Education Law Principles

The University of San Diego School of Law provides free legal assistance in the area of Education and Disability Law. They represent parents who have a child with disabilities in a multitude of legal matters that range from IEP cases to eligibility and services; placement, discipline and expulsions; along with 504 Plans, Early Start, Regional Center eligibility and services, and limited conservatorships.

Although Sam Spital has previously handled education law cases to assist parents and guardians in obtaining compliance with various state and federal laws affecting the School District’s relationships with its students and parents, including the Individualized Education Program (IEP), out-of-home placement, private tutoring, private school, special education, career & vocational programs, mediation and the State hearing process, discrimination, disability accommodations, and child abuse,  Sam does not currently  focus on this practice area.

Spital and Associates does, however, focus as a integral area of its law firm along with their colleagues on the defense of cases involving Juvenile and children’s’ rights, criminal cases involving Juvenile Court hearings, matters of Domestic Violence in which Child Welfare Service or law enforcement investigates and facilitates family interventions; and, in those cases when the San Diego County District Attorney prosecutes child neglect or child abuse cases.


It has been reported that fewer than one-third (1/3) of Americans with disabilities between the age of 18 and 64 work full or part time. Moreover, twenty percent (20) fail to complete high school. Even more compelling is the fact these individuals report the lowest level of life satisfaction, using indicators including entertainment, socialization and optimism for the future. If each child obtains a fair and appropriate education, their opportunities in life are enhanced and the chance they will succeed in a work environment are significantly greater. When these factors are present, your child will be more likely to earn a good living and lead a satisfying and enriched life. Learning disabilities should always be understood in terms of life skills and not just school skills.

Have you asked yourself whether the reason your child is not getting “A” or “B” grades is because of a learning disability? There are only five modes of communication that can lead to a disability; they are auditory, visual, verbal, nonverbal, and tactical communication. A child may have a deficiency in one or more of these modalities. Once this is established by appropriate testing from an expert (whose title is Neuropsychologist), a report is produced and an appropriate and individualized educational program can be crafted for your child.

It is not enough that a psychologist performs this evaluation because the person has to have specific education and training to perform multiple tests to properly confirm a diagnosis and rule out others. Most psychologists are not trained in this specialty. Once the Neuropsychological Evaluation is completed and Report issued, our San Diego learning disorders attorneys will have a basis to obtain special services for your child, which will be provided by the School District at its expense.

Unfortunately, most school districts have a budget crisis and do not allocate sufficient funds for special education and/or special services. Additionally, some parents do not have a clear diagnosis and/or know the nature and extent of their child’s learning disability. More often than not, the parent does not retain legal counsel to represent him/her, and the district is unlikely to provide the appropriate intervention. Our role is to identify through appropriate assessments the special needs and obtain the services to help your child reach his/her optimum level of education and growth.

At Spital & Associates we believe that the following list of learning disorders have a profound effect on a child’s education. They are:

Learning Disorders

Asperger’s Disorder

This is a neurobiological disorder that generally impacts social interactions. Non-verbal Learning Disability and Autism are often confused with this condition, but the real difference is in the intensity of the symptoms. Asperger’s Disorder falls between a Nonverbal Learning Disability and Autism, with Autism deemed the more severe disorder. There is, however, usually no delay in intellectual potential or general academic skills.Some of the symptoms of Asperger’s Disorder are: Difficulty with nonverbal communication. Poor social skills and peer relationships. A flat affect to others (often indifferent or even sad with normal and/or happy things) Inflexible or difficulty in moving from one task to another and/or handling changes in routes. Poor understanding of the personal space of others.

Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and/or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are neurobiological disorders that arise from the part of our brain that controls impulse control and attention. There are different varieties of ADD/ADHD: (1) Inattentive Type, and (2) Hyperactive/Impulsive Type. The symptoms can be verbal, physical or both.Some of the symptoms for the Inattentive Type are:Difficulty paying attention, sequencing tasks and memory Difficulty with time management. Difficulty with following directions. Very laid back. Forgetful. Poor self-esteem. Tentative or non-risk taker.Some of the symptoms for the Hyperactive/Impulsive Type are:Inability to sit still without fidgeting, taking turns and completing tasks. Always on the go, non-stop behavior. Reckless and out of control behaviors, at times. Difficulty stopping themselves at times. Poor reading comprehension while having good reading skill in isolation. Low frustration level. Angry and aggressive behavior (usually due to frustration).


Autism is a congenital (from birth) or developmental disorder that usually appears by age three. As in the case of most learning disabilities, it manifests itself from mild to severe. Autism is biological and affects the normal development of both social and communication skills.Some of the symptoms of Autism are:Difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication. Difficulty with social interaction, and often a lack of empathy to others (preferring to be alone). Often marked by repeated body movements, such as: rocking, hand flapping, toe walking, and/or Manipulation of objects. Difficulty in moving from one task to another and/or handling changes in routes.

Central Auditory Processing Disorder

This is a neurological disorder that affects the ability to manage and perceive auditory information. Although a child receives the information (through hearing it), the child’s brain is unable to process the information correctly. Sometimes the brain can process the information but there is a delay.Some of the symptoms of an Auditory Processing Disorder are:Poor auditory memory. Difficulty paying attention. Often marked by the child asking for the information/question to be repeated Poor phonemic awareness. Poor ability to sequence auditory instruction. Hypersensitivity to sounds. Complaints of headaches in crowded areas.


Dyslexia is a neurological disability that affects reading (and in turn spelling and writing). It is noteworthy that this condition is not due to a lack of intelligence or improper instruction from others. It is also called a Developmental Reading Disorder.Some symptoms of Dyslexia are:Difficulty with spelling. Difficulty with reading comprehension Poor phonics awareness. Low self-esteem. Often marked by the child knowing the alphabet only by rote. Disorganized, absentminded. Acting out behavior


This involves a lack of development in the neurological system causing an interruption in the brain’s ability to communicate with the motor activity of the muscles. Individuals with this disorder have difficulty sequencing tasks, such as putting on clothes or getting dressed in the morning; also, such persons are challenged by coordination involving their hands, fingers and feet.Some of the symptoms of Dyspraxia are:Difficulty with coordination, such as holding objects including pens, pencils and crayons; and/or difficulty using their arms and hands to throw or catch a baseball, basketball or other object; and/or difficulty walking, skipping, or running. Often marked by confusion in directionality, such as not knowing right from left, north from south. Poor short-term memory Hypersensitivity to certain tactile stimuli, such as touching or holding certain fabrics or material including rayon, silk or denim. Difficulty with reading and writing, as well as math equations.

Non-Verbal Learning Disorders

Non-verbal learning disorders are neurological disabilities in which the child has difficulty communicating through facial expressions and/or body language.Some symptoms of non-verbal learning disorders are:Poor gross and fine motor coordination. Often marked by difficulty with personal space and therefore interacting with others.
Verbal Learning Disorders

Verbal learning disorders is the broad category of neurological disorders that arise from the manner in which a child’s brain stores, processes and retrieves information.Verbal learning disabilities can surface in children with a variety of levels of intelligence, including those with average, above average, or even superior intelligence. The child has a particular problem speaking, and this impacts social interaction with the outside world.Some of the symptoms of verbal learning disorders are:Difficulty processing, verbalizing and /or repeating instructions. Often marked by slowness in completing sentences, tasks and/or work. Disorganized in their thought processes, reasoning and/or problem solving. Poor short-term and/or long-term memory. Often developmental delay in motor functioning and/or language & communication skills. Poor social judgment, weak peer relationships, inappropriate behavior and poor adjustment to environment.

Goals and Objectives

Goals of an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) are to utilize an array of assessments to produce strategies for learning. Often, a structured environment and/or non-public school are required. Tutoring is also considered a strong adjunct to the classroom setting. Assistive technology may be an additional tool to assist the child in learning; some of these modalities include but are not limited to: quiet separate testing room, assistance with reading, books on tape, assistive technology, assistance with writing and spelling during exams and papers, extended time on exams and assignments, time shifting of exams, assistance with classroom note taking, alternative testing format, access to alternative format of material, and assistance with time management.

Due Process

Children’s due process rights are also at stake in the school environment. Such rights raise questions about unreasonable searches and seizures, whether a child can be subjected to corporal punishment, and what rights apply to a child who has been suspended or expelled. Issues concerning students’ rights to be safe in and around the school continue to emerge as tragic incidents of school violence increase.


Main Offices
8880 Rio San Diego Drive, Suite 800
San Diego, CA 92108-1642
Telephone: 619-583-0350
Fax: 619-583-1850

Call (619) 583-0350 or send us an e-mail.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

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