I have been watching my son struggle in school for years now. I trusted the school district and his psychiatric facility for years, following all of their suggestions and believing that they had my son’s best interest at heart. Yet, year after year, I watched nothing change and things just progressively get worse. We changed many schools because nobody was willing to take the necessary steps to help him. My son is incredibly bright but he was falling way behind academically. His behavior problems ended everywhere except for at school.
The more I voiced my opinions, the more I felt I was given some generic explanation to be pacified. The closer I looked at his IEP’s the more I realized they were all basically the same thing that did nothing to improve our situation. That is when I finally became aware that my son was not a priority for the school and I reached out for help.
We have been so blessed by Raja. Since the day I reached out to her she has shown great compassion and competence. Just in reviewing my sons academic records she was able to see all the things I was concerned about and MORE. The school has been so resistant to helping my son, and they have fought us every step of the way, but Raja has never relented. She continues to fight for my son even on days that I feel I cannot. She has given me so much hope, so much strength, and the ability to demand that my son receives the services he needs. I am so much more confident because I know that I am not doing this alone. When the school presents me with paperwork or documents that I cannot make sense of, denies a request, or verbally try to get me to agree to things, I know that I have Raja to turn to, who will clarify everything and give me the opportunity to fight knowingly, not blindly. All of the fears I had in going head to head with a school district have died. I know that Raja is in my corner fighting for my son’s rights right along with me. I have made more headway in the last month than I did in the entire 4 years I tried doing this alone. The fight is finally fair.
Any parent of a child with special needs knows what the struggle is like. We have all felt the pain and heartache in watching our child struggle and fall below their abilities. We have also felt the frustration and hopelessness when trying to get a school to help our children. I urge you, if you are in need of help, get in touch with Raja. Things change!! And the struggle is not as hard as it might seem when you have someone so caring, so passionate, so dedicated and educated in advocating for your child.
Thank you so much Raja. I will be forever grateful for you.
You have been on my mind and in my heart for some time now. Our Nathaniel has been progressing beautifully through the transition to high school, making top grades and playing on the basketball team. We are feeling so very blessed and grateful. When I look back at our journey and how far we have come, I am mindful of the people who so graciously took the time to hear our story and provide meaningful guidance and support. I remember finishing our phone conversation and feeling such confidence in knowing that I could secure the right services for my child because of you. I want you to know that I have made a "pay it forward" promise to emulate your kindness in being available to others whose children struggle like Nathaniel did. You are a blessing to the world, Raja. I am so very grateful to have crossed paths with you. I hope your journey takes you to wonderful places!
All my best,
I am the parent of a child with learning disabilities. Whoever is dealing with this problem understands very well the frustration and amount of work a parent has to overcome in order to provide help for the child. Since we learned the different way our son is functioning, me and my husband never stopped to try to find alternate ways to help him. The Jonathan Foundation came in to help at a time we were struggling to find the right placement in school system for our son. Things weren't going good, he was frustrated in school, wasn't progressing because he wasn't receiving the help he needed. Raja Marhaba, the wonderful and caring person behind The Jonathan Foundation advocated for my son, explained to us all the possibilities that he can take advantage of, showed us all the options for a better school placement that will match my son's needs. Raja showed us that there is lot of hope and great possibilities for children like my son to reach their full potential, to develop and flourish within an environment that completely brings out the best in them. Thank you very much for all the great help, the professionalism, the caring and devotion you have showed us.
To The Wonderful Raja Marhaba:
Raja, how can we count the ways that we love and adore you Mrs. Raja Marhaba. Your heart is golden. We are recipients of such a wonderful life saving gift YOU have given us. God has blessed you with extensive knowledge in dealing with the school district and IEP process. You get to the bottom line and people listen. This is a gift. I have never seen anyone do this advocacy job any better. YOU are the best at what you do. The passion you have for the children is special and something to be admired. Because of you, Justin has a chance. Because of you Justin feels so much better being Justin.Because of you Justin will be a productive citizen. Because of YOU, Justin might even go to college. Because of YOU, I can get rid of the guilt pent up all these years. Am I doing enough. I want to but don't understand the system, were the words that never left my mind before YOU. YOU are a beautiful soul! YOU are one of the classiest persons I know. YOU are someone that I want to be friends with all the days of my life. YOU are giving back to Justin as if he were your own! YOU I love!
"Thank you dearly Raja",
Raja's concern for special needs children is exemplary. She is committed to my child's outcome almost as if your child were her own. And she has fought long and hard for her own two sons with tremendous success. Her strength comes from what she experienced with her own children. She gets me. She gets my son. She gets it. She is a mother like me that understands my plight with my special needs son. Through her extensive research including: studying IEP's, students records, creating graphs and charts of all the past and present history, addressing parent concerns, reviewing prior tests and arranging new assessments...she ends up having a extremely comprehensive understanding of your child's strengths and weaknesses. Raja can know your child better than you do! What I mean by that is, that the parents are not trained to know the laws and lingo. Raja finds out more about your child's disability so she can rule out things and get closer to really helping your child. She worked beautifully with our family. She has passion and compassion for my son. Raja is one of the few in the state that has received Special Education Advocate Training Certificate sponsored by COPAA and USC. Probably the only one with past experience from achieving what she did with her own boys' school districts. She stops at nothing to do what is right for your child. I recently asked her to do a quick description of my son's disabilities even though she has only been with us less than three months. We had recently had more information about my son and his needs from the testing she recommended. I did not know how to describe the new findings. I needed to tell a new school principal an accurate description of my son, so that I can place him properly. It is almost as if she knew my child better than me. The terms that she used I had just learned from her which included the new doctor assessments. Essentially, she had a more accurate description than I could have done myself. I have learned so much more about my son. She has educated me in ways that I will know how to fight for my son after we reach our goals for the present time. My son's life will be forever changed all because of a determined woman named Raja Marhaba.
"Thank you dearly Raja",
Mother of Justin Cimoch
One of the greatest gifts that a parent can give to a child is their education. As parents we naturally wanted to do everything we could to encourage, train and support our son for his future. Mark was diagnosed with learning disabilities in 2001. We followed the advice, programs and therapies recommended by the public school district. After following their program for four years we had a private institution perform academic testing. The psychologist found that our son was four years behind in many areas of his academic program. Even though we shared all the information, scores, suggested accommodations and recommended therapies with the school district they did not incorporate any of the findings into Mark's educational program.
Mark has always worked hard and long to improve and work for his future. He has never let any shadows of his disabilities hold him back. This past summer when we received grades that showed Mark with a 3.6 GPA we again had him tested privately. The results showed that Mark, a high school freshman, continued to test on the fourth grade level; this discrepancy could no longer be ignored.
From the first day we spoke Raja has been an encouraging, compassionate and determined advocate. Raja's experience fighting for her own son's education has given her the strength, abilities and experience to advocate for the educational rights of other students such as ours.
Raja extensively learned Mark's history, his current abilities, strengths and weaknesses. She has been at all recent IEP's with researched knowledge of our school districts recommendations, negotiating with the school team for the appropriate accommodations, modifications, services and therapies that would serve our son the best. She has foiled our districts normal policy of "If the parents don't know what to ask for, then don't tell".
Most important is the peace our son has had knowing that he has Raja on his team. We are blessed.
"Tim and Stacy"
I can't put into words how thankful I am that I met Raja, and that she has been able to help me. Raja was the one who gave me the hope of a good genuine education. The circumstances in which we met are sad, but I am so happy we did.
In the beginning I trusted the school district to guide in my education. Last year I found out that all the grades I thought I was earning were just lies. I don't have trust any longer that the district has my best interests in mind.
At times during my elementary and middle school years I had some teachers who really cared and tried to help me. I wish it would have been successful. I am more behind now. I want an education so I can go to college and a have a better future. Raja has fought hard for me; she has not given up, or given in.
My son was being warehoused in his former school district. Having fought this and other successful campaigns against bureaucracies let me pass along some advice I had to learn the hard way: get help from people who know the game and know the rules. This is your first time; otherwise you wouldn't be wondering whether to hire an advocate, you'd be talking to one, a good one like Raja. If you don't know the right key words in district meetings you won't do the job for your child that you'd like to as a good parent. If you think going alone into an IEP is different than going into court without representation, you are mistaken. As a public school teacher by profession, let me save you a lot of time and trouble and needless heartache - hire Raja. You'll live longer, and that is also what your child needs. You can't "be their" for your kids if your head is in a constant chess game and your stomach in constant turmoil. Raja is smart and passionate about what she does. Without her, I don't know what we would have done. It would have been a nightmare, and like you, I was sure we in the right, that the school district would see that, admit that, and want to do what was right, decent, fair and reasonable. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. As a parent you can be all those nice things in a meeting, but either way it doesn't matter - those who don't know the laws, or don't know how to expedite them, will waste their family's time. The school district uses your tax dollars to pay for their own representation should they mess up (and they do), so what does that tell you about going it alone? There is no better feeling than having a friend in your corner - a knowledgeable, graceful, fearless friend. You've chosen to fight, which is the right choice...but there is one more...choose to win. We did. Thanks Raja.
When we were very worried and anxious about our daughter's special needs and we needed to maneuver through the maze of LAUSD laws and procedures our lovely friend Raja Marhaba helped us to understand our rights, coached us on how and what to say during the many IEP'S and fought for us and our daughter to get all the necessary services she needed. Raja Marhaba is very sharp. Strong advocate to have on your side and she is such a blessing and friend to us. Raja Marhaba is very hard working and dedicated to the children and families she advocates for.
Dear Ms. Marhaba,
On behave of my family and I, we would like to express my deepest gratitude to The Jonathan Foundation and Raja B. Marhaba for helping our family with our IEP.
We have been advocating for our child to get appropriate education for the past 13 years but two half years ago we really needed assistance. We turned to The Jonathan Foundation and Raja B Marhaba's for help. Ms. Marhaba helped us find independent evaluator's, prepare for our IEP's, help us presente our Child's needs not only in the IEP meeting but in letters following the meetings. We knew that The Jonathan Foundation staff were neither attorneys nor psychologists; but had first had experience in advocating for the needs of children with Learning Disabilities and that was worth our trust.
Thank you again Jonathan Foundation and Raja B. Marhaba for everything you did for us.
Dear Raja, Mark had expressed to us many times prior to Christmas that he wished he could have a computer. Thank you so very much for giving Mark a January Christmas. He has so enjoyed using the computer. We also feel that God gave us a warrior in you – a warrior that will help get Mark's needs assessed and moving forward. We have felt truly blessed by your generosity and encouragement. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
" Alvar & Stacy "
Dear Raja, you have such a generous spirit. Thank you for all you do, for all of us who are lucky enough to know you. May God bless you.
" Rand, Hanna & Lara "
Thank you for the computer. You were the first person to understand what I'm going through. I can't put it into words how thankful that I am that I met you and that you can help me. You were the one who gave me the hope of a good education. I know the only reason the school district is doing this to me is because of money. It is truly sad the circumstances we met but I'm so happy that we did. Your son has inspired me to keep on going in spite of what has happened to me and work with what I have to build up to a higher learning.
I just wanted to say a couple of words about The Jonathan Foundation and how they helped me in trying to advocate for my daughter Jessica. Raja was a very big help to me. I called many parent advocacy organizations, and 90% of them told me to call a lawyer or referred me to another organization. The Jonathan Foundation was like the only organization that actually helped me and gave me advice on what to do for my daughter. Even though Raja was the opposite side of the country, I live in New York; Raja was there to help me. When I felt all alone and ready to give up, she was there to lift my spirits up and tell me not to give up. Raja told me to fax my daughters IEP and psychological reports to her. She got someone to look at them, and gave me advice, and recommended what test the school should give my daughter.
When the school told me that I couldn't get certain special educational services for my daughter, Raja was there to tell me what my legal rights were, and what to tell the school. When I wasn't sure about a certain legal right I had, she would fax me the law, or information on the topic. It's nice to know an organization like The Jonathan Foundation exists, and there are people out there who are sincere, that really care, to help you. I felt Raja was very informative, and she never mislead me on anything. She told me where to look for certain information that I needed and guided me every step of the way. I have a lot to thank to that organization.
" Rhonda "
Raja, I'm so glad to have met you. I can tell you help people with inspiration from your heart. I'm sure we will touch & bless many lives working together.
" Brenda, CFO of ACE "
Raja, thank you so much for helping Aaron, he just passed his exam tests. I plan on sending you more donations.
" Diana "
Raja, thanks again for giving so much of your time yesterday. It's so refreshing to hear your story and advise especially knowing that you've been down this same path. I, like you, have an unrelenting desire to help my child grow and develop so in the end he knows that he's special, his self-esteem is strong and that he was loved every step of the way. I've been in his shoes and I know how difficult it can be. I can't thank you enough!
" John "
Dear Raja, thank you so much for coming and seeing me. You really gave me hope to keep going I just get so scared sometimes. It's people like you that keep kids like me going and to get through another day. You give me hope and the strength to believe in myself. Thank you.
" Kari "
Hi Raja, Thank you so much for all your help and great advice. We appreciate the time you spent advocating for Daniel. We would not have made as much progress if it weren't for your help. Daniel loves you and said he was proud that you were his advocate.
"Karen & Daniel"
Paul and I can hardly express the gratitude and love we have for you. You have spent endless hours of reading, preparation, and council. The first gift symbolizes your watchful and caring heart for Justin and all the others you help with special needs. In so many ways you are their "Guardian Angel." The second gift reflects our sincere thanks for everything you have done.
"Cathy, Paul & Justin"