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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.
We publish this newsletter occasionally, when time permits. Back issues of The Special Ed Advocate are archived at our web site -
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1. The COPAA Conference inspired us.
Effective advocates must learn how to do legal research - so we added "Primer on Legal Research" to the site. This article, written by Stacy Stern of FindLaw, includes dozens of excellent links. The article begins -
"The Internet is becoming the best library ever with vast amounts of information available at only a click of the mouse away. While the information on the Internet often can seem unorganized and unwieldy, useful tools and guides are constantly being developed and improved to aid online research. There are a couple of basic approaches for finding information on the Web. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages. The more you use the Web for research, the more efficient you will become at locating information."
** Indexes & Search Engines **
** LawCrawler **
** Searching Within a Page **
** Finding Specific Information Online **
** Codes, Case Law, Regulations **
** Law Journals, Treatises, Commentary **
** Mailing Lists and Usenet Groups **
"There are several great sources of fresh legal news online. FindLaw provides legal news updated online day and night in our Legal News section. We have links to news sites, both legal and general, in our News and Reference section. Law Journal Extra, Lawyers Weekly and Court TV are other good sources of legal news on the Web."
"Hands on experience is the best way to get good at finding resources online. Whether you are surfing with a purpose or just for fun, your time online should prove useful for future searches. FindLaw offers online continuing legal education courses on finding law on the Internet for those interested in becoming more familiar with some of the excellent legal resources on the Net."
2. LETTER TO WRIGHTSLAW: "I NEED TO REQUEST A HEARING . . ."
"I need to request a due process hearing. What should I do to prepare?"
Here is some excellent advice from a Vermont advocate -
"I take direction from Otis the Wonder Dog regarding the chase: If you do not plan and organize the pursuit, you are likely to wind up as road kill."
"Your job is to present your case in an organized manner that gives the decision maker enough good factual information to reach a conclusion in your favor. For purposes of planning and organization, I suggest that you assume the decision maker (even if an employee of the school district) can and will make an objective decision based on the facts of the case."
3. LETTER TO WRIGHTSLAW: MARYLAND MOM IS SPED!
Dear Pete and Pam Wright:
I am the mother of a profoundly language learning disabled 15 year old and have been battling the system for 8 years. I was recently involved in a dispute with the school. With information from your site and good legal representation, our nightmare will end soon.
We have successfully gotten the local system cited by the state twice in key issues. My son is now in a Blue Ribbon School and is getting the best program in his school career.
This could not have been accomplished without information from your site, LD Online -
And a copy of IDEA-97 from the U. S. Department of Education's IDEA site, AND a state Department of Education that is really interested in the kid's welfare.
Most of all, the knowledge that you can fight the Big Boys and win if you are determined enough and do your homework is a source of empowerment when the chips are down. It is important to know more than the school personnel (sometimes this is not hard) and not be afraid to quote the law and stick by your guns.
If you and the other advocacy sites will keep on showing us parents in the trenches that we can succeed, then - like our kids - we will.
I made up a acronym for Special Education Mothers: SPED Moms.
S=Seriously, P=Persistent, E=Eternally, D=Dedicated. Look out for us!
4. EDITOR'S CHOICE: LEGAL RESEARCH AND WRITING
1. "Legal Research: How to Find and Understand the Law" by Stephen Elias & Susan Levinkind. A step-by-step guide: learn what's in a law library and how to use it; find and update statutes, regulations & cases; how to explore online resources; practice legal skills in the library; write a legal memorandum.
2. "The Elements of Legal Writing" by Martha Faulk & Irving M. Mehler. This easy-to-use primer lays out 135 principles of clear writing, dictation, tone, grammar, syntax, organization, and format. Filled with illustrations and before-and-after examples from the legal world, the book is both a welcome refresher for the practicing lawyer and an indispensable reference for anyone in the legal profession.
You can find more information about these books at the Advocate's Bookstore