Focus of the Practice
The practice is primarily focused on representing the parents of children identified with disabilities in due process hearings, appeals to state review, and in federal court. Our firm is well-experienced in representing clients in IDEA due process hearings, Section 504 hearings, disciplinary proceedings and state and federal courts. The firm uses a team approach, accessing the array of experiences of the attorneys to handle each matter.
Parents of students with disabilities must deal with the complicated special education process related to referrals for services, evaluations, development of the Individualized Education Programs (IEP), and implementation of services. Often, it is necessary for parents to engage lawyers to protect their rights and the rights of the child.
When the Committee on Special Education (CSE) makes decisions that a parent believes do not address the child's needs, the parent has a right to challenge those decisions. The primary mechanism for these challenges is the due process hearing.
The primary activity of the firm is representing parents in these due process hearings. Representation in a due process hearing involves evaluating the records, drafting the complaint, attempting to resolve the matter through settlement, and in those cases that do not settle, representing the parent throughout the process so that an impartial hearing officer (IHO) can decide what is appropriate to address the child's needs. These hearings are much like trials, although something less formal, with an IHO acting as the judge. These hearings require detailed preparation, coherent presentation of the facts, and comprehensive legal briefing. The firm has successfully represented hundreds of parents in due process hearings.
On occasion, the decisions of impartial hearing officers are appealed to the Office of State Review, when the parent or the district believes the decision of the IHO is incorrect. The firm handles these appeals for parents. This process involves detailed review of the records and transcripts and preparation of a petition and legal memorandum that comply with the rules of the Office of State Review. The firm has represented parents in over sixty appeals to the Office of State Review.When a the parent or district believes that the State Review Officer (SRO) decision is incorrect, an appeal to state or federal court is available. The firm has extensive experience representing parents in these court appeals.
Representing Teachers in Disciplinary Proceedings:
The firm represents teachers in disciplinary matters. In providing this representation to teachers the firm ensures that the due process rights of the teacher are protected at each stage of the proceeding.
Representing Students in Disciplinary Proceedings:
The firm represents students in disciplinary proceedings, in order to protect their due process rights and access to educational services.
Appeals to the Commissioner of Education
Parties aggrieved by a decision of a school district or school official concerning education matters may appeal to the Commissioner of Education. These appeals often relate to student discipline, school funding, residency and attendance.
Complaints to the State Education Department
The IDEA. provides for a formal complaint process to address matters related to the provision of a free, appropriate public education to a student with a disability. These complaints are an alternative to the due process hearing mechanism.
Limitation of Resources
Many special education law firms focus a great deal of their efforts on participation in the IEP development process, attendance at IEP meetings, and other advocating activities. The Law Office of Andrew K. Cuddy focuses primarily on representing parents in special education due process hearings. We generally do not have the personnel resources to attend IEP meetings with parents. On occasion, we do participate in IEP meetings, but rarely. Parents looking for advocacy assistance should look elsewhere. A resource to locate a lay advocate is www.copaa.org .
Andrew K. Cuddy
Direct telephone: 716-868-9103
Andrew K. Cuddy graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1987, where he attended on a Navy R.O.T.C. (Marine Option) scholarship. Upon graduation he was commissioned into the U.S. Marine Corps. He served on active duty for nearly five years and is a combat veteran of the First Gulf War. After active duty, Andy attended the University at Buffalo School of Law, while remaining active in the Marine Reserves. During this time, as a reservist, Andy served in Somalia. He graduated from law school in 1996 and was admitted that same year. He remained active in the Marine Reserves until 1996 and attained the rank of Captain.
Andy initially practiced criminal defense law. In 2001, a criminal case with overlapping special education issues introduced him to the special education problems families were experiencing. He began representing families in these matters, and in a very short time this area of law took over his practice. He now devotes his practice to represent families of children with special needs. pro hac vice in order to represent families outside of New York. He has initiated due process hearings against roughly 100 school districts across New York State. He speaks publicly on the topic of special education law routinely for various entities. In 2007 Andy wrote The Special Education Battlefield: A Guide to the Due Process Hearing and Other Tools of Effective Advocacy.
As the firm's founder, Andy has grown the firm to meet the increasing demand for special education representation. To meet this demand, Andy has brought together attorneys with key litigation skills and combined those skills into an effective team.
Andy lives with his fiancée Shoby and their two boys Danny and Deonsay.
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. District Courts
- Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western Districts of New York
- Northern District of Ohio