Education Law

As an education lawyer, attorney Chitra Ramanathan is committed to ensuring that children’s rights are protected and enforced in the educational arena. She has experience in a wide range of school-related issues, including children with special needs, anti-bullying and harassment statutes and student discipline issues. She works closely with teachers and administrators in public and charter schools.

Chitra brings valuable experience to her education law practice. She became passionate about education law after practicing criminal law as a public defender. Chitra saw that many of her adult clients started out in the juvenile justice system and learned that many of her clients could not read, or were missing other basic skills because they never received appropriate services from the public school district when they were younger. Chitra applied her passion to developing an education practice as a legal aid attorney in Cleveland, Ohio. She learned that parents often do not realize that school issues are legal issues and they and their child have rights. School issues can lead to disciplinary action by the school district which can then turn into a juvenile court case. School law has unique procedures and terminology that can be difficult to understand. Chitra is knowledgeable about education law and procedures and wants to help parents help their children. She has represented many children with special needs ranging from ADD, ADHD, anxiety, depression, autism, speech and processing disorders and behavioral disorders. Chitra can help parents who are not satisfied with how their district is providing for their child’s individual needs. She can help parents whose child is struggling in school and the public school district refuses to identify the child as needing special education services. She can help parents with obtaining services that the district is not be providing with an existing Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan. She can also help parents whose child is facing disciplinary action such as suspension or expulsion due to behavior related to his/her disability. Even if something seems like a minor problem, you can call and speak to Chitra first. Your child’s education is important to you and it is important to Chitra.

Children With Special Needs

Attorney Chitra Ramanathan has experience helping parents of children with special needs obtain necessary services from the public school district according to state and federal laws. This includes representation from the beginning stages of identification and evaluation requests to attending school meetings where the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is tailored to meet the needs of each child. She is also knowledgeable about 504 Plans. As an experienced negotiator, Chitra Ramanathan has initiated discussions with school districts to provide appropriate services and when it is required, filed for due process hearings and represented parents at mediation and due process hearings. She also assists with discipline issues and has represented children at manifestation determination reviews, expulsion and suspension hearings. It is her contention that children should remain in school and the issues leading to the disciplinary action must be addressed. This can be done using Functional Behavioral Assessments and Behavior Intervention Plans. As a children’s education advocate, she developed the education program at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland where she represented children for four years. The project was subsequently funded by a law firm and continues today.

Due Process Complaints

A due process complaint is like a filing a lawsuit. A due process hearing is a way to determine what identification, educational placement and appropriate services and support that your child is entitled to under the law. A complaint is filed through OAH (Office of Administrative Hearings), instead of the regular court system. Once the due process complaint is filed, there are a series of attempts to resolve the dispute between the parents and the school system. If these attempts are unsuccessful, a hearing is held. The hearing is a “trial” where the parties are allowed to present witnesses, evidence and arguments. The administrative judge makes a final, written decision. If you “win” at the hearing, your child may receive the services and/or placement that you considered “appropriate” as well as compensatory education which are services your child should have received from the district.

Lawsuits against government entities like school district are procedurally complex. An education attorney, such as Chitra, can help level the playing field between you and the district. She will let you know your rights and options. If you and your child are facing an education issue, call her today for the best legal advice.