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The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
February 5, 2001

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Issue: 102
ISSN: 1538-3202


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1. Issues in Special Education Litigation (Perspectives, Winter 2001)

Question: What do Pete Wright, Margaret Kay, Emerson Dickman, Brice Palmer and Sonja Kerr have in common?

Answer: These five individuals - three attorneys, one psychologist, and one advocate - are contributors to "ISSUES IN SPECIAL EDUCATION LITIGATION" published in the "Perspectives" newsletter by the
International Dyslexia Association (IDA). These contributors are also members of the Council of Parent Advocates and Attorneys (COPAA).

Pete is the Theme Editor for "ISSUES IN SPECIAL EDUCATION LITIGATION" that includes the following articles:

"Theme Editor's Summary: Issues in Special Education Litigation" by Peter W. D. Wright, Esq.

"This issue of Perspectives which focuses on special education litigation and how to use the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to secure appropriate educational services for children with dyslexia . . . IDEA-97 emphasizes parental participation, accountability, and use of research-based educational approaches."

"Theme editor Peter W. D. Wright was diagnosed with strephosymbolia (now known as dyslexia) in 1954. He received intensive Orton-Gillingham remediation from Diana Hanbury King and Roger Saunders. In 1993, he successfully argued Florence County v. Shannon Carter before the U. S.
Supreme Court. (Perspectives, Winter 1994).

He co-authored Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, the leading book about special education law. Mr. Wright is a frequent speaker at IDA and other conferences.

---------------
"Special Education Law, IEPs, and Tactics Issues" by Peter W. D. Wright, Esq.

This article provides an overview of special education and disability law, the Individualized Educational Program (IEP); goals, objectives and benchmarks; SMART IEPs; and tactical issues in special education litigation. Pete writes, "Having the law and facts on your side does not guarantee success in special education litigation. Equally important are how the issues are framed and presented, i.e., the 'spin.'"

----------------------
"How to Prepare a Psychoeducational Evaluation Report and Testimony As An Expert Witness" by Margaret Kay, Ed.D, NCSP, DABPS

Dr. Kay writes, "Psychologists need to be aware that although all parents want what is best for their children, the use of the word 'best' is often the 'kiss of death' in special education litigation. Never use the terms 'best' or 'most appropriate' in your reports and testimony. Instead, explain that if your recommended appropriate program is not provided, the child may be damaged -- and explain the nature and impact of such damage."

---------------------------
"Lay Advocacy in Special Education" by Brice L. Palmer

In this provocative article, advocate Brice Palmer discusses lay advocacy, and the recent decision by the Delaware Supreme Court that lay advocate Marilyn Arons was guilty of the "unauthorized practice of law:"

"Parents of disabled children invest their hopes in a system of education that 'we the people' have said will no longer tolerate leaving disabled children on the outside of the public school - not to be educated and forever sentenced to a subculture as discarded, dependent adults . . . There continues to be an acute need for zealous, ethical, objective advocacy for the protection of the civil and educational welfare rights of all qualified disabled children."

Read more articles by Brice Palmer at Wrightslaw

-------------------------

"Dyslexia and the Aptitude Achievement Discrepancy Controversy" by G. Emerson Dickman III, Esq.

Mr. Dickman describes the use of the discrepancy formula as "negative, pervasive and insidious." Experts at the National Institutes of Health and U. S. Department of Education know these formulas are inadequate, but school districts continue to use them -- often with tragic consequences for children who do not receive the services they need until it is too late.

------------------
"Special Education Litigation" by Sonja D. Kerr, Esq.

Sonja Kerr's article demystifies special education due process hearings. She discusses how hearings are conducted, how to request a hearing, the role of hearing officers, other ways to resolve disputes, and the need for parents to understand procedural safeguards.

NOTE: In addition to her work for IDA, Sonja Kerr is President of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA).

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If you would like to get a copy of this issue of Perspectives about Special Education Litigation, please contact Margaret Palmer of IDA. We understand that IDA will send newsletters to individuals upon request, and will change a small fee for printing, shipping and handling.

But, if you join IDA - like Pete Wright, Peg Kay, Emerson Dickman, Sonja Kerr, and Brice Palmer - you'll never miss another issue of "Perspectives."

Email: mpalmer@interdys.org
Phone: 410-296-0232


2. 4th Annual COPAA Conference: Get the word out!

Pete Wright, Peg Kay, Emerson Dickman, Brice Palmer and Sonja Kerr are also members of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates COPAA.

The 4th Annual COPAA Conference will be held March 8-11 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Arlington, VA. For information about the conference, speakers, and to register, please visit the COPAA site.

The Wrightslaw staff designed a printer-friendly COPAA Conference Flyer (in pdf) for printing and distribution. Help us get the word out!

Also check out the new Wrightslaw flyer !


3. Wright's Conference Schedule

We've updated our conference and speaking schedule. Here's a quick overview:

March 8-11: 4th Annual COPAA Conference, Washington, DC

March 30-31: "10th Annual Best in the Northwest" by the Autism Society of Washington, Yakima, Washington

April 19-21: "5th Annual NLD Symposium," Monterey, CA

April 26-27: "The Power of One Autism Conference and Rally," Washington, DC

May 4-5: Columbia, SC. Pro Parents of South Carolina

For information about these conference, please visit our schedule page.

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Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
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Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
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Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
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Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
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