A Mom needs your help: Names for education advocate/lawyer

I received a desperate note from a mother on Friday. Her child came to Georgia with a medical diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome and an effective IEP (Individualized Education Plan). Her new school in metro Atlanta is trying to change his diagnosis (not their job) and trying to eliminate her child’s services. She needs help immediately finding an education advocate or a education lawyer to help her fight for her son’s civil rights.

I called the mom to discuss what is going on. I told her I would make some phone calls to try to help her find someone but I would love for you guys to share names if you have used someone successfully. I am sure they are out there. Please let this mom know who you would recommend.

(I have lots to share about house hunting in New Jersey and interviewing schools, but let’s help this mom first! I feel terrible for her.)

16 comments Add your comment


May 11th, 2014
10:58 pm

Sending you an email for an educational consultant who knows this stuff inside and out.

Hope your trip helped ease your mind on the move!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

May 11th, 2014
11:53 pm

Excellent DB — thank you sooo much! I am really feeling for this mom.


May 12th, 2014
5:36 am

I would be interested in what diagnosis the school is trying to change the child to? OHI?

Mother of 2

May 12th, 2014
6:41 am

As if the stress if moving isn’t enough. This poor woman now has to deal with feeling like her child isn’t going to get a good education. This happened to us when we moved to Ga. We decided to enroll him in a private school because he was in high school. His IEP didn’t transfer across state lines, so it had to be rewritten. They made so many changes it just wasn’t worth it for us to experiment. Had my son been in elementary school, I would have been more open to trying something different.

We live in a very good school district in North Fulton, and I was surprised to learn that special Ed was lacking so much. My experience was that the administrators were simply checking boxes. They never communicated with the actual teachers. My experience may not be typical, and if think our timing of the move didn’t help (we moved mid year). Our IEP coordinator was terrible about answering emails or returning phone calls. She has moved to a different school and is now an assistant principal – I was shocked to learn this. I have found that parents of kids who begin the IEP process in elementary school and move through the school district have a much better experience.

I hope this woman can find someone who can help her navigate the system and get her child on the road to a good education. Special Ed is expensive, but not educating our children is much more expensive in the long run.


May 12th, 2014
6:49 am

It seems to be a pattern that teachers ask for desperately needed services for children, have the documentation to show the child needs the services but a pencil pushing supervisor who usually doesn’t even know the child’s name says no. The supervisor has the final say so, it is truly pathetic and the reason I left the special education field. Children should be more than a data point on a spreadsheet.


May 12th, 2014
7:23 am

cobbmom, even worse when it is done in the name of saving money, because someone has decided there are “too many” sped kids!

Related subject: I think the RTI process should BEGIN with hearing and vision exams, followed with an ability test. We waste too much time diddling around for kids who need specialized educational services. Hard as it might be for policymakers to believe, when a kid is having trouble a teacher goes through her whole bag of tricks before starting a referral!

Michele Burdick

May 12th, 2014
7:44 am

I will message you with a name as well, Theresa. Know an excellent advocate in Atlanta. My cousin uses her and has made all sorts of headway with the school system as a result.


May 12th, 2014
8:29 am

Very sorry to hear that this mom is having trouble. I agree with the poster who said if you grow up within the school system, it is easier. We have been fortunate with ours. We have a great support system. Good luck to her and her child!


May 12th, 2014
8:37 am

Dekalb County?

I only ask becaue a friend of mine dealt with their refusal to diagnose her child as Asperger’s. Their insistance was that her daughter was just “different” and needed to mature.

She moved to Cumming a few years ago, and the child was diagnosed within a few months (without a parental request).


May 12th, 2014
1:35 pm

SO the TV show renewal list came out today (yes not at all on this topic)……I went back to October’s blog to see what we had all been excited about….Here is what I found:

The vast majority of the shows we liked in October have been renewed. A few (The Goldbergs and Mom) we were iffy on but they have survived to come back in the fall.

Some favorites (Bones and Parks & Rec) are likely to be in Final Season.

Trophy Wife, MJ Fox Show, The Crazy Ones, and Dads all bit the dust as predicted. Along with Once Upon A Time in Wonderland (Frozen will be coming to Storybrooke though!).

Most everything else we all seemed to enjoy will be back in the fall:

Sleepy Hallow
Brooklyn 99
Amazing Race
Mindy Project
New Girl
Modern Family
Black List
Big Bang
The Millers
Last Man Standing (ok this was totally on the bubble but I love the show)
The Middle

SO enjoy the summer and get the DVR ready for fall

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

May 12th, 2014
7:10 pm

We love to watch the Goldbergs together. The kids think it’s funny and they think I am like the mom. I think it’s good little family lessons. especially like the goonies one and the ka-ra-te one — also the wrestling one.

use to love new girl but hate it now. They need to go away. Love, love, love The Mindy Project. My happiest night of the week.

The millers got funnier — also love Brooklyn 99 although they are swtiching the night. Also watch that one with Walsh.

Rose LOVES Once Upon a Time and was literally yelling during the finale last night — She is very excited about Elsa. Rose and I watch Elementary together. It’s our fix until BBC Sherlock is back.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

May 12th, 2014
10:27 pm

Jarvis — it wasn’t DeKalb but I didn’t want to specify.

Sk8ing Momma

May 13th, 2014
6:48 am

I know this story all too well — Grr! I used to represent low income clients with IEPs.

Has this mom been helped??? Is she low income? If so, I’d recommend that she contact the Georgia Legal Services Program. I’d have her contact GLSP even if she is not low income because it should be able to give her a referral to a private attorney who may be able to help.

In the interim, she has to remain a fierce advocate for her child and NOT back down from what her child is entitled. Please encourage her to hang in there!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

May 13th, 2014
1:24 pm

This advocate’s name was sent to my via email but they said OK to make public. The friend says the school shakes whenever this lady walks in!!! Good!!

Fantastic advocate for kids with disabilities – Rachel Barron with Zimring and Assoc. 404 607-1600 (Phone)
404 607-1355 (Fax)

Hope this mom gets the help she needs. Sorry she has to go thru this fpor what should be done automatically without a fight.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

May 13th, 2014
1:24 pm

THis was posted on our public FAcebook page but just want to share here for people not on FB with Momania. More resources!!

Montie Stone yes, Tina Balducci Plowman, the Kids Enabled website is a great place to start. Debbie Dobbs has a very good reputation as a parent advocate as well as others listed in our resource directory at http://www.kidsenabled.org/resource-directory

Resource Directory | Kids Enabled
Like · Reply · Remove Preview · 3 · Yesterday at 5:25am

Tina Balducci Plowman Kari, she should look at Kids Enabled website as well. They have a wealth of information for resources in Atlanta. http://www.kidsenabled.org/

Welcome To Kids Enabled | Kids Enabled
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Like · Reply · Remove Preview · 1 · Yesterday at 4:54am

Tina Balducci Plowman Carol Sadler 770-442-8357. I have never used her, but know people that have. I do not know an attorney, but I could probably ask around. I have to say, Ga is pretty pathetic when it comes to the IEP process and services. It is absurd and against the law! I certainly had cause several times…
Like · Reply · 1 · Yesterday at 4:41am

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

May 13th, 2014
1:25 pm

One other note — I sent all of this to the mom last night and she said she didn’t feel so alone anymore. That makes me so happy. I am so glad you guys were able to support her!! Thank you!