Review of file and discussion of legal options

JD is a disabled veteran.  In October 2015, he signed a contract with a company that specializes in solar energy services.  The company agreed to install solar panels in his home.  However, the panels were not sufficient to power his home.  The contract JD signed also lists someone else’s name and address as the homeowner.  In addition, JD is now being billed both by the solar company and by his utility company each month, which he cannot afford.  The solar company is now demanding payment.  It has suggested that JD could enter into a payment plan, but he is living paycheck to paycheck and is unable to pay the amount they have requested each month.  JD is seeking an attorney to review the contract and determine if the charges for which he is being billed are appropriate, and what his options are.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org



Prepare application for discharge upgrade

AB joined the Army in 2010.  She served until 2013, when she was separated.  She received a general under honorable status based upon a pattern of misconduct.  AB believes that she was targeted by her commanding officers in retaliation for reporting certain activity in her unit, including her rape, and that several minor incidents were inflated in order to have her removed.  She is seeking assistance in filing an application for a discharge upgrade. Military file has been vetted by an attorney experienced in military law, and determined AB has strong case for an upgrade. 

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org



Negotiation with district regarding evaluations, comp. ed., and placement

DH is a 13-yr-old who just completed the 8th grade. He is classified as OHI and has been diagnosed with ADHD, Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and also has issues with auditory and language processing. Despite having high grades in elementary school, his grades worsened and his anxieties increased in middle school. Earlier this year, DH’s neurodevelopment pediatrician recommended that DH be placed in a therapeutic school with small group teaching and regular access to counseling, which DH’s mother, KH, requested. The district first decided to make changes to his program, but DH’s anxiety continued to increase. In May, the district again changed DH’s placement, removing him from the general education classroom. KH requested an independent psychiatric evaluation, and the evaluating psychiatric stated that DH may benefit from a therapeutic school. KH wrote to the district requesting an out-of-district placement, but her request was denied. KH is seeking independent evaluations (if necessary), compensatory related services for the lack of appropriate therapeutic services in DH’s IEP, and a FAPE placement in a therapeutic out-of-district school.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org



Negotiation with district regarding IEEs, IEP, and comp. ed.

JH is a 13-yr-old who just completed 8th grade; he is classified under the category Emotionally Disturbed. The district has suspended him multiple times due to aggressive behavior, but allowed him to return to school after it correctly determined that the behavior was a manifestation of his disability. Ultimately the district placed JH on home instruction and is now discussing an out-of-district placement. Despite JH’s behavioral issues, the district has not completed a multi-disciplinary evaluation of JH (including an FBA) in more than six years. JH’s mother, LH, is seeking independent evaluations at the district’s expense, compensatory educational services if warranted, and development of an appropriate IEP for this school year.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org



Representation in due process proceeding regarding IEEs

LA is a 13-yr-old who just completed the 7th grade. He has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and an Arnold Chiari Type 1 Brain Malformation. He has been placed in a self-contained special education class for students with multiple disabilities and has received speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. However, his progress has been minimal, his speech is regressing, and he is starting to become aggressive. He is also still unable to use the toilet independently or to read or write. LA’s mother, DP, requested an independent educational evaluation (IEE) consisting of multiple assessments. However, the district denied the request and initiated a due process hearing. Mediation is expected to be scheduled for some time in September. DP is seeking representation defending against the due process proceeding, including at mediation, to obtain IEEs.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org



Prepare bankruptcy petition and representation at 341 hearing

SH is a 41-year-old woman seeking assistance with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. She has approximately $37,000 in debt, which may all be dischargeable; $10,000 in credit card debt, $5000 in medical bills and $2,000 in IRS debt. She also owes around $20,000 in auto loans.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org



Negotiation with district regarding IEEs, IEP, placement, and comp. ed.

CT is a 10-yr-old who just completed 5th grade; he has been diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, and severe behavioral issues, and has a long history of being physically restrained and suspended by school staff. Consequently, the district placed him on home instruction for November and December 2015, during which he received 2 hours of tutoring each day. From January through the summer of 2016, he attended an out-of-district placement, where he made meaningful progress academically, behaviorally, and socially. For the 2016-17 school year, he was placed back in-district. CT’s mother, TT, filed for due process in August 2016 to maintain CT’s placement out-of-district, but ultimately dismissed the petition as she did not believe she was capable of representing her son pro se. CT returned to the district where he continued to be suspended and physically restrained. In June 2017, his psychiatrist wrote a letter recommending that CT return to his out-of-district placement. The district then requested that TT obtain a psychiatric evaluation of CT before he began ESY. The psychiatrist who evaluated CT did not clear him to return to school. In July, the district informed TT that they will provide home instruction for ESY. TT is seeking independent evaluations, development of an appropriate IEP including a BIP, compensatory educational and behavioral services to compensate for the lack of those services during the 2016-17 school year, and placement in a therapeutic out-of-district school.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org



Representation at due process hearing to request IEP and appropriate services

MP is a 7-yr-old who just completed 2nd grade in a language learning disabilities class; he has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and has attention and social reciprocity difficulties. After the district reevaluated MP earlier this year, the results of the speech-language evaluation revealed that his pragmatic language skills are poor. Despite this, the district reduced the amount of MP’s speech-language, as well as occupational therapy (OT), services for next year. MP also receives individual counseling sessions once a week for 20 minutes, which is insufficient to address his social reciprocity issues. MM has had to pay for private social skills instruction for MP since the district is not providing it. The district has also failed to complete any evaluations of MP’s social/emotional/behavioral needs or develop appropriate goals and objectives for them. MP’s mother, MM, requested an independent speech evaluation, and the district filed for due process to avoid having to pay for it. A settlement conference was held on July 13th, and MM has a follow upi call with the judge on August 9th, but no hearing dates have been set yet. MM is seeking representation to obtain an independent speech-language evaluation, an increase in speech-language and OT services to the level they were last school year, and the provision of social skills instruction at school with appropriate goals and objectives.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org



AG is an 8-yr-old 3rd-grader who has been diagnosed with ADHD. Her IEP provided for minimal services (i.e. one period per day of in-class support in both math and language arts literacy). Last year, the district offered 20 hours of compensatory education services to make up for a delay in evaluating AG and failing to implement her IEP during the first half of the school year. However, AG’s mother, JG, learned through the vice principal that, even while providing compensatory services to AG, the district was not regularly implementing AG’s minimal IEP services. JG is seeking independent evaluations, documentation of IEP implementation, and/or increased services, plus compensatory services as appropriate.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org



Representation at mediation and, if necessary, a due process hearing

EC is an 11-yr-old 6th-grader who has been diagnosed with dyslexia. He also has expressive language difficulties that do not seem to be adequately addressed in his current program. The district reevaluated EC in May 2016, but does not appear to have done an appropriate dyslexia screening as required under NJ law. EC’s test results make it clear that his reading achievement is significantly below his cognitive abilities. In March, EC’s mother, JA, went to mediation and signed a settlement agreement in which the district agreed to place EC in an after-school program 3 days a week for 1 hour per day. However, the reading programs that were provided to EC were inappropriate and not consistent with recommendations in a recent psychological evaluation. EC’s reading scores have not improved at all. JA is seeking an out-of-district placement that specializes in students with dyslexia as well as compensatory services.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org



Spanish speaking client. Negotiation with district regarding spec. ed. services and comp. ed.

AM is a 3-yr-old who received services for speech and language through Early Intervention. When she turned 3 last fall, AM was not appropriately referred for an initial evaluation to determine eligibility for speech and language services, resulting in termination of these services. In April 2017, she had surgery for her ears and a tonsillectomy. AM’s mother, AP, believes that her daughter’s speech is regressing and she still requires speech and language services. AP is seeking an IEP providing AM with special education services consisting of speech and language therapy, and compensatory services for the period of time AM failed to receive speech and language therapy.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org




Negotiation with contractor or representation in lawsuit

CL and her husband hired a contractor through a state grant program to repair and elevate their Sandy-damaged home. They signed an agreement in June 2016, but it did not include an end date or time period for completion of the work. CL paid the contractor almost $23k for the first phase of work, but he failed to complete most of it. Of the work he did complete, much of it was done incorrectly, and will cost CL between $50k and $70k to fix. CL sent the contractor two certified letters, one in February and one in April, putting him on notice of the work that was done improperly and requesting that he fix it, but he never responded. CL, her husband, and their 3 young children are displaced and desperate to return home, as the children are sharing a bedroom and the entire family is sharing a bathroom. CL is seeking an attorney who could negotiate with the contractor or, if necessary, file a lawsuit seeking a refund of the $23k payment as well as the cost to repair the work that was done improperly.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org


middlesex county - contractor dispute

Representation in Law Division trial against contractor. Trial – 10/23/17

MH, a senior citizen, hired a contractor to repair her Sandy-damaged home.  She paid him in full, but much of the work was never completed and the work that was has failed several inspections.  The approximate total of damages is $49,500.  MH made multiple written and verbal requests for the contractor to finish the work or correct what was done improperly, but he refused.  MH hired a new contractor to fix the mistakes and finish the remaining work.  She then filed a lawsuit against the original contractor in Chancery Court; the case was recently transferred to the Law Division.  A trial has been scheduled for October 2017.  MH is seeking representation in the lawsuit.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org



Review of military records and consultation

JT served in the Marines for nearly three years without incident.  While on guard one day, he witnessed a suicide.  After this event, JT began having mental health issues and ultimately self medicated with illegal drugs.  He tested positive during a routine drug test and was discharged OTH.  JT has been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of his experience.  He hopes to upgrade his discharge status to access VA benefits.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org