You meet with a lawyer who decides whether it is something they will take on contingency. Sometimes what seems "very strong" to the client either is not, or does not give monetary damages. Being out of compliance often yields no money - just a directive to go into compliance. In such a case, contingency is not appropriate. But some cases shift fees to the school district. So bottom line, you need to discuss this with an attorney - I know of none who will accept a case sight unseen on contingency.
This should not be considered legal advice and is intended for educational purposes only. It does not constitute a contract for legal services between any parties. Answers are given to questions for which there may be additional facts not mentioned which might change the legal issues or consequences.
You may ask for a due process hearing to determine whether the school district is out of compliance with special education laws and regulations in a manner that negatively affects your child's program. If you are a prevailing party, you may ask a federal court to order the schools to pay your legal fees. There are no damages awardable under this system. For very strong cases, a few attorneys may consider handling your case and depend on the court for payment, or depend on a settlement with the district for payment of fees. This happens often enough that someone may consider taking your case. Talk to several special education attorneys who represent parents.
If your child has been denied services entirely and you have a very strong case, an attorney may consider bringing a Section 504/Section 1983 claim for damages. These cases are quite rare, but they are sometimes taken on a contingency fee basis.
If your complaint is about the program ittself, however, you will probably need to pay a private attorney's fees. Each state is, however, required to keep a list of free or low cost legal service providers. Contact your state's education agency for that list.
This comment is not legal advice and should not be viewed or relied upon as such. I give legal advice only in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship set forth in a written document executed by the client and by me or my firm. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. My law firm seldom provides free consultations except by prior agreement. I give advice, make recommendations and answer specific questions only after reviewing the evidence and documents applicable to a specific client and following a personal meeting either in my office or by telephone in which the relevant facts can be developed and analyzed. I strictly limit my practice to: (1) Special education matters including ARD and IEP team meetings, least restrictive environment issues, private placements, discipline, due process hearings, appeals to courts and any other issues relating to handicapped students. (2) Student issues including discipline, suspension, expulsion, corporal punishment, civil rights protections, parental and student grievances before administrators and school boards, sexual harassment, molestation and other issuess concerning a student's relationship with public schools, charter schools, private schools, colleges and universities. (3) Educator employment issues including contracts, hearings, grievances, litigation and constitutional protections. (4) Issues concerning trade schools and colleges, proprietary schools, online schools and colleges and private schools and colleges, including fraud and deceptive trade practices, misrepresentations, contracts, admissions, failure to provide required courses, materials and internships, suspensions, dismissals, expulsions, student loans and a multitude of other academic and administrative issues created by these institutions. Neither I nor my firm represent educational institutions of any kind. We are firm on this issue, so please do not ask. My practice is limited to the states of Texas and Washington except for some mediations, negotiations and special education advocacy in other states. Unless we have a signed written representation and fee agreement you are not my or my firm's client. You may use the contact information on my Avvo page to reach me.