S. Mehfoud, Esq.
S. Mehfoud plays the role of school board attorney. Ms. Mehfoud
is a partner in the Richmond, Virginia office of the law firm
of Reed Smith LLP with
a practice in education law and in special education law.
Mehfoud provides consultation services on a national basis and
represents a number of school boards. She lectures nationally
on a frequent basis. Additionally, Ms. Mehfoud serves on the School
Attorneys Special Education Advisory Council providing consultative
services to LRP Publications.
A. Battin plays the paralegal for the school board attorney. She
is Executive Director of the Virginia
Coalition for Students with Disabilities Legal Advocacy Center.
Ms. Battin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a
Master of Public Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Tillar Mason, Esq.
Tillar Mason plays the hearing officer. She is founder of the
Virginia Coalition for Students
with Disabilities Legal Advocacy Center, a nonprofit organization
dedicated to protecting the educational rights of children with
Mason served as a hearing officer through the Virginia Supreme
Court for 6 years and is active with the Virginia Women Attorneys
presents seminars on legal topics and has written numerous articles
on legal, ethical, and social issues.
Rhonda Smith plays the role of Ms. Jeffers, Stephen's mother.
Ms. Smith is a professional actor. She also works at the Virginia
Treatment Center for Children, a residential program for children
with disabilities. A
close family member has autism.
l Hopkins plays the role of Mr. Jeffers. Mr. Hopkins is a veteran
Richmond actor and performance poet. As a founding member of Jazz
Actors Theatre he has toured throughout the country. He has starred
in independent films, national and regional advertisements, and
various roles in episodic television.
For the past ten years, Mr. Hopkins has worked with youth, helping
them to harness, hear and understand their individual artistic
Peter W. D. Wright, Esq.
Wright plays the attorney who represented Stephen Jeffers and
his parents. Mr. Wright has represented children with disabilities
and their families for more than 30 years. In
1993, Mr. Wright gave oral argument before the United States Supreme
Court in Florence
County School District Four v. Shannon Carter, 510 U.S. 7
(1993). The Court found for his client in a unanimous landmark
Wright and his wife Pam developed Wrightslaw
and have co-authored several best-selling special education and
education books: Wrightslaw:
Special Education Law, Wrightslaw:
From Emotions to Advocacy and Wrightslaw:
No Child Left Behind.
at national conferences and continuing legal education seminars
about representing children with special educational needs. Pete
and Pam Wright also do training
programs in special education law and advocacy.
Darr Wright, MA, MSW
Wright is a psychotherapist who worked with children and families
for more than 30 years. Her training and experience in clinical
psychology and clinical social work give her a unique perspective
on parent-child-school dynamics, problems, and solutions.
Ms. Wright is the primary author of the Wrights best-selling
Special Education Law, Wrightslaw:
From Emotions to Advocacy and co-author of Wrightslaw:
No Child Left Behind. Ms. Wright is the managing editor
of The Special
Ed Advocate newsletter.
Hart plays the role of special education teacher. Ms. Hart has
represented parents and children in special education rights in
her private practice and as counsel for the Department
for Rights of Virginians with Disabilities (now the Virginia
Office for Protection and Advocacy). Before law school, Ms.
Hart worked as a special education teacher and was certified in
learning disabilities and emotional disturbances.
Hart has been faculty for disability and special education presentations
for parents and teachers, the Virginia
Centers for Independent Living, and the National Attorney
General Civil Rights Conference.
England plays the role of occupational therapist. Ms. England
served as practitioner, educator and administrator in child welfare
for nearly twenty years before receiving her law degree in 1996.
As a social work practitioner, Ms. England provided family, individual
and group counseling to child victims of physical and sexual abuse
and their families.
England's law practice is dedicated to representing children as
a guardian ad litem in custody, child protection, and delinquency
hearings and special education matters. She assisted the Virginia
Supreme Court with its implementation of Virginia's Court
Improvement Program. She continues to provide training to attorneys,
judges, social workers and CASA volunteers.
Higgins plays the role of special education director. Mr. Higgins
is engaged in the general practice of law in Virginia Beach. His
interest in special education law began with the birth of his
youngest daughter who has learning disabilities. Together with
other Tidewater advocates, he helped form an advocacy organization
called P.I.E.R [Protecting Individuals with disabilities Education
Rights] which is well-known for its workshops, school board voter's
guides, and training of parents.
Mr. Higgins has been involved with the Virginia
Coalition for Students with Disabilities in the review and
public comment on the Virginia special education regulations.
Mr. Higgins represents parents of students with disabilities in
the Tidewater Virginia area on matters involving their special
Oswald plays the role of the psychologist who evaluated Stephen
Jeffers and observed the programs at the public school and The
Early School. Dr. Oswald first worked with children with autism
as a teacher. Later he was program supervisor at a residential
autism facility. He holds a master of education in school psychology
and a Ph.D. in psychology.
Dr. Oswlad is a professor and associate division chair in the
Department of Psychiatry and affiliate clinical professor in the
Department of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Dr. Oswald serves as an associate editor for the Journal of
Child and Family Studies and as a consulting editor for Focus
on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. He has served
as principal investigator for numerous research studies and has
published on child development and education topics. He has testified
about educational issues and children with autism in special education
due process hearings.
Hendricks, M.Ed., plays the role of program specialist at The
real life, Ms. Hendricks is a program coordinator for The
Faison School for Autism, a private school in Virginia for
children with autism. She has presented at local and state conferences
on various topics, including autism, applied behavior analysis
in the classroom, building language repertoires, and discrete
Hendricks received her M.Ed. in special education from the Virginia
Commonwealth University and taught in public schools from 1993
through 1999. She began as Program Coordinator at The Faison School
David plays the principal of The Early School. Ms. David is the
founder and former director of Northstar
Academy. a private special education school in Richmond, VA.
She has worked as an educational diagnostician, consultant, teacher,
and child advocate.
David is a consultant in private school development and educational
programs for students with disabilities. She presents on learning
disabilities, non-verbal learning disabilities, autism spectrum
disorders, advocacy, and No Child Left Behind. Ms. David is actively
involved with the International Dyslexia Association, the National
Council of Learning Disabilities, the Autism Association of America,
and the Association of Instruction and Supervision.
V.A.V.S. Video Productions
Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
was directed and filmed by V.A.V.S.
Video Productions, a team of specialists in producing educational
video programs. "We enjoy creating educational media, documentaries
and training materials on issues that need more public awareness.
We devote ourselves to topics about the legal and educational
issues surrounding people who have disabilities."
Learn more about Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board:
Trailer (Windows Media Player)
Read the Story
Meet the Cast
List of Scenes
Fax & Mail Orders
Updates and Status of Case
When Surviving Due Process was being filmed, the due process hearing in Z.P. v. Henrico School Board had just been held. The story of Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board was based on the facts in Z.P. v. Henrico School Board.
The individuals who played the roles of teachers, therapists, psychologist, special ed director, and attorneys in Surviving Due Process read the transcript of the Z.P. v. Henrico School Board due process hearing. At the time the DVD was filmed, the hearing officer had not issued a decision.
What happened next?
The parents received a favorable decision from the hearing officer. The school district appealed to U. S. District Court. The District Court reversed the hearing officer and found for the school district.
The parents appealed this decision to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The Court heard oral argument on September 29, 2004.
On February 11, 2005, in a 2-1 split decision, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed the District Court and remanded the case back with instructions. Read School Bd of Henrico County VA v. Z.P. in html.
School Bd of Henrico County VA v. Z.P. is also available in pdf at http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/caselaw/05/4th.kp.henrico.va.pdf
Does this mark the end of School Bd of Henrico v. Z.P.? If there are new developments in School Board of Henrico County VA v. Z.P., we will update this page.