What can an educational consultant do for you as an expert witness in a relocation, custody change, or simple divorce? An educational expert can be a secret weapon and have significant impact on a judge's decision.
By Dr. Judith Greenberg, Educational Consultant
What can an educational consultant do for you as an expert witness in a relocation, custody change, or simple divorce? By comparing the feeder schools (elementary, middle and high school- public or private) in the mother’s and father’s boundary schools, it is possible to show the court the most appropriate person to be a primary decision maker and thus have legal custody of the child(ren). It also helps in cases in which a 50/50 parenting plan has been decided. Comparing schools helps to determine which school system is best for the child. There are always interesting turns and places to look for information. For example: How many sex offenders live within a few block radius of one of the parent’s home and school district? Who moved first and went to the district location without following the parenting plan? What are the scores for each school as to Adequate Yearly Progress, under No Child Left Behind Act? Which school has a higher graduation percentage?
A consultant can use these sources, all of which can be found on internet sites but they do not usually make sense to a non- educational professional. Yes, anyone can find the information, however the interpretation of such evidence and an opinion of an expert makes a world of a difference.
Even pre- schools are vastly different and can be discussed, examined and cross-examined. Every state has these statistics, yet not every attorney uses the information to the best possible advantage.
Judges will actually mention the information from the educational expert as a reason for their decisions. The vast differences in school programs are amazing and easy to chart, so the attorneys and judge can see the differences and respond in a favorable decision.
An educational expert can testify to what type of elementary, middle or high school the child attends. If it is a general education school that specializes in special education, it is likely that there is no gifted and talented program. What if a child in the family is gifted? That would not be the best school for him or her. If the child has special needs, a consultant can read the IEP or 504 plan and testify as to whether or not the school is meeting the needs of the child, or if another school placement is needed. An educational consultant can interview parents, grandparents, teachers, principals and get a good picture of the child and the school. If the child is interviewed, an educational consultant can do it and also interview other professionals working with the student. An educational consultant typically uses these strategies and the report will often trigger one parent to settle or give the judge the necessary information to give custody and/or locate the child in your client’s school district. If you have never used an educational expert, try it; you might like a secret weapon.
Judith Greenberg, Ph.D. is an educational consultant, who has many years of experience as an expert witness in divorce cases. Her website is www. schoolfinders.net .