When I embarked upon my legal career, being a special education attorney was not initially on the radar. I did not have one clue that special education law was even a thing! I quickly learned! I specialized in criminal defense for almost a decade, including juvenile defense (looking back I realized how many kids unidentified with disabilities were improperly prosecuted and blamed for acts rooted in disability rather than criminal or mischievous intent.) when suddenly I was taken on an involuntary journey that changed the trajectory of my life and ultimately my career. At six weeks old my eldest son, Brandon, was diagnosed with a congenital brain disorder (Focal Cortical Dysplasia) a malformation causing catastrophic seizures (Infantile Spasms) detrimentally impacting his physical and intellectual development. Initially, I was paralyzed with fear and unsure as to which direction to take. But after grieving what was essentially the death of the child I had dreamed of I then began the process of reorienting the course of our lives with the goal of meeting my son's every need taking center stage. As I am sure all parents of special needs children do, I spent countless sleepless nights staring at the ceiling at 2:00 a.m. in search for answers. Paving the way to effectively help my child in every way I could permeated my every thought. I immersed myself in learning everything I could about the brain, special education advocacy, and whatever services existed to help my son conquer his disability to the maximum extent possible. I effectively fought the school district ultimately winning the battle to fully include him...and later applied my personal experience and learned valuable lessons with the same commitment and vigor to the re-shifting of my career. The representation of children with disabilities and the assurance of their meaningful inclusion is more than my job, it is my mission.
In my journey with my son the change of my professional course suddenly became inevitable when I came across so many helpless and desperate parents that were unsure how to access the proper services for their children. They were unaware and uneducated about the special education system and its very complicated and entangled inner workings. The reality was and continues to be that parents are not often given all of the correct information or informed about the available and proper tools by their school districts. Districts are too often not candid about the various types of support and services that can and should be offered. Unfortunately, often the services offered your child are based on a cost/benefit analysis, and one that does not first and foremost consider your child's best interest. I crossed paths with parents eager to help their children but were given misinformation time after time. When I learned how easily special education children can fall through the cracks because they are not treated as the law so clearly mandates, I inevitably and almost organically realized my calling, and although I had embarked on the road to special education law long before on a personal level, I decided to do so officially, and I started my own law practice in 2009. So I became a special education attorney, in the most important and rewarding path of my life. I knew that what I did and continue to do for my son to ensure his utmost success and best life, I could do for the children of no shortage of families in need - and I knew these families could relate to my experience and draw benefit and comfort from it. So I set out to help as many parents as I encountered whose desire to help their children was and is as insatiable as mine.
Sometimes the barriers we face seem unconquerable - but the deep love for our extra special children and the desire to see them succeed is our primary motivating force for anything that we do. It is not easy, but it is a fight worth fighting and one you should not continue to fight alone when your efforts appear fruitless with the continued neglect of Districts to take proper measures to help your boy or girl. Know that with the proper support and tools, the right education for children with disabilities is possible with the ultimately goal of a fulfilling and independent life to the maximum extent possible. Allow me to share with you the wealth of knowledge and information that I have acquired along the way of this life transforming, beautiful and heart-wrenching journey. Below I share with you some very helpful pointers that I believe are imperative elements for parents to apply in special education advocacy.
The biggest and most important piece of advice I can offer you is to BELIEVE IN YOUR CHILD, no matter what the diagnosis, disability or challenge he/she is facing. You must set a high standard and believe that your child can accomplish more than anyone thinks possible. If you give up on your child and start the process with low expectations then everyone gives up on your child. As difficult as it sometimes is, your mind set must be one of eternal optimism. Believe that your child is going to be very capable of achievements despite what therapists, doctors an especially school officials tell you. Set that accomplishment bar very high and keep it steady! The school administrators, mediators and Administrative Law Judges must first see your child, not his/her diagnosis or disability and that is up to you to show them. When the school district is telling you that there is no funding, specific classrooms, and/or personnel services available to help your child, and when you hear (which I promise you will) "We don't do that," do not believe it and do not accept it! It's not a matter of "we don't," it is a matter of "you must" if it meets the individual needs of your child. Your strong believe that your child can be successful as long as these services are provided is what will keep you determined to fight for them! It is the resilient and relentless will of parents that yields success in meeting their children’s unique academic needs. We are here to help you navigate that daunting and complex maze. Remember - There is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of non-equals.
20 years, 1,500 cases
|Award name||Grantor||Date Granted|
|Outstanding Leadership and Dedication Award - Gala Chair||Autism Speaks||2018|
|Formidable Advocate Award||Inclusion Matters by Shane's Inspiration||2017|
|Attorney||Law Offices of Georgianna Junco-Kelman||2005 - Present|
|Attorney||Law Offices of Jonathan I. Kelman||1998 - 2005|
|Association name||Position name||Duration|
|Inclusion Matters by Shane's Inspiration||Member Board of Directors||2014 - Present|
|Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates||Attorney Member||2010 - Present|
|Autism Speaks Southern California||Member Board of Directors||2009 - Present|
|CBS Local||Parents Claim Families Breaking Residency Rules To Enroll Kids In Popular Studio City School||2013|
|CNN||Treatment or Torture- Scarred for Life||2012|
|Whittier College School of Law||JD - Juris Doctor||1998|
|Univ of California at Los Angeles||BA - Bachelor of Arts||1995|
|Television Segment||Steph Curry Makes Brandon Kelman's Dream Come True||2016|
|Intercare Agency Knowing Your Rights||Special Education - Knowing Your Rights||2011|
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