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Live Blogging from the Institute of Special Education Advocacy 2013 – Please Join Us!

by Wrightslaw

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Wrightslaw is live blogging from the Institute of Special Education Advocacy (ISEA) all week. We hope you will join us!

Today’s topics include:

  • Attorney’s Evidence Strategies Panel
  • Preparing a Case for Trial/Due Process
  • Drafting Due Process Claims/State Complaints
  • Dispute Resolution and Settlements
  • Case Law Review by Circuit

Day 1    Day 2      Day 3     Day 4       Day 5


3:28 pm  Wrightslaw

Current Case Law Review by Circuit

Sonja Kerr, Senior Attorney the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and the Law Center’s Director of Disabilities Rights.

Parent Participation

Anchorage Sch. Dist. v. M.P., 689 F. 3d 1047 (9th Cir. 2012)

D.B. v  Gloucester Township (3d Cir. July 2012)

Doug C. v. Hawaii Dep’t. of Education, 2013 App. LEXIS 11904 (9th Cir. 2013)

Procedural Cases

R.E. v. New York City Department of Education, 694 F.3d 167 (2d Cir. 2012)

M.H. v. New York City Dep’t. of Education, 685 F.3d 217 (2nd Cir. 2012)

L.G. v. Fair Lawn Board of Education (3d Cir. 2012)

H.C. v. Katonah-Lewisboro Union Free School District, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 13099 (2d Cir. 2013)

Brooks v. D.C., 841 F. Supp. 2d 253 (DC 2012)

D.F. v. Collingswood Borough, 694 F.3d 488 (3d Cir. 2012)

Class Actions

Jamie S. v. Milwaukee, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117672 (7th Cir. 2012)

D.L. v. District of Columbia, 713 F.3d 120 (D.C. Cir. 2013)

J.T. v. Dumont Pub. Schs., 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 8504 (3d Cir. Apr. 26, 2013)

Chester Upland Sch. Dist. v. Commonwealth, 284 F.R.D. 305 (E.D. Pa. 2012)

P.V. v. School District of Philadelphia (E.D. Pa, Feb. 2013)

Corey H. v. Board of Education (N.D. Ill, July 2012)


JT v. Dumont Public Schools (3d Cir. 2013)

L.G. v. Fair Lawn Board of Education (3d Cir. 2012)

Woods v. Northport Public School (6th Cir. 2012)

D.W. v. Milwaukee Public Schools (7th Cir. 2013)

G.B. v. Tuxedo Union Free School District (2nd Cir. 2012)

M.M. v. Lancaster County School (8th Cir. 2012)

Transition Services

Sebastian M. v. King Philip Regional School District (1st Cir. 2012)

Klein Independent School District v. Hovem (5th Circuit, 2012)

Tuition Reimbursement

Sebastian M. v. King Philip Regional School District (1st Cir. 2012)

G.B. v. Tuxedo Union Free School District (2d Cir. 2012)

M.H. v. New York City Dep’t of Educ (2d Cir. 2012) (cf R.E. v. NYC Dep’t of Educ (2d Cir. 2012)

M.B. v. Minisink Valley Central School District (2d 2013)

P.K. v. New York City Department of Education (2d 2013)

L.G. v. Fair Lawn Board of Education (3d Cir. 2012)

Upper Freehold Regional Board of Education v. T.W. (3d Cir. 2012)

R.G. v. Downingtown Area School District (3d Cir. 2013)

Jefferson County School v. Elizabeth E. (10th Cir. 2012)

Bullying, Discipline, and Related Claims

Morrow v. Balaski (3d Cir. 2013)

Stewart v. Waco ISD, (5th Cir. 2013)

Chigano v. City of Knoxville, (6th Cir. 2013)

Long v. Murray County, (11th Cir. 2013)

Argenyi v. Creighton (8th Cir. 2013)


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1:49 pm  Wrightslaw

Alternative Dispute Resolution Under IDEA 2004

Jim Comstock-Galagan, Executive Director of the Southern Disability Law Center (SDLC)

OSEP Letter Dispute Resolution

OSEP Memo and Q & A on Dispute Resolution, July 23, 2013
MS Word (411KB) | PDF (436KB)

Wrightslaw has broken the OSEP memo down into the specific components as smaller files.


  • Mediation Requirements
  • Confidentiality and costs
  • Timelines
  • When parties reach an agreement
  • When parties choose not to use mediation

To enforce mediation agreement you cannot go to due process, but can file a state complaint.

Due Process Complaints

20 U.S.C. 1415(b)(7)

  • What must be included
  • Proposed resolution of problem
  • Timelines

 Resolution Sessions

  • Timelines
  • Review period
  • Enforceable agreements



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12:14 pm  Wrightslaw

Drafting Due Process Claims / State Complaints

Pete Wright

Due process request letter – first step.

What controls the outcome of a complaint? Facts or law?

Neither.  Pete explains what does.

Only one thing controls outcome – whether the HO/ALJ wants to rule in your favor.

Prepare for the ultimate event, a due process hearing – a battle of expert witnesses. Assume you will lose and your case will go up on appeal to federal court. Prepare parents for slow process without a quick fix.

Persuasion – your focus, your theme, simple and easy to understand.

First step for parents – organizing the file. Check the Wrightslaw you tube channel.

Have parents organize the file, write letters, keep a paper trail. Empower parents rather than do for them.

  • “The paternalist attitude of professionals is what holds parents back.”
  • “The biggest handicap of persons with disabilities are the expectations of others.”

Source: Harry Gewanter, MD 7/31/2013

Perceptions and first impressions are critical. Attempt to be proactive rather than be on the defense.

Your real goal is to avoid due process.  You do this by “preparing for due process.”

Start by creating a paper trail of documentation of everything. Your letters will tell a story and create visual imagery. Use the Letter to the Stranger format.

Be persuasive not blaming.


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11:00 am  Wrightslaw

Preparing for Hearings and Trials

Sonja Kerr, Senior Attorney the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and the Law Center’s Director of Disabilities Rights.

Pat Howey, Indiana Advocate at Special Education Consulting

This training is about the important part advocates play in due process.

  • Attending with parents who are going pro se
  • Assisting attorneys
  • Helping parents plan and prepare

Prepare. Plan on going to due process. Develop your strategy.

Assume every case will go to hearing.

Assume every case will be appealed.

Assume every case will end up at the US Supreme Court.

Know the Rules of Adverse Assumptions

Read and re-read

  • the law
  • case law
  • law review articles
  • the case facts
  • the entire child’s file

Discussion of inter-relationship between special education, juvenile justice system, behavior, self-medication (substance abuse).

Tips for advocates: initial consultations, what to tell parents, using legal element charts, informing parents of pitfalls.

Advocate responsibilities at the pre-attorney stage… and the attorney stage.

Post-Winkelman: the good, the bad, the ugly.

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9:08 am  Wrightslaw

Attorneys Evidence Strategies Panel 

Pete Wright

Bill Reichhardt

Sonja Kerr

Kayla Bowyer

Jim Comstock-Galagan

Short presentations by five attorneys, followed by Q & A.

No notes will be published from this session.

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