a case Cueto Law is handling regarding emotional damage is a school bullying case. To learn more about what your child’s school is legally required, click here. 

Property Damage is when the responsible party causes damage to things you own as well as land or dwellings. This can occur not just through fires or complete destruction.

One example is if you take a product into your home that causes damage to your home or other property due to a manufacturer or design defect. This is an example of product liability.

Financial Damage is when the plaintiff has to pay to fix any of the damage caused by the responsible party. This can include medical bills, therapy bills, the replacement of property, and much more. 

It is how courts determine the liability of the responsible person, organization or company. This is how we help prove what damages clients are entitled to.

For more information on how the court calculates damage click here!

When to Call a Personal Injury Lawyer

If your property has suffered damage or your emotional, physical, or financial health has been impacted because of others, then you can call a personal injury lawyer for a consultation. 

At Cueto Law, we handle much more than car crashes and medical malpractice. We take great pride in helping people who have been harmed by others, get justice. 

Call us at 618-277-1554 for a free consultation. 

How do the Courts Calculate Damages?

Have you ever heard in the news about people getting large verdicts in lawsuits and wondered how someone decided on that number? In reality juries, lawyers, and the court put a lot of thought into how much to calculate damages. 

Recently Cueto Law helped win a 72.5 million dollar verdict against Cerro Flow, a copper smelting plant in East Saint Louis. For more information click here. 

The first thing that probably hits you is the size of the number, but it is actually more than just large.

We put in a lot of time and effort into calculating how much to ask for in damages.

What are Damages?

Damages are what lawyers call harm or injury inflicted on a person’s being, property, or life that was caused by a responsible party. 

If we look at the Cerro Flow case the responsible party was Cerro Flow. They released pollutants into the air, which caused cancer in 12 of our clients. That would be the damages.

Filing a lawsuit against a company or organization is saying they caused you harm or damages, and you are owed a certain amount of money to make up for that harm.

To read more about the different kinds of damages, click here.

How do you figure out how much money is owed?

A big factor in damages is that they caused financial stress and/or physical harm. However, the verdicts clients are awarded are not based on feelings of how bad the damage was. There is a lot of hard numbers and math involved. 

Let’s consider the Cerro Flow example again. How did the courts get to 72.2 million dollars? 

Cancer, in addition to being a disease that can devastate families, can also cause financial hardships. The money our clients will get from the verdict is meant to compensate them for any out-of-pocket costs. These include travel expenses for treatments they had to pay and lost income from being unable to work due to their diagnosis. 

Essentially any expense they had to endure as a direct result of their cancer, Cerro Flow was liable for since it was the corporation that caused the cancer. 

What if I’ve been harmed?

If you have been injured or harmed by an organization, keep all receipts, invoices, and estimates of related expenses or lost income.

Give them to your lawyer. They will help prove you are entitled to compensation.

Also remember, at Cueto Law, you do not have to pay for our services unless we win your case. Call us at 618-277-1554. 

Seventh Amendment: Right to a Jury

The Bill of Rights is considered one of the most sacred documents in the United States, and in that document, the founding fathers took steps to guarantee that generations of Americans would have a right to seek justice. The seventh amendment guarantees citizens a right to a jury, not just in criminal cases, but civil cases as well.

Sometimes people are reluctant to sue companies or organizations who have wronged them because they don’t want to be seen as “one of those people.”

But we here at Cueto Law want you to know that there is nothing to be ashamed of. Our founding fathers built the right to civil litigation into the Bill of Rights and availing yourself of the courts is no different than utilizing freedom of speech. 

What does the Seventh Amendment say exactly?

Word for word the seventh amendment reads,

In Suits at common law where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

7th Amendmenrt, US Bill of Rights

Today the idea of a lawsuit only being over twenty dollars might sound a little silly. Especially given the size of a historic verdict $72 million dollar verdict Cueto Law helped win in St. Clair County, but the important ideas behind the amendment still ring true today.

This amendment is the formal breakdown of the rules of civil trials, and how they are to be carried out. It states that juries shall be in charge of facts, what is true and not true. While courts and lawyers are in charge of the law. 

The jury of peers hears cases and decides what truly happened and who is responsible for damage in civil cases. It is not the court’s place to dispute a jury, as the court does not decide facts, only law. 

It essentially guarantees that decisions will be made by objective peers who cannot be intimidated or overruled. 

For more information on the history of the seventh amendment click here.

What does this mean for Civil Litigation?

This amendment is everything in civil litigation. It is what allows you to sue the companies, people, or organizations that have injured you.

Our founding fathers understood that in order for a society to be free, individuals had to have a method to hold more powerful people or corporations accountable for their actions. 

So if you have been injured due to negligence or actions taken by a person, company, or organization, and those injuries have impacted you financially, as James Madison would say, help secure the liberty of the people and take advantage of the rights granted to you by the seventh amendment. 

If you are in need of a lawyer you can reach Cueto Law by calling 618-277-1554. Remember, you don’t have to pay for our services unless we win. 

$72 Million Verdict Against Cerro Flow

We at Cueto Law believe in working hard for our clients, and we are pleased to say that this October our efforts paid off. Our own, Lloyd M. Cueto helped to get 12 plaintiffs a 72 million dollar verdict against Cerro Flow for emitting dangerous and toxic levels of pollution, causing cancer.

Cerro Flow runs a secondary copper smelting plant in Sauget, IL. The plaintiffs claimed that throughout its 50 years of operation the Cerro Flow plant released dioxins and furans through its furnace and practice of open-pit burning. 

Industrial burning creates dioxins and furans. Over long periods of time, they can cause cancer and more according to the Environmental Protection Agency. For more information click here.

What Happened in Court?

All twelve plaintiffs lived in East St. Louis. Through this long-term exposure, over the course of four decades, they developed cancers of the breast, kidney, bladder, and more. 

Over the course of three weeks, Cueto Law worked tirelessly with Greg Cade from the Environmental Law Group and Roe Frazer from The Frazer Law Firm.

Thanks to all our efforts and a very thoughtful jury, the verdict awarded $48 million in punitive damages and $24 million in compensatory funds to our clients. 

This $72 million dollar verdict against Cerro Flow is the largest in St. Clair County history. 

What’s Next?

Over one thousand cancer patients have filed additional lawsuits against Cerro Flow in the East St. Louis and Cahokia areas. 

Cueto Law is not currently accepting new clients against Cerro Flow. We would be thrilled to represent you in other legal matters. 

We are currently handling cases of fiberglass from mattresses contaminating people’s homes. Click here for more information. 

Call us at 618-277-1554.

In the News

Published in the Alton Telegraph on October 25, 2021

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