March E-Newsletter

This E-newsletter is devoted to sharing information about special education, disability rights, mental health and human services law, political policy and research that is of importance to people with disabilities, their families, and the professionals that work with them. It also includes updates and news about our firm and its activities. We hope you find it helpful and welcome your comments and suggestions. —  Matt Cohen

Advocates urge more funding for U.S. Education Department to investigate discrimination complaints

A coalition of disability advocates groups says the U.S. Department of Education needs a major funding boost in order to keep up with the thousands of discrimination complaints it receives. The department received 18,804 complaints alleging discrimination in 2022, 6,390 of them related to disability discrimination.


“For years, insufficient funding has been presented to justify either protracted or shallow responses to complaints,” the groups said in a letter to President Joe Biden. “Incomplete justice or justice delayed are both justice denied." The Council of Parents Advocates and Attorneys, of which Matt Cohen is a board member, is one of letter’s signatories. Read more from Disability Scoop. 

Except for hermits, none of us is truly independent

A severely disabled and medically fragile junior at Columbia University writes about what it takes for him to attend college, the aids, technology, doctors and medicine he needs. He will never be independent, he says, but no one really is.


“I am not independent and, with the possible exception of hermits and desert island survivors, neither is anyone else,” he writes. “We all need friends, and we all rely on strangers who fabricate and maintain the world around us.” Read more from Chalkbeat.

CPS parents still frustrated with lack of busing

Since August, CPS has only been providing busing to students with disabilities and those who are unhoused. But parents of students who attend magnet and selective enrollment schools are pushing back.


CPS says it is trying to hire more bus drivers and is providing Ventra cards to families who are entitled to transportation but don’t have it. Read more from the Chicago Tribune.

Teacher absences, lack of substitutes puts strain on school districts

School districts are seeing more teacher absences and not enough substitutes to fill in. A superintendent of one school district said it used to be rare for his teachers to exhaust their sick days. But, now, it’s common. Read more from the New York Times.

Wilderness therapy camps drawing more scrutiny in wake of alleged abuse

Wilderness therapy camps took off in the 1990s and, during the pandemic, gained popularity. But families and former residents of the camps, who call themselves “survivors,” say abuse and neglect is common.


"We weren't aware of all this," says one parent of the conditions she learned her daughter had suffered at one camp. "I would not wish this on anybody, knowing what I know now.” Read more from USA Today.

The 26th COPAA Annual Conference will be held in Atlanta March 6 through 8, offering up to four days of in-person training with the nation's leading special education attorneys and advocates. This valuable training and networking event is top notch. Consider joining the conference to learn, network, and be part of this special community.

Matt will be presenting as part of a four-person team presenting a Boot Camp on State and Local Legislative Advocacy on Thursday and Friday. Find more details and registration info at the COPAA.


Upcoming Webinars

Therapeutic Placement and Extra Curricular Activities

Wed., March 20, noon to 1 p.m.

Join MCA Attorney, Jill Calian, and MCA Advocate, Christine Palmieri as they discuss how to get your child placed in therapeutic day school.

Register in advance.

Homeschooling and Homebound IEPs

Wed., April 17, noon to 1 p.m. 

Join MCA Attorneys Matt Cohen and Brad Dembs, as they discuss

options for non-traditional education — home school, home-bound IEPs, home hospital supports — and how to advocate for each.

Register in advance.


LGBTQ+ Youth and their Educational Needs

Wed., May 22, noon to 1 p.m.

Join MCA Attorney Brad Dembs to discuss the legal and practical tips on how to advocate for LGBTQ+ youth, particularly those with mental health issues or other disabilities, in school. 

Register in advance

You will receive an email with instructions on how to join the webinar after you register. Our webinars are provided free of charge. 

Recent firm successes
  • Obtained a dedicated aide for a student entering middle school with vision, attention, and motor challenges. 

  • Advocated on behalf of family to overcome administrative obstacles that were preventing a student who is too unwell to attend school from accessing homebound instruction. 

  • Obtained school funding for placement of high school student in a specific therapeutic school offering a setting appropriate to meet the student's emotional needs. 

  • Successfully advocated for inclusion of district BCBA on IEP team to guide FBA evaluation and BIP, allowing for student to remain in least restrictive environment. 

  • Successfully advocated for IEP eligibility, services and supports including a dedicated aide, direct social work and occupational therapy related services.  

  • Obtained placement and transportation at district expense to therapeutic day school for student with specific learning disabilities, including compensatory education, reimbursement of expenses and attorney fees.

  • Successfully advocated for a transfer of a life skills (cluster) classroom to a lesser restrictive co-taught environment with dedicated aide support for a middle schooler with autism. 

Office news and updates

Matt Cohen has been ranked as one of America’s Most Honored Lawyers, in the top 5 percent, by the American Registry for 2023.

Matt Cohen has been selected a 2024 Illinois Super Lawyer, a distinction he has held since 2007 that is awarded to only 5 percent of Illinois attorneys.


Matt also has once again been selected an Illinois Leading Lawyer for 2023, 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 2023.

The new (16th) edition of K&W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Differences is out. Matt Cohen once again is a contributing author with his article, “The Rights of College Students with Disabilities: Myth vs. Reality.” 


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

Join Our Mailing List
Quick Links
Matt Cohen CHADD Membership Support Fund 

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. 
We would be pleased to communicate with you via email. However, if you communicate with us through the Web site regarding a matter for which we do not already represent you, your communication may not be treated as privileged and confidential. Do not send us confidential, proprietary or other sensitive information until you speak with one of our attorneys and receive authorization to send that information. Matt Cohen is providing this enews, the information, listings, and links contained herein only as a convenience to you.