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The Special Ed Advocate is our free online newsletter about special education legal issues, cases, tactics and strategy, educational methods that work, and Internet links.
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1. Update on Wrightslaw Projects
One year ago, we sent the draft of our book, From Emotions to Advocacy, to the editor. A few weeks later, she met with us and advised that we had "too much book."
She recommended that we divide "the book" into three books – one book written mainly for parents, one book geared to the needs of attorneys and advocates, and a law reference book that will include special education laws, regulations, and selected cases.
Over the past few months, we shifted our attention to on the special education law book – tentatively called "The I.D.E.A. Book: Special Education Law." We expected to finish "The I.D.E.A. Book" in the fall. Unfortunately, the final regulations implementing IDEA 97 have not been released yet. We are in a holding pattern until the regulations are available.
The IDEA Book includes the full text of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, along with the implementing regulations. The book also includes Pete’s commentary on the laws – along with dozens of "parent tips."
As a subscriber to The Special Ed Advocate newsletter, you will receive an "Alert" when the Department of Education issues the IDEA regulations. As a subscriber, you will also receive updated information about publication dates for our books.
Thanks for your patience and encouragement.
2. News Flash! Judge Rules for Disabled Youth
Jason Galofaro "eats, sleeps and breathes hockey" - but the Massachusetts Interscholastic Association refused to allow him to play hockey on his hometown high school team – and perhaps win a college scholarship. Because Jason has a learning disability, he attends a small school that does not field a hockey team.
In December, a Massachusetts judge ruled that not allowing Jason to play for Hudson discriminated against him because of his disability.
Judge Smith ruled that Jason would be eligible to play for Hudson High if he were not disabled and would lose a great deal if not allowed to play, while the MIAA would "suffer no significant harm."
"This is the best Christmas present Jason could get," said his mother, Rose Galofaro. "He was so used to being told no, he was anticipating the worst. He’s ecstatic."
Hours after the ruling, Jason donned his skates for Hudson High on Tuesday afternoon, taking part in a practice session.
3. Letter to the Webmaster: School Psychologist Warns Parents About "Blind Trust"
"I am a school psychologist and find parents’ blind trust of "professionals" most frustrating. When a parent tells me that they aren’t educated and . . . I remind them that they are THE advocate for their child and encourage them to read and understand their rights as the protector of their son or daughter.
"Too often, the results of my work show areas of deficit that require specific remediation. After the student is brought into a special education program, nothing happens – except regression.
"Most behavior problems (90-95 percent) are directly related to years of inappropriate "remediation" with no positive result. The child becomes a teen and sometimes becomes violent in order to escape these chronic feelings of failure. If only parents knew the stories that are told in IEPs and test results!
"I encourage you to continue. It is only through loss of $$ that schools will begin to realize their accountability . . . too soon forgotten. More and more often, I ask myself how can I continue to work for a system that has such a negative impact on children? Thanks for the ear."
4. Update from Debbie: Kevin Learns to Read
A few months ago, we corresponded with Debbie about her son, Kevin (see below). Kevin is a seven year old boy who has autism. A few days before the holidays, Debbie sent us this news.
Two weeks ago, I heard talking from his bedroom and peeked in. Kevin was sitting in his chair, reading a book out loud to himself. For more than a year, Kevin said "I can’t read. The words get mixed up." Seeing Kevin read on his own was an experience that brings us incredible joy.
We had Kevin’s parent-teacher conference recently. He is excelling in math and science. He consistently aces his modified spelling list tests. The other students in his class like him and seek out his company. His teacher and aide agree with us that reading is the most important priority for this and next year. And I believe we will accomplish what we intend, that Kevin will be a fluent reader by the beginning of 4th grade.
I cannot tell you what these things mean to our family. Kevin has a real chance to get an education, to be a part of the school community, to grow up as a "regular" kid.
His dad and I fought to make it possible, but we couldn’t have done it without your help.
The information you provide on your web site is making a positive difference in the lives of children.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Debbie from New York
5. Letter to Webmaster: HELP! The School Won’t Let Me . . .
My 5 yr old son was videotaped at school (without my knowledge) for the purposes of a functional behavioral analysis. At first I was told I could view this tape before the next IEP meeting. Later, I was told that I would not be allowed to see the tape of my son due to confidentiality for other kids on the tape. (The tape has already been viewed by a behaviorist and the school psychologist.)
I thought the law states that a parent should be advised of all assessment tools used to make an evaluation and that parents should be viewed as an equal participant in the IEP process.
I believe I can contribute more to this process if I am allowed to view the tape and see what happens before and after my son’s behavior.
How can I get the school to let me view the tape?
I considered paying someone to edit the tape (with a fuzzy black blob over the other kids faces to protect their identity). Please help.
What should Linda do?
6. Dr. Quentin Griffey writes to say "Thanks!"
"I received the latest edition of your newsletter and just want to tell you how much it’s appreciated. I teach special education at Pfeiffer University and often use your articles in class discussions."
"As you know, 1998 has brought many changes. You have stayed right on top of things, as much as is possible!"
"I have subscribed to your newsletter for about a year and continue to find it to be one of the best resources on the net."