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Navigating IDEA for Parents

A federal law, the Individuals With Disabilities in Education Act or IDEA, requires schools to work with parents cooperatively to educate kids with disabilities. I have represented parents in this process from time to time over the years. Generally, I try to stay out of direct engagement with the Schools and have the parents work cooperatively but strategically to achieve their goals. Get the expert reports to support your position is advice I give regularly. Special Ed teachers pick their careers because they want to help, not hurt kids. They don't need or appreciate accusing lawyers breathing down their necks. But sometimes bureaucrats to whom the teacher's report don't understand the needs that the child faces and are unduly rigid. When this occurs, on rare occasions, we can bring an administrative process and follow up with court action. The story here raises another issue, however. The issue here is for a Type 1 diabetic child, and whether the child can inject the insulin mix in school. Here, the parents must mix the insulin in the syringes or face enormous costs. The District in this case undoubtedly worries about liability if the mix from the parents produces an adverse reaction. We face a shortage of insulin in this country, and diabetics must navigate cost-effective ways to stay alive. But school districts must determine who can mix medications that children can take on their property. In other words, a national health care problem is getting played out in both a school bureaucracy and a courtroom in the context of an educational civil rights case. Courts and lawyers throughout the country often end up navigating the practical effects of policies set in Washington. Sometimes you may read about a court case and wonder, why did we get to this point that a lawsuit must be filed? The answer often is, we are all constrained by the laws and rules that govern our behavior. Each side has a point to make and is stuck with a practical limitation. Sometimes it takes a judge to hear the competing arguments and make a decision. That is not a failure of our system. Lawsuits are not inherently bad. Lawyers help sharpen the issues and this allows judges to issue decisions to provide clarity which rule governs. If the losing side doesn't like the ruling, then they can lobby their legislators to change the law. A representative can more clearly understand how to change the rules to avoid the problems that have emerged because the lawsuit helped clarify the competing rules.

A Marital Tort Claim Will Transform Your Divorce Case

A marital tort claim will transform your divorce case. It can increase your bargaining power and provide significant compensation for abuse or fraud. Learn whether you have a claim, and how and when to raise it. It is an underutilized tool that can be beneficial in the right circumstances.

As Fourth of July approaches, my thoughts turn to liberty

The Fourth of July approaches and my thoughts turn to liberty. I want you to imagine something. It is a crime to drive recklessly. One can reasonably argue that anyone driving more than fifteen miles per hour over the speed limit is a criminal. We could have cameras in the highways or GPS devices in peoples' cars transmit such violations to the government. Then periodically, we could send notices of criminal violations to people's homes. And if people didn't show up in court, we could send armed agents to their homes to conduct raids, holding everyone at gun point while agents arrest the offender. We could say, "we have no choice. We must live under the law and not ignore it." 

From pregnancy discrimination to negative actions against parents

While great strides have been made to improve workplace conditions and increase economic opportunities for women, there continues to be discrimination. Pregnancy discrimination is one of the most common.

For decades, women have felt the pressure to choose between motherhood and career. Several decades ago, women generally left the workforce when they had children. Today, women face a more passive form of gender discrimination. This can range from being passed over for a promotion to losing a position based on some pretextual excuse (no longer being able to lift 50 pounds).

Dealing with job search depression

Much of our practice is meeting with people who are losing their position. Especially when the person is older than 45, the time it may take to find a new job can be excruciatingly long. I always advise people not to take a break but to throw themselves into the search. I also advise them to stick to their habits. Set the alarm; leave the house; go to a set place and treat the day at work. The new job is looking for a job. I recommend daily or at least every other day meetings. Buy people breakfast and coffees. Increasingly one gets work either from headhunters or from one's own network. Forcing one's self to network and look good for meetings keeps one focused and limits depressive procrastination.

Far reaching consequences of sexual assault accusations

It's a story that should have had a happy ending. A young man plays football at a prestigious university. A professional team offers him a spot on their roster. While playing for the team, a newspaper prints a story about how the young man was banned from campus due to false allegations of sexual assault. Shortly after, the professional team cuts him from the roster.

The young man filed a lawsuit against the university for violating his due process rights when it chose to expel him based on the false allegations.

The passage of time and human error

What seems so clear in one moment can seem so misguided years later. This NY Times article, "Linda Fairstein, Once Cheered Faces Storms After 'When They See Us", by Elizabeth Harris and Julie Jacobs discusses the career of the famous sex crimes prosecutor, Linda Fairstein. Fairstein did much to develop modern prosecutorial approaches to rape. She helped professionalize the rape units in county prosecutor offices and her lectures and her example excited thousands of prosecutors to organize their careers along her model in the last thirty years. Law and Order SVU was inspired by her example. After she stopped prosecuting, she wrote 20 crime and mystery novels.

NachtLaw establishes new rights for Students in Michigan

In a precedent-setting case in the western district of Michigan, Doe v Northern Michigan University, David Nacht and Adam Taub obtained the first court opinion providing a student with a breach of contract claim when he is expelled in a flawed process because the college violated the student handbook procedures. This is the first court to find students in Michigan have such a contractual right. The ruling allows the case to continue to discovery and opens the door for other students to find redress. The court also allowed the case to proceed on a due process theory.

Will a noncompete clause keep you from starting your own practice?

Whether you are starting your career as a doctor or you are looking to make a change, it can be helpful to join other doctors in an established practice. The owners already have experience and a good reputation in the community. It can be a mutually beneficial trade. They can add more patients, and you can gain experience.

Some physicians thrive working in an office owned by someone else. While you may have to answer to an employer, you do not have to worry about the liability that comes with being in charge. Eventually, however, some doctors look for more freedom and the power to make their own decisions.

Michigan emergency rooms are jammed.

It's not just emergency rooms; it's jails too. Decades ago, we wrongly warehoused the severely mentally ill. In the1970-1980s we abandoned that approach. In part, this was due to civil liberties lawsuits. It was also due to cultural change brought about by films such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and the development of antipsychotic medications that left many people able to function with basic life skills. Therefore, we switched to halfway houses and community mental health support for those who live on their own. We shut down large psychiatric hospitals all over the country. With the persistent underfunding of mental health services; however, we have allowed emergency rooms and jails to become a major provider of services to the mentally ill. This current approach is a terrible use of resources as well as bad public policy on many other levels. As a society, we should strive for dignity among all people who live here. The modern approach does not fix the problem. It is like a food bank approach to poverty. It can be essential in saving lives or extreme misery on a bad day, but it does not reduce the likelihood of bad days. We are late into a period of economic recovery and expansion. This is the time for us to think about using our resources to improve how we solve problems. Think of it as human infrastructure work. We are spending the money to help people anyway. We might as well do it better. Kudos to the Bridge and the organizations and individuals it covers in its article series for reminding us we can do better. 

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