Ashley VanCleef is not only an experienced education law attorney but also a certified special educator. She has served students with disabilities as special education teacher, school and state level administrator, and school attorney. Prior to forming Law for Parents, Ashley's experience as a special education attorney included working for the Law Office of Brian K. Gruber, staff attorney for Montgomery County Public School in Maryland, as well as Supervisor and 504 Coordinator for the Resolution and Compliance Unit. Ms. VanCleef instituted informal, collaborative solutions to assist families and school system staff to resolve concerns through the least adversarial means focusing on win-win resolutions. As an attorney for parents, she continues to find dynamic approaches to resolving concerns with student-focused outcomes.
Ms. VanCleef's experience also includes serving as as a resource teacher for middle schools, nonpublic schools, and compliance in Howard County Public Schools in Maryland. She provided training for special educators on instructional frameworks and interventions, administration of the Woodcock Johnson assessment, writing/conducting individualized education programs (IEPs), and compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Additionally, she worked as a case manager for students placed in nonpublic settings and served as a member of the Central Educational Placement Team (CEPT). Prior to moving to Maryland, Ms. VanCleef worked for the state departments in Texas and Oklahoma. Her many duties included compliance monitoring of school districts, technical assistance for families to access the dispute resolution options of IDEA, and providing statewide training on special education requirements. Ms. VanCleef is a member of Maryland State Bar Association, Frederick County Bar Association, International Dyslexia Association In her spare time, Ms. VanCleef enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering.
- Education Law
- Civil Rights
- Special Education law
- Credit Cards Accepted
- English: Spoken, Written
- Principal Attorney
- Law For Parents, LLC
- - Current
- Law Office of Brian K Gruber, PC
- - Current
- Montgomery County Public Schools
- University of Baltimore
- J.D. (2011) | Education Law
- University of Central Oklahoma
- B.S. (1998) | Special Education
- State Bar of Maryland
- National Association of the Deaf
- Advancing Member
- - Current
- Activities: Deaf Business Advocates Section
- International Dyslexia Association
- - Current
- Frederick County Bar Association
- - Current
- IEP and 504 Plan Legal Workshop, Columbia, Maryland
- National Business Institutes
- IEPs and 504 Plans: A Legal Compliance Guide, Rockville, MD
- National Business Institutes
- IEP Goal Progress Monitoring: Ensuring Legal Compliance A. What the IDEA Says About Progress Monitoring B. Documenting Progress C. Reporting Lack of Progress VI. Avoiding Common IEP Errors and Mistakes A. Predetermination on IEPs B. IEPs with no Meaningful Educational Benefit C. Failure to Document Changes in Placement Decisions D. Failure to Properly Include Parents in the Process
- Routes to Resolution, Accessibility Summit 2017, McLean, Virginia
- National Business Institutes, FBAs and BIPs: An Essential Legal Guide
- Law For Parents
- IEP Look Fors
23 March 2019
- Preparing for Parent Teacher Conferences
6 November 2018
- New Guidance from Maryland State Department of Education
27 March 2018
- Parent Consent Part 2: Alternative Assessments and Alternative Education Programs
13 January 2018
- Parental Consent in the IEP Process. Part 1: The Basics
12 November 2017
- IDEA Regulations Updated Again - Finally MR is replaced with ID
15 July 2017
- Updates to IDEA Regulations
3 July 2017
- IDEA Amendments Address Discipline Disparities
16 December 2016
- When Do I Need a Special Education Attorney?
29 September 2016
- Q. Can I file charges against the school for not protecting my son?
- A: Bullying should be taken very seriously by schools. It is important to report and document the bullying on the school bullying and reporting forms. The laws vary by states but Federal guidance can be found here https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/frontpage/pro-students/issues/roi-issue06.html. If the bullying is based upon the student's disability, race, sex, color, or national origin, be sure to indicate as such in the report to the school system.
- Q. My 8 y/o has been physically assaulted in class many times. Admin is aware and done nothing. Can I take legal action
- A: School systems are required to act upon reported acts of bullying. School systems have bullying forms posted on the websites and paper copies are available in the school buildings. This is the best way to document what is happening and to hopefully have administration swiftly take action. If the school administration does not act on your report, you can escalate the concern to their supervisors at the central office level and to the Maryland State Department of Education. Whether there is a personal injury claim depends on whether the school staff act on the report or not and whether there is any negligence on the school system's part that could be contributing to a child's injuries.
- Q. Is there any way to stay in Howard County middle school until the end of this school year if you moved in January?
- A: HCPSS Policy 9000 explains how tuition is assessed as follows: A student who becomes a nonresident, because the parent(s) with whom the student resides move out of Howard County during the school year, may complete the current school year at the school in which the student is enrolled. Tuition may be assessed based on the following: a. If the student becomes a nonresident prior to the fourth marking period, the student will be allowed to remain for the duration of that school year only and tuition will be assessed. b. If the student becomes a nonresident during the fourth marking period, the student may attend for the rest of that school year tuition free. c. For a student who becomes a nonresident after achieving Junior status, the student will be allowed to remain at the student’s current school through graduation upon payment of tuition. If a family were to move during the 4th marking period, the student may continue to attend tuition free. Otherwise, tuition is assessed. There are some exceptions and the opportunity to request tuition waivers for financial hardships.
- Q. If a student fails a grade and becomes an adult (age 19), can a school refuse to take the student back and insist they
- A: If the student has not graduated with a diploma or obtained a GED, they can still attend school through the age of 21 as long as they are not 21 years old on the first day of the school year. There are many protections available for students with disabilities as well as those who can be considered homeless.
- Q. What due process are high school students entitled to if the school is trying to suspend them?
- A: Depends on the length of the suspension. For short term suspensions, there are 3 basic elements required. 1. Notice of the offense being charged. 2. opportunity for the student to refute the charge. and 3. an explanation of the evidence supporting the charge. For long term suspensions or an expulsion: 1. written notice of the charges, 2. full evidentiary hearing, 3. right to legal counsel or adult representation, 4. opportunity to present witnesses and evidence, 5. opportunity to cross-examine witnesses (this does not include students), and 6. record is created for appeal purposes.
- Q. My grandson is a special needs child. His Civil Rights are being violated by the school he attends.
- A: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act require schools to locate and identify students with disabilities. This is called Child Find. Your daughter should seek professional guidance as to which plan your grandson might qualify for and how to purse that with the school district. Students with disabilities have heightened protections against bullying that has been explained in guidance provided by the Office for Civil Rights.
- Q. Are students allowed to be held and questioned at school without a parent present?
- A: It depends on who is holding the student and asking the question. School officials such as the principal may question and ask students to write statements related to school incidents.