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1. Battle Over High Stakes Testing: Indiana Judge Asked To Grant Injunction So Seniors can Graduate
High expectations for students? Fairness? Accountability? Most people have strong opinions about these issues. Think you have the answers? Read on.
With the increased emphasis on improving educational quality, and the requirement to "improve educational results for children with disabilities," battles are being waged in several states.
Last week, the Indiana Civil Liberties Union asked a state judge to grant an injunction that would prevent Indiana from requiring special education students to pass an exit test before receiving a high school diploma. To receive a high school diploma, this year's graduating class must pass Indiana's exit exam or receive a waiver.
We asked Indiana advocate Pat Howey about the issues in this case.
Read our new article about high-stakes testing that includes links to other resources.
2. Delaware Supreme Court Hears Oral arguments In Advocate's Case
Parent advocates and attorneys have been waiting for a decision in the Marilyn Arons case. Parents should pay attention too. If you have a dispute with the school about your child's special education, you may need to request a due process hearing. If you are like many parents, you can't afford an attorney. Even if you can afford legal representation, many parents find that they cannot find an experienced special education attorney.
Marilyn Arons was an advocate for parents and disabled children in New Jersey for many years and successfully represented parents at due process hearings. A few years ago, she moved to Delaware where she continued to represent parents.
When she continued to win cases against seasoned school board attorneys, the Delaware Bar concluded that she was guilty of the "unauthorized practice of law" -- and shut her down. Arons appealed.
Last month, the Delaware Supreme Court heard oral arguments in her case.
School districts have legal representation -- paid for by the taxpayers. If advocates are not allowed to represent parents, what can parents do if they cannot find an attorney or afford one?
Which issue of "public policy " is more important? Should courts protect parents from advocates who may not be well trained? Should courts protect the rights of parents who need help to get appropriate programs for their disabled children?
Celia Cohen wrote an article about oral argument in the Arons case, "Preventing Overdue Process." Information about how to access this article is at the Wrightslaw site.
3. Kindergarten Teacher Awarded Damages In Whistleblower Case
On May 16, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ordered an Oregon school district to pay $12,000 in damages to a kindergarten teacher in a "whistle-blower case."
After the teacher raised concerns about asbestos and PCB exposure in two school buildings in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, she received negative performance reviews. Later, she transferred to another school.
At her new school, a light fixture ignited and leaked a substance that contained PCBs. The teacher filed a complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
OSHA ordered the district to pay the teacher $7,500 in compensatory damages and $4,500 for legal fees. The superintendent of West Linn-Wilsonville School District says the district appealed OSHA's ruling.
(Source: Education Week, May 31, 2000)
4. Update: Free CD-Rom From Wrightslaw
Today's mail included this letter:
"I just received my Manual and CD-ROM and have found it to be extremely parent friendly and useful. The searchable CD-ROM is awesome! I can find things easily on it."
"My son is 12 and has Down syndrome. He is being successfully included in fifth grade. My wife and I are his advocates. Thank you for this very useful reference."
Several folks have written with questions about the "FREE CD-ROM OFFER." We know that for every person who writes, many others have questions.
How can you get the FREE COMPANION CD-ROM?
Purchase WRIGHTSLAW: SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW (ISBN: 1-892320-03-7) from a retail bookstore between May 18 and June 11.
1. Your SALES RECEIPT that includes the ISBN # or the title of the book, purchase price, date of purchase (between May 18 and June 11, 2000) AND the name and location of the bookstore;
2. Your name, shipping address, telephone number, and email address.
You'll receive the FREE COMPANION CD-ROM (value: $19.95) at no additional cost.
Don't procrastinate! This Offer ends on June 11 -- in five days!
Feel free to forward this Offer to a friend. Get a printer-friendly copy of the FREE CD-ROM Offer.