The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
March 5, 2001

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Issue: 107
ISSN: 1538-3202

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1. From Wrightslaw: A Call To Action!

When Congress reauthorized the IDEA in 1997, they strengthened the role of parents. Congress intended to ensure that families had meaningful opportunities to participate in educating their children at school and at home. (20 U.S.C. § 1400) All decisions about the child's educational program and placement would be made jointly by the child's parents and school officials.

Is IDEA-97 working as Congress intended?

On February 28, Congress held a hearing, "Special Education: Is IDEA Being Implemented as Congress Intended?"

The hearing was chaired by Congressman Burton whose grandson has autism. Congressman Burton discussed the struggles his daughter has experienced in getting educational services for his grandson. He wants to hear from you before March 15 (details below).

Lilliam Rangel-Diaz (National Council on Disability) wrote a widely-distributed report about the hearing. Read her comments about the testimony of the school board attorney and parent attorney Gary Mayerson. Learn who provided support and comfort to the school board attorney after
she was questioned by the Committee members.

Find out why Lilliam wrote, "Thank God for little boys like Christian."

Lilliam inspired us to issue this CALL TO ACTION. If you are the parent or grandparent of a child with a disability, please download and read Lilliam's report.

If you are a teacher or special education service provider, or your work brings you in contact with special education (juvenile court, child welfare, immigration agencies), please download and read this report.


What are your experiences with special education? Congress wants to know.

AFTER you read Lilliam's report, please send a letter or email about your experiences to Beth Clay.

Please send us a copy of your letter at action@wrightslaw.com

We'll publish some of these letters in a special section of the Wrightslaw site. Please write today! If you wait, it's likely you won't get around to it. If you don't speak up now, you may not get another chance. The window of opportunity is open - until March 15.

Many people have trouble writing powerful, effective letters. For help, download "The Art of Writing Letters" .

Visit our site for more advocacy information.

2. Update on Class Action Suit About :High Stakes Testing"

On February 1, we sent an Alert, "Learning Disabled Students Settle Class Action Lawsuit Against Oregon." The case has national implications for high stakes testing.

Link to a summary of the settlement agreement from DRA

The folks at Disability Rights Advocates posted a questionnaire about the effects of high stakes testing. They want to gather data and track emerging trends within states. Please complete this online survey.

The Oregon settlement included a 42-page report by a panel of experts, including recommendations to ensure that students with learning disabilities are treated fairly on high stakes tests. The experts' report
is part of a new publication, "Do No Harm: High Stakes Testing and students with Learning Disabilities."

You can order a FREE bound copy of the "Do No Harm" report. Please share this report with your school board, state legislature, state board of ed members, school district superintendents -- people who need to learn more about high stakes testing and students with disabilities.

Order "Do No Harm" from Disability Rights Advocates:
Phone (510) 451-8644 Email: rebeccag@dralegal.org

3. COPAA Conference - Join Us!

Between March 8-11, Pete and Pam Wright will join attorneys, advocates and parents for the 4th Annual COPAA Conference in Washington, DC. On Friday, March 9, we present on "SMART IEPs" during a daylong session about "Effective Parent Advocacy."

Topics and presenters for "Effective Parent Advocacy" include:

  • The Parent as an Advocate in Special Education by Mark Kamleiter, Esq.
  • Special Education Unplugged: The Process of Obtaining Special Education Services by Brice Palmer.
  • Eligibility and Evaluation: Strategies by Margaret Kohn, Esq.
  • SMART IEPs by Pete and Pam Wright
  • Hot Issues in School Discipline: What IDEA Really Says by Stewart Hakola, Esq.
Download the COPAA flyer

For more information about the conference, visit the COPAA site.

We hope to see you there!


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