Sept. 30 is deadline to receive Student Specific Corrective Action (SSCA) from CPS 
Previous E-Newsletters have provided an overview of and updates on the Student Specific Corrective Action (SSCA) system that the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is using to offer cash payments to students who were denied special education services due to illegal district policies during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years. Matt Cohen and Associates is an active member of the advocacy group that brought the initial complaint against CPS to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and we continue to work directly with CPS, ISBE, and other advocates to ensure that students who were harmed by these policies receive a remedy.

The deadline to file a SSCA claim is Sept. 30, 2022. Although this deadline has been extended in the past, it will NOT be extended again. We have prepared guidance to help you understand and navigate the claims process. Read more from Matt Cohen and Associates. 
Driver shortages, poor planning plague CPS back-to-school bus service
As the first day of school was approaching, thousands of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students were at risk of having no bus service. The district was struggling to fill 400 bus driver slots and offering families of special ed and homeless students a $500 stipend to get to school on their own. Read more from Block Club Chicago. 

CPS was blaming a shortage of drivers for bus rides of up to two hours (each way) for some special education students. But parents suspect the driver shortages are being exacerbated by the district’s poor planning.

“It’s super hard as a parent to justify putting your kid through four hours on the bus to get to school,” says one mother. “It’s just really hard.” Read more from the Sun-Times and watch Matt Cohen and Associates’ Parent Advocate Christine Palmieri discuss the problems on Fox News.

And Take Action: Send an email to CPS Board President Miguel del Valle and CEO Pedo Martinez demanding better transportation for students. 

CPS kicks off new school year with staffing worries
As CPS kicked off the 2022 - 2023 school, district leaders insisted they would be able to at least meet last year’s staffing levels. But as of the first day of school, the district had yet to hire 500 new intervention specialists and resignations were double the prior year.

One principal said a 6th grade classroom had no teacher so the intervention specialist is covering it, rather than providing services to students who need help recovering from the pandemic. “For something that’s costing so much money, there’s been no support,” the principal said, asking to remain anonymous to speak freely. Read more from the Sun-Times.

National teacher shortage? Not yet, but conditions exist for crisis in the near future 
While most students, fortunately, were greeted by a teacher when they returned to their classrooms this fall, conditions exist across the country for a severe teacher shortage, especially in schools serving high-needs and Black and Brown students.
Teaching is a high stress job, fewer people are training to become educators and a recent study found that 62 percent of administrators blamed the pandemic for hiring challenges. Read more from Chalkbeat.

Chicago schools see uptick in COVID cases as school reopens without masks
Like most school districts, CPS dropped the mask mandate that had helped protect students and staff from COVID infections in school buildings last year. Not surprisingly, the district saw an uptick in cases during the first week of school.
That has doctors worried because vaccination rates still lag among children, who can get seriously ill from COVID. Watch the report on ABC-7.

What would a 15,000 drop in student enrollment mean for Chicago Public Schools funding
Researchers predict that CPS enrollment could drop by some 15,000 students, to just under 300,000. Given the district’s per-student budgeting formula, that could spell more budget cuts and layoffs at schools.

But some analysts think the situation is not so dire. They note that property taxes are the district's main source of revenue and those funds are not dependent on enrollment. Neither is state funding. Read more from WBEZ.
Congress refuses to shore up home and community-based services providers
Medicaid home and community-based service providers had hoped the Inflation Reduction Act passed and signed by President Joe Biden would include a $400 million investment to shore up services. But the current legislation includes zero funding for programs that many say are at a crisis point.

“We are concerned that absent an additional investment in the HCBS program, individuals with I/DD continue to be at risk of losing access to services or remaining on states’ growing HCBS waiting lists, waiting years and even decades for services,” says one advocate. Read more from Disability Scoop. 

Upcoming webinars and presentations

Matt Cohen and Associates is hosting a two-part IEP workshop led by MCA Attorney William Hrabe and MCA Advocate Elizabeth Hooper.
Part 1: Understanding Your Rights and Recognizing Red Flags, Sept. 28, noon - 1:30 p.m. Free. Register in advance.
Part 2: Advanced Advocacy Strategies, Oct. 12, noon - 2 p.m. $50. Register in advance.
Matt Cohen will be presenting at Star Net Region IV on Thursday, Sept. 15,
from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The title of his presentation is "Addressing Challenging Behavior: Legal rights and responsibilities -- strategies for building a behavioral safety net." Please register in advance.

Matt Cohen will be presenting at the Illinois Statewide Transition Conference on Nov. 3. The title of his presentation is “The Challenge of Finding Hope for Our Kids and Ourselves!”

Using his research and experience as an advocate and parent, Matt will address the challenges people face in dealing with disabilities and the importance of identifying, confronting and accepting painful realities. More details about the conference can be found here 

Matt Cohen  will present at the Dec. 7 Illinois Institute for Continuing Education 6th Annual Special Needs Institute. He will speak on "What an Estate Planning Attorney Should Know About Special Education Law." 

Recent firm successes
  • After an autistic student was inappropriately placed in a CPS classroom in a non-neighborhood school, we were able to successfully advocate to change the placement so they would be included in their neighborhood school with a dedicated paraprofessional to facilitate greater inclusion in regular education classes.

  • Secured continued placement at private therapeutic day school for student with severe intellectual and communication needs. When she matriculated to high school, the new district attempted to move her to an inappropriate in-district placement. After filing a hearing request, the district agreed to maintain the student’s placement.

  • Secured a transfer to an appropriate therapeutic day school that comprehensively meets the needs of a young man including specialized learning disability related needs.
  • Supported a family to navigate a change in eligibility for a high school student with complex learning, social and emotional needs.
  • Successfully requested reconsideration of a decision by the Association of American Medical Colleges related to a request for accommodations on the MCAT.

  • Secured district placement at Acacia for the upcoming school year as well as compensatory funds for private evaluations, transportation reimbursement, and attorneys’ fees.

  • Successfully negotiated with school district to amend student’s records to remove inappropriate evaluation/results.

Office news and updates

Matt Cohen has been ranked as one of America’s Most Honored Lawyers, in the top 1 percent, by the American Registry.

Matt Cohen again has been selected a 2022 Illinois Super Lawyer, a distinction he has held since 2007.
Matt also has once again been selected an Illinois Leading Lawyer for 2022, a distinction earned by fewer than 5 percent of all lawyers licensed to practice law in Illinois.
Matt also has been named an Avvo top lawyer for 2022.

Matt once again is a contributing author for the K and W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities, published by Penguin Random House. His article, "10 Things College Students with Disabilities Need to Know About their Rights," appears in the 15th edition of the guide.

Matt Cohen & Associates was selected the Best Local Business for the 2021 Best of Chicago Awards. The award recognizes the firm's commitment to community service.
Summer is here...a great time for an IEP check up to prepare for next year!" Is your child's IEP giving them all they need? Does it have the right goals, objectives and evaluation procedures? Do the services and accommodations provide all they are entitled to? Click here for further details.


We offer several different brochures related to the following topics, available by calling the office: 

  • Introduction to College Accommodations
  • IEPs and 504 Plans - Navigating the Maze
  • Tips for Obtaining Accommodations for the ACT, SAT and other Placement Exams
  • Obtaining an Independent Educational Evaluation
  • Tips for Obtaining Appropriate Services for Your Child With Autism
  • Classroom Observation


Matt Cohen is the founder of the Chicago law firm Matt Cohen & Associates LLC. 

The practice is concentrated in representation of children and families in special education and discipline disputes with public schools, disability rights advocacy, including advocacy for accommodations in admissions and licensing tests and in colleges and graduate schools and legal assistance to mental health and human services professionals and the organizations they work for. 

For more information about Matt Cohen and the staff and to view this email in your browser, please visit our website.
If you have any questions, please contact his assistant, Tami Kuipers at 866-787-9270 or

A Guide to Special Education Advocacy -
What Parents, Clinicians and Advocates
Need to Know

written by Matt Cohen

published in 2009
$20 plus $4.95
to order, call Tami
at 866-787-9270 or

The material in this enews has been prepared by Matt Cohen & staff for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. We assume no responsibility for the accuracy or timeliness of any information provided herein. Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. 
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