name is James Brody. I have a learning disability called dyslexia. I
go to Landmark School in Prideís Crossing, Massachusetts. Landmark School
specializes in educating kids like me. Before I started going to Landmark,
I was in a special education class at my public school. The teachers
didnít know how to teach kids with dyslexia so they didnít teach me
how to read or write.
I started at Landmark, everything changed for me. I learned to read.
At Landmark, I read my first book from start to finish. My parents
asked our school system to pay for my tuition at Landmark School but
they refused. After they refused, my parents filed for a special education
Due Process Hearing. This is my story about what it was like to go
through a Due Process Hearing.
many thoughts going through my mind before the trial, such as "Oh
No! Iím going to have to dress up in uncomfortable clothes." Then
I thought, "Well, Iíd better start reading the testimony of my teachers
to see what they said about me." My mother and I spent evenings reading
over their depositions and discussing what we read. (Note: Before
the due process hearing, the school board attorneys took discovery
depositions of Jamesí teachers at Landmark School.)
I read the testimony, I thought that it was going to be pretty easy
to testify. I also felt that the phone conferences stunk because of
the time delay caused by the speaker phones and because there was
a lot of repeating the same information.
of the trial arrived. Of course, since I have a noctural nature, I
was extremely tired, as usual. My father, mother and I were all nervous
about what was going to happen on the first day of trial.
was actually a conference room in a small building in the village
where I live. There was one table in the front at which the Judge
sat. Ten feet from the Judgeís table there were two other tables.
The school board attorneys and the director of special education sat
at one table and my family and our attorneys sat at the other. (Note:
James' attorneys were Pete Wright and Stacey Bawthinheimer.)
were extreme temperature rises and drops in the room because the air
conditioner was not set at a constant temperature and also was not
working properly. This effected everybody in the courtroom by either
making them sleepy, laid back, on edge, or nonchalant.
the actual trial I thought it was pretty weird that two total strangers
were counted as expert witnesses for the other side and were allowed
to sit in on the whole trial. I was confused since our two expert
witnesses didnít sit in and listen to the trial.
witnesses for the other side said what they thought should have been
done for me. I felt like they should have been removed from the courtroom
and only allowed to come in when it was their turn to testify. I wondered
who were these people who were making judgments about me when they
didnít even know me and had only read reports written by other people
who didnít really know me. This made me extremely angry and frustrated.
I was called to testify, it was fairly easy because my lawyer is a
Pro at court and preparing witnesses to take the stand. He told me
little secrets or strategies, whatever you would like to call it,
to help me improve my concentration while on the stand. For example,
he said "Look at a spot on the wall when the lawyer is asking a question,
even if it is your own lawyer. When the lawyer is done, look the judge
in the eye and answer the question." He also gave me other little
hints to help me through the trial.
I was on the stand, I got pretty hot and had a dry throat. So, if
you ever have to testify, you should have a glass of water and hope
that the courtroom has a working air conditioner.
trial went on, I started getting used to hearing my name being mentioned
every five minutes and hearing about reports about me. All in all,
I felt pretty proud of myself that I was able to make it through the
last year at my public school, considering the amount of stress I
though it was extremely stressful, I felt that I did very well through
the entire process. I was able to take the stand and answer all the
questions to the best of my ability. I was very happy that my family
filed for due process against my school district so I could go to
a school that specializes in helping kids with dyslexia. Landmark
has changed my life.