I am a special education teacher. I resigned from a public school because they ordered me to do something that was against special ed law. I contacted the State Board of Education but could not get help at the state level.
I was forced to quit my job so that I could make a stand. From my perspective, special ed law is pointless because at the state level, they let administrators do whatever they want to do. Is there anything I can do at this point?
Teachers are not as helpless as they used to be. More cases are being heard and decided for teachers.
Fales v. Garst
First, read the analysis and decision in Fales v Garst and the Complaint filed in federal court. The analysis is at -
The actions of special education teachers Jacquelyn Fales, Mary Ann Kahmann, and Eileen Scarborough will be remembered and studied by lawyers and their clients for many years. In time, the rights of students and the teachers who stand up for these students may receive better protection and greater weight in the balancing process.
At the end of this article you’ll also find resources on the Legal Rights of Teachers and Students.
Pamella Settlegoode v. Portland Public Schools
Next, read the story of adaptive PE teacher Pamella Settlegoode who was retaliated against because she advocated for her students.
A jury awarded Pamella Settlegoode one million dollars after she brought suit against her school district and special ed director in Portland, Oregon.
The Inside Story of her case, including links to the Complaint, Pretrial Order, Jury Instructions and decisions is at -
This decision should open doors for other teachers who feel trapped in oppressive work environments. With support from advocacy litigation agencies, teachers can use this case as a roadmap.
Lessons from the Settlegoode case: Paper Trails & Letter Writing
Pete says, “If it wasn’t written down, it wasn’t said. If it wasn’t written down, it didn’t happen.”
Good records are important to effective advocacy. Documents that support your position help you resolve disputes early.
When you read about the Settlegoode case, you’ll learn that Dr. S. wrote letters that documented her concerns about her students. Although her supervisors ordered her to stop writing letters, she did not stop.
If you have a problem with the school you must document your concerns in writing.You need to write letters to clarify events and what you were told. If you have a dispute with the school, your letters are independent evidence that support your memory.