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What does a Special Education Advocate/Consultant  Do?

Advocate vs. Attorney

Presence of an attorney at IEP meetings is “strongly discouraged” by the United States Office of Special Education Programs because it “could potentially create an adversarial atmosphere at the meeting, which could interfere with the development of the child’s IEP…”(U.S. Department of Education,1998). While attorneys have knowledge of law, they often do not have backgrounds in education or hands-on experience working with children with special and/or exceptional needs.

Julie Hagy-Hancock, MS.Ed. has spent the last 12 years supporting families and students in IEP and 504 processes. As an advocate, she understands state and federal laws and is able to bring professional, hands-on experience from the Special Education field to the table. This combination provides the ability to keep meetings non-adversarial and child centered!

An Advocate…

  • Speaks to the best interests of the student in the educational process

  • Knows State and Federal laws pertaining to children with special needs/abilitites and can inform parent(s)/guardian(s) of their rights

  • Suggests appropriate services, programs and accommodations/modifications to meet the student’s individual needs

  • Can provide classroom observation reports

  • Helps interpret and expalin assessment reports (to students/parents/guardians/institutions), and the data’s signficance to the student’s educational needs

  • Collaborates on Positive Behavior Support (PBS) planning

  • Helps parents/guardians put requests in writing

  • Prepares parents for the IEP/504 meeting. This could include interpreting and prioritizing support materials, proposing goals and objectives, and providing/rehearsing strategies for the meeting

  • Reviews education documents, including files, assessments, evaluation reports, drafted  IEPs/504s, report cards, observation reports, ect. prior to IEP/504 meetings

  • Accompanies parents/guardians to IEP, 504, and other relevant school meetings to provide advice and assistance

  • Reviews IEP documents before parent/guardians sign them

  • Drafts letters, responses, complaints and written requests to school and district officials

  • Empowers and educates families (parents and students) to strengthen their own advocacy skills

  • If you are ready to take your case to due process, an advocate can help advise you on the strength of your case and make referrals to local special education attorneys


Who Does a Special Education Advocate help?

A Special Education Advocate assists families of children with any learning concerns. Some students have needs that are already identified, whereas other parents will seek advocacy support in helping them identify issues that may be affecting their child’s learning. Common examples of Learning Concerns:

  • Dyslexia

  • AD/HD and Sensory Disorders

  • Learning disabilities and processing disorders (math, reading, writing)

  • Speech and language deficits

  • Hearing and/or Visual Impairments

  • Autism spectrum

  • Behavioral and/or Emotional disorders

  • Physical disabilities

  • Chronic illnesses

  • Traumatic brain injuries

  • Intellectual Disabilities

How do I get started?

Since each student is unique, the process will be unique as well. Generally, you will first be asked to complete an Intake Form, giving relevant background details on your child and family.

Then, the needs of your child will be assessed. Additional documentation will be requested as needed.

After reviewing these documents, Julie Hagy-Hancock, MS, will collaborate with you on a Success Design Plan for your child. From there, the implementation begins!

Contact Julie Hagy-Hancock, MS.Ed, at or (703) 936-1170 to start the process. Your initial consultation is free.

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