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Not A Legal Advocate

Let this notice serve that I David P. Osterhout, LCSW, BCD am not a “Legal Advocate”. I am not trained in the field of law, nor am I an attorney licensed to practice law. I do not represent clients as their legal advisor in due process proceedings or any meetings with a school district. I do not have the ability to protect anyone’s legal rights.

My 33-year career has been exclusively dedicated to the field of mental health. My private practice of the last 27 years has been that of serving children and their families with Neuro-Developmental and Behavioral Disorders, Neuro-Psychiatric Disorders and Learning. I hold Board Certifications in Clinical Psychotherapies and Forensic Evaluations. I am a court neutral expert witness on these matters for Burlington County Family Courts. I am licensed and Board Certified to evaluate, diagnose and treat all psychiatric disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, in fifty states.

My role as a member of an IEP team is the same as any other Child Study Team member, which is to assist in developing the most appropriate IEP to meet the child’s needs. Families in my practice ask me to articulate their concerns, as a professional with “special knowledge” of their child. They ask me to help them understand the services provided to their child, so they can be equal participants in their child’s IEP. In preparing for my role in an IEP process, I have read the IDEA and the State Administrative Code. Every Child Study Team member should have this information in order to meet the child’s needs, under the IDEA. New Jersey was ranked 50th of 50 states in meeting IDEA standards for children with disabilities. This standard should concern all of us. It is especially frustrating to a parent, with a child who has a disability. Every member of the IEP team should be advocating in this fashion. Please do not confuse my advocating for a child’s needs as Legal Advocacy or Legal Representation. The information I provide is for educational purposes, not legal advice. The goal is cooperation in the best interest of the child.

When all possible recourses have been exhausted, I will support my family as an Expert Witness. I will offer recommendations of Educational Attorneys. I will work closely with my family and their attorney to achieve the Best Interest of the Child.

 

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