My name is Margaret McNair and I have been an attorney for over thirty years. There are 3 things that stir a burning passion within me: social justice, educational equity and the gospel.
Before becoming a special education lawyer, I was a full-time mother to 4, now grown, daughters. I grew up in Los Angeles and attended my local public elementary and middle schools and I graduated from Crenshaw High School. My experience at these schools was not perfect but I was safe, I was nurtured, I was enriched and I learned everything I needed to learn. From there I went to UCLA for my undergraduate degree and my law degree.
While I was in law school I met my wonderful husband, Greg, and we had our first daughter. Fast forward 12 years and 3 more daughters and I had 4 young girls in the Los Angeles public education system. But this was not the Los Angeles educational system that I grew up in. I could not be sure that my girls would be safe or nurtured. I could not be confident that they would learn the basic things they were supposed to learn in our neighborhood schools.
It took a lot of searching, praying and creativity, but we combined a few good magnet schools with a couple of parochial schools in order to get the same quality of education I received growing up in L.A. I was driving my girls to schools everywhere from Los Feliz to Santa Monica to Gardena. This wasn’t so that they could receive an elite education. It was because they were experiencing more pressure, more danger, and less support at their local public schools than I did at Crenshaw back in the day!
While all 4 of my daughters were still in school, I left my job as a deputy district attorney to be a stay-at-home mom and I was very involved in volunteering in their schools. I was aware that I had swapped a paid full-time job for an unpaid full-time job. I was also aware that I was privileged. Most parents do not have the option to stay at home. Most parents cannot devote the hours, days and years to curate an educational experience for their children. At some point I began to realize, “Okay, something is definitely not right with our system.”
Once my youngest daughter got settled in high school I resumed working outside of my home. I sought out employment that would combine my passions with my training. I got a job at a special education law firm and I found my calling. Now I am the founding and managing attorney at Hope4Families, a special education law firm. Special education combines all of the things I love: children, justice, education, ministry, homebuilding, encouragement, writing, blessing folks, and building up communities of color.
I am writing this blog because I wanted there to be a place where people could come for real talk about how to work within the special education system. I don’t want people to have to struggle through figuring out education the way I see so many parents struggling every day. I hope this can be an informative, fresh, uplifting space that provides you with practical advice, guidance, and support during your family’s education journey.