Special Ed: Private Placement
Our son has High Functioning Autism, and during his 6th grade year, was struggling significantly with the anxiety brought on by large class sizes, group projects, high noise level, and some difficult social dynamics. He was needing to leave class often to get the breaks he needed, and as a result, was missing large amounts of class time. The school was not able to offer a setting that was appropriate for him, and was therefore out of compliance with his IEP. At that point, we notified the district that we would be enrolling him at a private school the following fall, requested that they cover the tuition, and began to consult with Lara Hruska at Cedar Law.
At the beginning of 7th grade, J**** began classes at the private school, where he has thrived and recovered his joy for learning. The district countered our request by making another in-district offer which was equally unacceptable. Fortunately, through a series of school visits, and many meetings, we were able to settle with the district without going to court, and they are currently paying the full private school tuition. However, if we had not had Lara Hruska from Cedar Law with us throughout the process, I don’t believe it would have happened. She was fantastic from beginning to end, offering her expertise, experience, and conflict resolution skills. Lara has a Special Education background, so she understands the system, and has a heart for this population of students. For the families who run up against these types of obstacles in the public school system, an attorney with her skills is invaluable. We can’t recommend her highly enough!
Discipline Appeal & Discrimination Claim at Private University
When the private graduate school I was attending discriminated against me based on my veteran status, no other lawyer would take my case because educational law was not in their practice. When I contacted Lara she heard my story and took me on as a client. She provided comfort and expert counsel in my time of crisis. She guided me through the entire appeals process and strongly advocated on my behalf once we filed our lawsuit for wrongful dismissal and veteran discrimination. As a student, having Lara as an ally was invaluable during the arduous legal process. Lara will fight for your best outcome tenaciously and I would recommend her to anyone who has experienced injustice at the hands of the educational system.
Out of District Private Placement
Our son has High Functioning Autism, and during his 6th grade year, was struggling significantly with the anxiety brought on by large class sizes, group projects, high noise level, and some difficult social dynamics. He was needing to leave class often to get the breaks he needed, and as a result, was missing large amounts of class time. The school was not able to offer a setting that was appropriate for him, and was therefore out of compliance with his IEP. At that point, we notified the district that we would be enrolling him at a private school the following fall, requested that they cover the tuition, and began to consult with Lara Hruska at Cedar Law. At the beginning of 7th grade, Jacob began classes at the private school, where he has thrived and recovered his joy for learning. The district countered our request by making another in-district offer which was equally unacceptable. Fortunately, through a series of school visits, and many meetings, we were able to settle with the district without going to court, and they are currently paying the full private school tuition. However, if we had not had Lara Hruska from Cedar Law with us throughout the process, I don’t believe it would have happened. She was fantastic from beginning to end, offering her expertise, experience, and conflict resolution skills. Lara has a Special Education background, so she understands the system, and has a heart for this population of students. For the families who run up against these types of obstacles in the public school system, an attorney with her skills is invaluable. We can’t recommend her highly enough!
Residential Placement for Public High School Student
Team Child had been advocating for my son for a few years, helping him with his needs in the schools he attended. In 2016, my son had started high school and the issues that he had with every school he attended continued into high school. We did our best as a family to support my son, but the negative circumstances between my son and school staff escalated. Although I clearly understood the accountability on my son’s part, I also saw that procedures were not only being followed but that without revisiting every email, every document and every medical evaluation, I sensed that his needs were not being met. Not only that, but that he was being set up for failure. I consulted with Paul and he stated that Team Child did not have capacity to assist my son. He strongly recommended that it was time to seek counsel. I called a law firm that specialized in working with school districts and they referred me to Cedar Law.
Lara called me back immediately. She was warm, compassionate, yet strong and powerful. After our first phone call I was feeling relief and hope for my son for the first time in my life. She agreed to represent my son and we immediately set a time to get to work.
After our first meeting, I walked away knowing that I had placed my son’s future in the very capable hands of a woman who not only relates to the human condition but is also a very quick thinker, concise in thought and passionate about her work. She clarified so much for me. This was in October of 2016. After two meetings with the school district, and agreement was made and my son was placed in a therapeutic boarding school. He immediately excelled. He has been there for almost a year and it is the best thing that has ever happened to our family.
The issues with my son were serious and Lara met with head on, with confidence and speed. She is our family’s savior. If I could, I would nominate her for saint hood.
Inclusive Special Education
After our daughter had been fully included in a general education classroom for the first three years of elementary school, the school district decided it would be easier to educate her in a secluded self-contained classroom based on her diagnosis of Down syndrome. I contacted Lara at Cedar Law to help us exercise our daughter’s rights to maintain her education amongst her peers with the accommodations she was entitled to.
Beyond her obvious knowledge of the school system and the IEP process, Lara was genuinely interested in achieving the best outcome for my daughter. My goal in seeking representation was to hire someone who would compassionately and intelligently work to achieve the best outcome for my daughter – not someone whose only interest was a win. Fortunately, we got both! Highly recommend Lara and would not hesitate to hire her trusted colleagues.
Early Childhood Special Education Inclusion
The attorneys at Cedar Law are a dream team. The Shoreline School District had denied my preschool son access to FAPE, and Angela Shapow fought hard to help me get an appropriate program for my son. Angela is extremely knowledgeable about education law and is passionate about her work. Before law school, she directed a preschool and understands the challenges in educating children from diverse backgrounds. She has a special connection with parents and their struggles that most attorneys don’t have. Taking legal action can be tedious and stressful for parents, but Angela pushed hard to advance the case and force the District to settle in 5 months.
Her colleague Lara Hruska expertly negotiates with school officials (in fact, she used to represent school districts, so she understands the unique psychology of the “other side”). Together, Angela and Lara won me a generous settlement offer and negotiated superb resources for my son.
I’m grateful to Cedar Law for their compassion, generosity, and sharp legal skills.
First Amendment for Student Journalism
My son Micah and I are very grateful for the legal services that Lara at Cedar Law PLLC provided to us during a time of distress in our lives. Micah had been the target of improper actions taken against him by the administration at his high school for several years due to the fact that they did not like the content of some of his journalistic sports reporting. Lara not only helped us to uphold Micah’s first amendment free speech rights, but also clearly explained to us the process by which legal action should be taken in order to maximize results. Lara was available to answer our questions and provided clear and effective legal advice. Thanks to her efforts on our behalf, Micah’s case was favorably settled in a reasonable amount of time.
Initial Eligibility & Evaluation for Services
Our son with Autism Spectrum Disorder was struggling to get the educational help that he needed. My husband and I had requested that our son be evaluated for special education before he had started kindergarten. After 16 months of our family struggling to get our son help and not feeling like he was safe, the district would not follow the law and evaluate our son. After several meetings with the school specialists, countless emails and phone calls, our son still did not have an Individual Educational Plan. We reached out to Cedar Law after exhausting every avenue possible in order to get our son the help that he needed.
At the initial intake Lara Hruska and her team diligently went through our case and promptly gave us legal advice on how to respond next with our son’s school district. Lara wrote a demand letter promptly. The school district IMMEDIATELY started to get our son the special education that he needs.
Working with Lara has taken a tremendous burden off of our family. My husband and I felt like we could rest, knowing that our son would be protected under the law. We were able to obtain a great educational placement for our child as well as a solid monetary award because of the school’s failure to keep him safe. Lara’s help was invaluable. Our son is thriving and happy in school. We are forever grateful.
OSPI Citizen’s Complaint – 1:1 Aide as LRE
Last school year, I found out that the district planned to place my kindergarten daughter with autism in a class with only older boys. No other girls or kindergartners. We called an IEP meeting to suggest that they put her in a gen ed class with an aide for at least 50% of the school day. They refused to consider our proposal and we escalated our case all the way up to the superintendent. There was still no resolution, however, I thought if I was friendly and collaborative and shared information on the benefits of inclusion, the team might come around. After trying to work with them for a whole school year, I reached out to Cedar Law after meeting Lara Hruska at the WAAA Blueprints to IDEA seminar.
I brought in pictures, work samples, and IEP’s and Lara, Angela, and I discussed my options. There were a few possible routes to consider, and I left our initial meeting feeling hopeful that something could be done.
I enjoyed working with Lara and Angela and found them to be knowledgeable and very upfront. If I had an idea that they knew wouldn’t work, they let me know! They told me what they had seen work in the past and let me know what to expect with the options we were considering.
After our OSPI complaint and our IEP meeting, which Lara attended, we obtained an ABA aide for our daughter and the time in general education that she needed to make progress academically and socially. It was an amazing outcome and was obtained relatively simply and inexpensively with the strategy that we used. Other students will also benefit from more inclusion after the state ruling regarding using aides in general education. I feel great knowing that we finally have a good educational trajectory for my daughter!
WIAA Athletic Eligibility for Interdistrict Transfer
Our matter started out as a simple transfer between school districts. We thought it would be a straight forward process, but when we went to the initial hearing nine months after his transfer, he was denied athletic eligibility. That’s when we reached out to Cedar Law, Lara Hruska and Chris Williams.
We made the appointment and Lara sat with us and listened intently to our story. After asking questions and hearing our son speak about his experience, she was in. From that day on they went to work! It was an amazing process! We just wanted to see our son play basketball in his senior year and for him to be happy and healthy in an accepting school where he could flourish as a student athlete which is exactly what he did. In the new district, he was supported by the staff all around from the teachers to the counselors to the principal.
Discipline Appeal and Title IX Defense at Private College
We reached out to Cedar Law when our Son was given a notice of complaint from the Office of Conduct of his Private College in the State of Washington. With very little information to go by, and with notice of a possible hearing, we decided we needed help.
We met with Lara Hruska and she helped immediately by dissecting what the Office of Conduct case was about and the rules surrounding these types of cases, and she helped our Son determine how he should go about documenting and explaining his side of the case. Lara was very good at working with our Son directly to determine the who, what, and where and also was very helpful in getting his confidence restored from a false charge. Lara was able to get more information from the school regarding the allegations that we were not able to get on our own. With this information it became clear our Son’s rights were being violated. Much of this was exposed because of the strategies and representation by Lara. With much pushback and fact finding, it turned out the School’s case was based on false testimony from a single witness.
The case was resolved completely in the favor of our Son as it should have been, however we believe without Lara’s knowledge, advice, and direct interactions with our Son and other witnesses that exposed the false testimony, the School could have taken a very different position and the outcome could have been detrimental to our Son. Our Son is in school working to finish his degree, and with Lara’s help and kind support he is still on track for his career aspirations. Lara’s level head and smart approach helped our family tremendously during this stressful time and we will always be thankful for her expertise.
Due Process Hearing Requests for IEP
Luke Hackenberg was amazing to work with! He learned what my son needed and would help negotiate based on facts and my son’s wants/needs; while the school district focused on saving face and money. Luke helped keep the boy’s needs in focus and wrote beautifully in his legal documents. My high school level son’s writing disability was diagnosed in elementary school and he tested to be very intelligent. That means he is capable of learning to or above his grade level. Through the 6 years that followed, the school district did not teaching him to write near his grade level, nor write clear measurable IEP goals, nor get accommodation for his classes. It was a very messy case and, during the process, the school district hurt my son through their choices and actions at school. Luke kept calm and focused and helped pressure the district to pay for some of my son’s learning needs. He helped us through a very difficult time and we are very grateful for his talents and caring.
Attorney Chris Williams of Cedar Law in Seattle, WA is an absolute superhero. If anyone is fighting for justice for their child, we recommend with no reservations whatsoever. He is smart, savvy, and most importantly, very empathetic to students and their families. We are forever grateful.
504 Plan / Accommodations
Lara Hruska provided excellent advice and support in our 504 Accommodation journey. Our son had good grades and no apparent issues until our first PSAT. After that he was diagnosed with stealth dyslexia. Our first request for a high school 504 was denied. We had heard from multiple families that trying to get an accommodation when grades are good is almost impossible. We wanted to aggressively fight for our rights. Lara counseled an approach where my son spoke for himself, with well coached preparation and ultimately he realized he could advocate for himself successfully. The approach was equal parts sage advice, encouragement and light touch. The opportunity to be successful, the confidence and the achievement our son has experienced totally changed how he sees his role in his future.