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ISEA 2013 Opens Today!

by Wrightslaw

Wrightslaw will be LIVE Blogging all week from the William & Mary Law School Institute of Special Education Advocacy ISEA 2013.  Please join us.

Monday, July 28, 2013. Six sessions are scheduled today.

  • Ethics Overview
  • Inclusion
  • History & Relevant Law
  • “Lives Worth Living” video
  • Case Review
  • Ethics CLE session

Day 1    Day 2      Day 3     Day 4       Day 5



4:00 pm  Wrightslaw

Kayla Bower, Director of the Oklahoma Disability Law Center presents a CLE session on Ethics.

What to be aware of – the unauthorized practice of law for advocates. Issues, concerns, pitfalls.

What kind of ethics rules are there? Could possibly model the National Federation of Paralegal Associations model code.

Other sources of guidance on ethics codes:

  •  American Bar Association
  •  National Association of Legal Assistants
  •  American Association for Paralegal Education
  •  Proposed Model for Special Education Advocates Ethics Code

Find the advocacy agency/attorney in your state at


  • level of competence
  • level of personal and professional integrity/standard of conduct
  • provision of pro bono services
  • preservation of confidential information/confidential privilege
  • conflicts of interest

Assignment: Review the leading case in your state re the unauthorized practice of law. Know the case law in your state. Learn the statute/case law/specifics of confidential privilege in your state.

Discussion of the IRAC method: Issues / Rule / Application-analysis / Conclusion

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1:52 pm  Wrightslaw

Case Analysis with Pat Howey, Indiana Advocate

Winkelman v Parma City: Case Analysis from the IEP Table to the U.S. Supreme Court

“I’m an advocate, why do I need to know about case law?”

“I am a law student/new lawyer/lawyer new to special education.  I already know how to analyze case law. Why do I need to review this again?” Pat explains.

A basic understanding of case analysis will make advocates more effective is assisting and advising parents who must proceed pro se.

Under IDEA, parents have separate rights, independent of the rights of their child, and parents may pursue IDEA claims on their own behalf.

Pat reviews:

  • Legal terminology
  • Administrative law
  • Difference in circuits
  • Good law v “bad” law
  • Burden of Proof

Briefing the case…

Legal Elements Chart: Legal Elements/Source/Facts/Proof

Winkelman – Who won? What does it mean? What were the costs?

Pro se parents cannot recover their own fees and costs. Subject to monetary sanctions?

After Winkelman.  What advocates need to know when parents are unable to see the forest for the trees.

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1:10 pm  Wrightslaw

Watching the video-

Lives Worth Living traces the disability rights community as they secured equal civil rights for all people with disabilities. Thanks to their efforts, tens of millions of people’s lives have been changed.

The story features Fred Fay, who suffered a spinal cord injury at age 17 in 1961, and simply refused to be relegated to life’s sidelines just because he couldn’t walk. He fought tirelessly for decades for equal rights, access, and opportunity for the disabled, including advocating for programs allowing the disabled to live independently. (Fred died August 20, 2011; the film is dedicated to him.)

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10:58 am  Wrightslaw

History and Relevant Law

Pete Wright begins a review of the history –

  • 1954 Brown v. Board of Education
  • 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
  • PARC and Mills
  • 1973 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • 1974 FERPA
  • 1975 Public Law 94-142
  • 1982 Bd of Ed v Rowley
  • 1985 Burlington
  • 1987 McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
  • 1988 Honig v. Doe
  • 1990 ADA
  • 1993 Florence County School District IV v Shannon Carter
  • 1997 President Clinton’s state of the Union preceding NCLB
  • 1999 Cedar Rapids v Garret F
  • 2001 NLCB
  • 2005 Schaffer v Weast
  • 2006 Arlington v Murphy
  • 2007 Winkelman v Parma City
  • 2009 Forest Grove v TA

and the Law – IDEA 2004.

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9:54 am  Wrightslaw

You NEVER forget what it feels like NOT to be included!

Jim Comstock-Galagan from the Southern Disability Law Center speaks on inclusion.

“One of my brothers wanted to be the Pope. One a doctor.  My sister an astronaut.  I wanted to be a doctor.”

Jim tells his story.  What happens when his mother is told, because he is “handicapped,” he cannot attend school with his brothers.  He must attend the crippled children’s school across town.  As his mother says “no way!”  Jim wonders “what does ‘crippled’ mean?

The crippled children’s school was not a placement, it was a sentence! The principal explained that Jim had no rights to attend.

You NEVER forget what it feels like NOT to be included!

Jim tells his story and his family’s story. “I am here today because my family sacrificed to fight for my rights and to see that I was included.”

We are far more alike than we are different.

Inclusion matters to everyone. Segregation matters to everyone.

Jim shares an inspiring story from Mississippi about a family’s fight to have their daughter included.

Equal rights is what the law embodies. Inclusion matters!

We complete an exercise in “What it feels like to be excluded / included.”

It is unfortunate that our schools lack empathy. It is our job to bring empathy to schools. Help schools put the issue in the perspective of your client.

The law is an extremely effective tool, but it should not be your only one.

You need to understand what exclusion means to you, how it hurts you. You need to help others understand how exclusion hurts.

Kids are human.  Exclusion hurts.  Inclusion matters!

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9:19 am  Wrightslaw

Patty Roberts, Director of the PELE Special Education Advocacy Clinic opens ISEA 2013.

Davison Douglas, Dean of the William and Mary Law School welcomes ISEA Class of 2013.

Dean Douglas salutes the class for the work they do in special education advocacy.  This class comes from across the US and Puerto Rico.  He emphasizes the importance of the Institute and the Institute’s importance to William and Mary.

Kayla Bower, Director of the Oklahoma Disability Law Center gives an overview of ethics in special education advocacy.

A most important “first”  – this class is in the middle of what began years ago at this university – the concept of “citizen lawyers”. Kayla challenged the class to make ethical decisions in their advocacy. Kayla discusses how your values impact your advocacy and truth in advocacy.

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