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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. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Issues New Decision on Attorneys Fees in Erickson v. Bd. Educ. Baltimore County.
"The statute provides that
[i]n any action or proceeding brought under this subsection, the court, in its discretion, may award reasonable attorneys' fees as part of the costs to the parents or guardian of a child or youth with a disability who is the prevailing party." 20 U.S.C.A. § 1415(e)(4)(B) (West Supp. 1998)."
This means that parents who prevail in special education litigation may be reimbursed for their reasonable attorneys’ fees.
But what happens if the prevailing parent is also the attorney who represented the child? This is the question that the Fourth Circuit wrestled with in "Erickson v. Board of Education for Baltimore County"-
"This case presents the question of whether attorney's fees are to be awarded for the legal services performed by an attorney in obtaining special education benefits for his child under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The district court held that there was no entitlement to fees in these circumstances. We affirm."
2. Legal News: Cedar Rapids v. Garret F.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in November, they have not issued a decision in "Cedar Rapids v. Garret F." We will continue to monitor news from Supreme Court and will send an announcement to newsletter subscribers when the decision is issued.
3. NEW! Letter to Wrightslaw from a Florida Mom
"We finished our due process hearing yesterday. Your website was such an integral part of my life and my case for so many months. You seem to be a part of the process for me."
"I want to thank you for the support during those dry months in the wilderness. You were an oasis of information for me."
Last week, we received this email from a Florida Mom. She shared thoughts and experiences from her due process hearing – and at one point, she wrote, "It was all I could do not to laugh."
We asked her to write a short article that will include resources and advice for parents about how to handle "challenges" from the school district.
4. Help Needed in Bombay, India.
On January 17, 1999, Jeanette Fernandes of Bombay, India left a detailed message on our new "Feedback" page. She said that her son was just diagnosed with dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia but "has excellent reasoning power and his spoken English language is excellent."
"Here in India, invisible disabilities like LD are not understood or recognized and there are no such things as IEPs that you may have in the west."
"He is extremely talented in the field of computers and wants very much to graduate in Computer Engineering . . . If he were to apply to an American university would he have trouble getting him admission there because he is an international student (Indian) and because he is also LD?"
Jeanette had other questions. Do you have any advice for her? To read her message and messages from others at the Feedback page
Scroll down to the end of this page to get to the Feedback page.
Please send your responses directly to her at email@example.com - feel free to send us a copy of your email.
5. COMING SOON! The Special Education Survival Guide
In the January 6, 1999 issue of The Special Ed Advocate, we gave you a progress report about our books. We had shifted our attention away from the parent book and onto the book about Special Education Law. Because we expected that the final regulations would be issued several months ago, we planned to make the "The IDEA Book" available in 1998.
Unfortunately, the final regulations implementing IDEA 97 have not been released. The law book is on the back burner. We have returned our attention to -
The Special Education Survival Guide – OR
The Wrightslaw Special Education Survival Guide.
Depending on editing and revising schedules, The Wrightslaw Special Education Survival Guide should be available this Spring. As a subscriber to The Special Ed Advocate newsletter, you’ll receive an announcement about pre-publication offers. We are building a new page for the website – you’ll be able to go to this page to check on the status of books.
6. FIVE STARS to "Teaching the Tiger"
"Teaching the Tiger: A Handbook for Individuals Involved in the Education of Students With Attention Deficit Disorders, Tourette Syndrome or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder" by Marilyn P. Dornbush and Sheryl K. Pruitt.
"The best practical reference book for educators who work with students with Tourette Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder, and/or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder" says one reviewer.
"The authors do an excellent job of explaining how these disorders affect emotions, thought processes, and overt behavior . . . educational techniques are practical, "everyday useful," interventions."
"It's definitely not just for the special educator - counselors, social workers, school psychologists, classroom teachers, and paraprofessionals will find it a useful resource."