Our firms mourns the loss of parent advocate Annmarie Robinson
It is with great sadness that we share the passing of a member of our staff, Parent Advocate, Annmarie Robinson (nee Lessman), on Wednesday, March 23, 2022. 

I have known Annmarie for well over 30 years. She first came to me seeking assistance in securing help for one of her children. Ever a fighter for her kids, that experience and the insight she gained in fighting for what he needed, led her to become an advocate for one of the pre-eminent special education advocacy programs in the Midwest, the federally funded program Designs for Change. In that capacity, Annmarie not only represented individual families in special education disputes, but conducted numerous trainings of parents, educators and others seeking to learn about advocacy. Further, she began to work organizing local community groups to develop community-based advocacy organizations.  

She and I kept in touch and after a few years, she joined my law practice, where she worked continuously for over 25 years. She and her husband, Rob, actually moved to Branson, MO, several years ago, but she kept working with the firm and helping some of her closest and longest clients until, finally, fully retiring this past December. Annmarie was not only a great advocate, but she was astute at figuring out what kids needed, giving parents fresh perspective on how to help their children. She could relate to the problems of her clients. She shared their tears, but she also gave them the real scoop, even when they might be uncomfortable hearing it. 

At the same time, she became well known and respected by many school administrators, as she was fair, honest and straight forward about what needed to be done, often finding solutions that had escaped everyone else involved. She was especially skilled at pointing out someone's outrageous conduct in a way that just seemed obvious and forced them to acknowledge what was right, without making them feel defensive. Often, her advocacy was laced with a bit of humor and an equal dose of sarcasm. For our staff, she was a wealth of information and a fount of wisdom, as well as a personal and professional advisor. She will be greatly missed by all of us. Burial plans are still being finalized and will be announced when available. -- Matt Cohen
The “Behind the Door” podcast hosts Matt Cohen discussing everything special ed  
Matt Cohen joined the Behind the Door podcast for two episodes to discuss all things special education. The podcast hosts real life conversations about special education advocacy generally and the crisis in mental health services for kids and their families. Co-hosts, Julie Joyce and Nancy Sussman are moms on a mission to advocate, inform and share mental health resources. Thanks to Julie, Nancy and everyone at Behind the Door for the engaging conservation. You’ll want to give these a listen. 

U.S. Education Secretary Cardona reminds schools they must protect students with disabilities as COVID precautions ease 
During the pandemic, schools had difficulty providing special education services to the nearly seven million American students who are legally entitled to receive them. While the resumption of in-person school and lifting of mask mandates is being welcomed by a large segment of the population, it poses risks for students with disabilities.
Under federal law, school districts must provide students with disabilities a “free and appropriate public education,” which includes a healthy and safe learning environment. U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona recently reminded school districts of that obligation. Read more from US News and World Report and read Secretary Cardona’s letter. 

San Francisco public school opens it doors to the community’s homeless families
In the heart of one of San Francisco’s most exclusive neighborhood, boasting high-end restaurants and boutiques, a public school serving many low-income, English language learners opened its doors to families experiencing homelessness. Many in the trendy neighborhood complained and wondered why it was the school’s responsibility to take on the problem.
“How could we not?” the school’s principal countered. “We have the space that’s not being used at night, a warm, dry, big enough space that would allow service, but it’s also a space that’s known and trusted by students.” Read more from the Guardian.
Two years of pandemic, inflation and now war leave Americans stressed out, poll shows
A new poll finds that Americans in general, and especially parents, are stressed out to the max by the pandemic, financial woes and now the war in Ukraine. More than 70 percent of parents said they worried the pandemic has impacted their children’s mental health and emotional development. This mirrors an increase in emergency cases our firm is experiencing.
"This is a particularly difficult time for parents right now," one psychologist says. “As parents, our job is to try to get these little people to healthy adults and give them the skills they need to move forward. We are in uncharted territory about how to do that." Read more from NBC News.
Recent firm successes

  • Obtained district placement at therapeutic day school, with district transportation, and compensatory education for 6th grade student who was bullied in school.
  • Received district payment for tuition at a private computer based academic program (not ISBE approved) for two school years.
  • Spear-headed effective collaboration between the family and their clinicians and the school team to generate an IEP with robust, meaningful, measurable goals.
  • Successfully advocated for a change in placement to a therapeutic day school for a high school student experiencing significant social-emotional challenges.
  • Coached a family to effectively advocate for a therapeutic day school placement for their child with academic, executive functioning, and social-emotional difficulties.
  • Successfully advocated for an initial IEP for a student with executive functioning and social-emotional challenges. 

We're hiring: Join the Matt Cohen and Associates team
Matt Cohen and Associates needs help at all staff levels to meet our increasing caseload. We are hiring for four full or part-time positions: attorney, office/clerical staff, advocates and a social media coordinator.

Our office is primarily working remotely now, but periodic in-person office work may be needed. Read more.
Office news and updates

Matt Cohen again has been selected by his peers as a 2022 Illinois Super Lawyer, a distinction he has held since 2007.

Matt also has once again been selected by his peers as an Illinois Leading Lawyer for 2022. The distinction of being a Leading Lawyer has been earned by fewer than 5 percent of all lawyers licensed to practice law in Illinois.

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," will appear in the 15th edition of the guide.

Matt Cohen & Associates has been selected the Best Local Business for the 2021 Best of Chicago Awards. The award recognizes the firm's commitment to community service.
School is in session - Time for an
IEP Checkup! 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 tami.kuipers@gmail.com

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

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