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1. "Word Banks & Calculators"- Pete Answers Questions About Accommodations and Modifications
Many newsletter subscribers have questions about accommodations and modifications. When should they be used? When should they NOT be used?.
Kelly, who says she is a "regular education inclusion teacher," writes:
"My question concerns the Related Services and Supplementary Aids page of the IEP. If a modification is marked, is the regular ed teacher required to include the modification on every test or activity they create? For example, if "word bank" is marked, does the teacher have to include a word bank on everything? And what about a calculator? Can the teacher give an assignment where students are not allowed to use calculators?"
Pete answers Kelly’s question, then raises some questions of his own.
What is Pete’s biggest gripe about special education?
Why should children learn their multiplication tables?
Who is Diana Hanbury King? Who is Harry Lorayne?
What can we learn from Helen Keller?
2. Letter to Wrightslaw: "I Have a Question About My Child's IEP."
"I have requested that my daughter's IEP Team add goals and objectives that pertain to the PECS in her IEP."
(NOTE: PECS refers to the Picture Exchange Communication System which is used to help non-verbal children communicate.)
"They told me it is against Federal Regulations for them to mention a specific system in an IEP."
"My daughter has been very successful using this system for the last 12 months in a private school setting. When she attended the private school, the IEP included specific goals and objectives relating to the PECS.
"I need to ensure that the public school staff use PECS as an alternative means of communication with her."
"I’ve searched in the IDEA for something that says specific systems cannot be mentioned in the child’s IEP but have found nothing. Can you help?"
You say "They told me it is against the Federal Regulations to mention a specific system in an IEP."
That’s news to me! I haven’t heard that excuse before.
The school is saying they would be violating the law if they mentioned using the PECS in your daughter’s IEP?
Is it against the law to say that a child with mobility problems will need to use a wheelchair to get around? Or that a child with vision problems will need wear glasses? Of course not.
If your daughter has communication problems and uses the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), this relates to her disability and should be included in her IEP. There is no reason to omit the PECS from her IEP unless they don’t plan to use it, and don’t want to tell you this straight up.
Take your copy of WRIGHTSLAW: SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW to the next IEP meeting. Ask them to show you where it says this in the statute or regulations. (You’ll find information about how to order WRIGHTSLAW: SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW later in this newsletter )
The federal regulations are on our web site. Here is a link to the Index page which has links to the different sections
3. Letter to Wrightslaw: "Help! I'm Polarized!"
I have become polarized. How can I find someone to act on my child’s behalf who can be the lightning rod? I have contacted my state's advocacy and protection group. They can’t help – they are only taking disciplinary problems at this time.
For years and years, other parents have gone down the same road, traveled the same paths as you are now. These paths CAN lead out of the woods and forest.
These parents have found psychologists, experts, advocates, and attorneys who can help. Other parents are out there –they are your best resource.
You can find help by joining several local and state disabilities organizations. There are groups that represent the interests of the different disabilities – Learning Disabilities Association (LDAA), Autism Society of America (ASA), International Dyslexia Society (IDS), Alexander Bell Association, Tourette Syndrome, Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC), Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (ChADD), Down Syndrome, and others.
If your child has a very unique condition and you cannot find an organization in your area, use a search engine like Yahoo, Alta Vista, Dogpile to find the national organization.
Join others who are struggling with these same issues. The solutions to problems will be similar, regardless of the nature of the child’s disability.
Re: being polarized. It’s good that you can recognize this. Take a deep breath, slow down, and regroup. I’ve found that children are often more resilient than their parents.
Get a copy of "How to Argue and Win Every Time" by Gerry Spence (it’s in our bookstore).
Jump to Chapters 8 and 9. Read about
the mother who talked to the Board of Supervisors about a dangerous
country road. You need to learn how to present issues or problems
– this is essential to success.
4. Creative Solutions Contest - Links
Our first Creative Solutions Contest was a huge success. Before long, we’ll send information about the next Creative Solutions Contest so watch your email box.
We announced the Contest Winners on a Saturday night. Since then, several people wrote to request updated links so here they are -
Creative Solutions Contest #1: Summary and Winners
The Creative Solutions Contest winners were John Willis and Becky Milton – a great team!
John Willis is co-author of the "Guide to Identification of Learning Disabilities" (1998 NY State ed.) (Acton, MA: Copley, 1998); author of "Diagnosis: Developing Informed Reading Assessments and Interpretations" in S. Brody (Ed.), Teaching Reading: Language, Letters, and Thought. (Milford, NH: LARC Publishing, 1994). Dr. Willis has taught courses for the University System of New Hampshire and Antioch/New England Graduate School and presented numerous workshops to teachers and psychologists.
Becky Milton is the parent of a child with a disability. Her advocacy journey began 10 years ago when her son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. Becky and her son have walked down a very rocky road.
We asked Becky to provide us with some biographical information. She sent us a powerful story about shame, humiliation, and empowerment. If you missed Becky’s story
5. News Flash! Feds Slam California
According to a new article in The Special Education Observer, the U. S. Department of Education issued a Monitoring Report about serious, ongoing problems in California’s largest school districts.
These problems are not new. In 1996, the U. S. Department of Education issued a report about similar deficiencies in California’s special education system.
Attached to the Monitoring Report was a letter by Judith Heuman, Office of Special Education Programs, to the California Superintendent of Public Instruction.
In her letter, Heumann cited California’s failure to "exercise its general supervisory responsibility over local school districts in the State . . . serious deficiencies have been allowed to exist for a number of years . . . resulting in long-standing, serious noncompliance."
The Monitoring Report is on the homepage of the California Department of Education, Special Education Division. (You'll have to hunt to find it ) To read this report, go to
You can also read a comprehensive article about problems in California’s special education system at the Special Education Observer’s site:
"Findings Document More than a Decade of Mismanagement: Feds Slam California Special Education"
6. Wrightslaw: Special Education Law - New Reviews
WRIGHTSLAW: SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW continues to receive favorable reviews.
From SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGY RESOURCES ONLINE:
This is a practical, affordable book written by an attorney who is a nationally known expert in special education law.
Peter Wright argued and won the landmark Florence County School District IV v. Shannon Carter case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Here, the Wrights present the full text of IDEA 97 interspersed with Pete Wright's valuable comments on the law and its interpretation. This alone makes the book a worthwhile purchase. In addition, there is the text of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Family Educational Records and Privacy Act. Landmark U.S. Supreme Court Decisions are also presented and discussed.
If you are involved with special education, you should read this book. I am looking forward to the next book, From Emotions to Advocacy, referred to in the back cover.
School Psychology Resources Online
FROM THOM HARTMANN (AUTHOR OF "ADD: A DIFFERENT PERCEPTION")
"Brilliant and necessary for anybody with special ed issues Pete and Pam Wright have pulled together one of the most important how-to manuals ever written for navigating your way through the morass of special education, and for using the law to demand/get a good education for your child. (Pete is the attorney who argued and won the "Shannon Carter" case before the Supreme Court, putting ADD/ADHD on the map.) Highly recommend you get and read this book: it's a gold-mine of information." (On Amazon.com site)
Internet Store: To place an order on our secure Internet store, follow this link -
Toll-Free Fax: Print the order form, fill in the requested information, and fax toll-free to 800-863-5348. Fax modem users can "save to file" this form, input the correct information with a text editor, then fax.
Toll-free Phone: Call toll-free 877 LAW IDEA (877-529-4332) between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time. After 5:00 p.m., leave your name and phone number on our toll-free voicemail. We will call you on the next business day to confirm your order.
AMAZON.COM: If you prefer, you order from the Amazon site (search for "Wrightslaw") at
7. Advocacy Challenge Program
Several people have written to request information about bulk orders for advocacy training. Here are the details of the Advocacy Challenge Program:
In the Advocacy Challenge program, people who teach advocacy classes OR provide other forms of advocacy and/or training OR book distribution may order units of 20 books for half price.
Normally, the cost for 20 copies of Wrightslaw: Special Education Law is $599.00 ($29.95 each). With the Advocacy Challenge Program, the cost for 20 books is just $299.50 plus shipping (which is very inexpensive, especially if you use parcel post rates).
In the Advocacy Challenge Program, the minimum order is 20 books. Participants can order 20 books, 40 books, 60 books, etc. (one box contains 20 books).
If you need more information, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org