Article Featured in Special Needs Living Indy August 2023 Digital Issue, by Angie Arlington
Margaret Jones, J.D., is the executive director of Disability Legal Services of Indiana. Margaret, along with other attorneys and parents, founded the organization in response to a concern over the lack of educational advocacy and legal services for children and adults with disabilities in Indiana, particularly in education law.
Disability Legal Services of Indiana (DLSI) provides free and low-cost legal assistance and educational advocacy to help ensure low-income Hoosier students with disabilities reach their full potential. DLSI’s goal is to improve the educational outcomes for students. For the past 12 years, DLSI attorneys have empowered students with disabilities by successfully advocating for their access to an appropriate education.
"Data from the Indiana Department of Education indicates that over 180,000 Indiana children are receiving special education services,” Margaret shared.”The laws governing special education are complex and parents often need assistance to understand their rights and responsibilities. DLSI provides that assistance and empowers the student, and their parents, to have a voice in their education. We also provide free disability education law seminars to groups when requested.”
“I love the work we do,” she added.”It combines my love for education, my respect for the law, and my passion to help children reach their potential.”
DLSI assists families with educational matters involving IEPs and Section 504 plans and can address a variety of other issues, including a student’s eligibility for special education services, the appropriate level of the services, educational placement issues, and discipline matters. DLSI’s work helps break the cycle of poverty by improving the educational outcomes for students with disabilities in Indiana.
“DLSI provides legal assistance and educational advocacy, yet we also support meaningful collaboration between families and schools,” Margaret said.”We know the value of a strong parent-school relationship. With our assistance, parents work with the school to obtain effective educational programs for their children.”
DLSI is looking for passionate and dedicated board members to provide leadership and vision to help DLSI achieve its goals. Opportunities for board involvement include fundraising, marketing, and strategic planning.
"I love the work we do,” she added.”It combines my love for education, my respect for the law, and my passion to help children reach their potential.”
“In the Spring of 2022, I spent over a month calling numerous law offices to assist me with my son’s educational matter. I was redirected several times. The last time I was very blessed to have made contact with Mrs. Margaret Jones with Disability Legal Services of Indiana or DLSI. She met with my son and me. She was very attentive, patient, and understanding. I was very pleased with her work and professionalism. Within less than a month she successfully and collaboratively resolved our matter with our school district. I could not thank her enough. She listened to me cry and sob a few times. She made me feel like she was in my shoes and understood me completely. I would highly recommend DLSI to any family needing legal help.”
“Margaret and Mimi, of DLSI, were wonderful to work with. They showed such compassion in such an emotionally challenging time in our lives. They both were thorough in explaining everything every step of the way. They both made it possible for my daughter to get the education she is entitled to.”