Special Education

Schools must ensure that each student’s educational needs are met while staying within the confines of the law and their budgets. As they strive to provide special education services, often difficult circumstances arise. 

Best Best & Krieger LLP’s education attorneys have a track record of helping school districts navigate these complex and often emotional situations, and doing so in a manner that is fair, reasonable and within our clients’ budgets.

Comprehensive Service
Our attorneys regularly advise on and represent school districts regarding a wide variety of special education issues arising under California law and the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, including:

  • Compliance with state and federal laws 
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • California Department of Education compliance complaints
  • Office for Civil Rights Investigations
  • Eligibility determinations and accommodations/facilities modifications
  • Individualized Education Assessments 
  • IEP-related services and behavior plans
  • Least restrictive environment placement
  • Free and Appropriate Public Education issues
  • Comprehensive risk avoidance and litigation prevention strategies
  • Obligations to students placed in charter schools, private schools, residential treatment centers and other nonconventional educational programs


Further, we assist schools and school districts in establishing and implementing special education-related policies, procedures and manuals. We offer legal opinions and provide customized training programs to help assure legal compliance and minimize the risk of exposure to litigation. 

Extensive Experience Clients In and Out of Court
BB&K education attorneys have extensive experience in effectively representing clients in IEP meetings, resolution meetings, mediations, due process hearings resulting from parent complaints filed with the California Office of Administrative Hearings, and appeals of due process hearings before federal district and appellate courts. Our attorneys have successfully represented school districts in due process hearings and appellate matters on a wide range of issues, including eligibility, appropriateness of assessments, least restrictive environment, autism methodology, requests for reimbursement for nonpublic schools and residential placements, and attorneys’ fees requests.

We are also recognized for our knowledge and experience in resolving issues involving the ADA and our attorneys have successfully defended and negotiated appropriate resolutions to IEP- and ADA-related compliance complaints filed with the California Department of Education, as well as complaints of discrimination based on disability with the federal Office for Civil Rights.

Lauri A. Arrowsmith

Lauri A. Arrowsmith

Of Counsel

(949) 263-6564

Areas of Focus: Education Law | Education Litigation | Public Finance | Special Education
Jack B. Clarke

Jack B. Clarke

Partner

(951) 826-8233

Areas of Focus: Board Governance & Administration | Business Services & School Facilities | Charter Schools | Education Law | Education Litigation | Special Education
Maria E. Gless

Maria E. Gless

Partner

(951) 826-8333

Areas of Focus: Education | Education Law | Education Litigation | Special Education | Student Affairs
Dina Harris

Dina Harris

Partner

(619) 525-1340

Areas of Focus: Board Governance & Administration | Business Services & School Facilities | Charter Schools | Education Law | Special Education | Student Affairs
Cathy S. Holmes

Cathy S. Holmes

Partner

(951) 826-8218

Areas of Focus: Board Governance & Administration | Business Services & School Facilities | Charter Schools | Education Law | Special Education | Student Affairs
Rikesha S. Lane

Rikesha S. Lane

Of Counsel

(951) 826-8356

Areas of Focus: Board Governance & Administration | Education Law | Investigations | Labor & Employment | Special Education | Student Affairs
Epiphany Owen

Epiphany Owen

Partner

(949) 263-6589

Areas of Focus: Business Services & School Facilities | Education Law | Education Litigation | Public Agency Labor & Employment | Special Education | Student Affairs
Andrea Swinhart

Andrea Swinhart

Paralegal*

(951) 826-8463

Areas of Focus: Business Services & School Facilities | Charter Schools | Education Law | Education Litigation | Special Education | Student Affairs
Christine N. Wood

Christine N. Wood

Director of PRA Services and E-Discovery Counsel

(213) 542-3861

Areas of Focus: Board Governance & Administration | California Public Records Act | Education Law | Education Litigation | Government Policy & Public Integrity | Municipal Law
Event Aug 25, 2018

State & Federal Laws Affecting Special Education

ACSA Academy

Event May 23, 2018

Occupational and Physical Therapy: Legal Issues and Best Practices

Orange County Department of Education - Special Education Services

Event Feb 10, 2018

State and Federal Laws Impacting Special Education

ACSA Academy

Event Jan 30, 2018

Discipline and Expulsion Best Practices

NBI Workshop - IEPs and 504 Plans

New Federal Regulations for Schools
Legal Alerts Jul 12, 2017

New Federal Regulations for Schools

Clarifies Language and Requirements Related to Special Education

School District Prevails in Special Education Placement Case
Client Successes Apr 5, 2017

School District Prevails in Special Education Placement Case

Partner Karen Van Dijk Earns Victory Before the Ninth Circuit

New Standard for FAPE
Legal Alerts Mar 24, 2017

New Standard for FAPE

Program Must Allow Child to Make Progress “Appropriate in Light of Child’s Circumstances”

Event Jan 26, 2017

Special Education Legal Panel

The Orange County Special Education Alliance

BB&K Event Oct 30, 2015

Special Education Seminar

Special Education Update: The Questions Remain the Same...The Answers Continue to Evolve

BB&K Partner Jack B. Clarke, Jr. Honored by Riverside African-American Historical Society
Press Releases Oct 23, 2015

BB&K Partner Jack B. Clarke, Jr. Honored by Riverside African-American Historical Society

The Long-Serving Education Attorney and Prominent Figure in the Riverside Area was Selected for His Impact on the Community

California Governor Eliminates Personal Belief Exemption for School Vaccinations
Legal Alerts Jul 1, 2015

California Governor Eliminates Personal Belief Exemption for School Vaccinations

SB 277 Requires All Students to be Vaccinated, Absent a Medical Exemption

Authored Articles & Publications Jan 1, 2006

Burden of Proof in Special Ed Disputes

By Jack B. Clarke and Maria E. Gless

Key Contacts

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