The Wrightslaw Way

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Forced to Take a Stand

by Wrightslaw

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.

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20 Comments on "Forced to Take a Stand"


I got my son a one on one tutor starting his 7th grade year because he begged for one. In 6th grade his IEP was taken away which he had for reading and written language. He had no growth from that point on and he was already 3years behind in grade level. Now 4 years later , going into 10th grade he is still at the same reading level . I took him to be tested at the lindamood-Bell learning center and they said he was severely behind in ability but very smart. His vocabulary is at a 74% and his reading at a 16% . He has the ability to learn if he had just been taught and had been diagnosed with his dyslexia. He needs extensive supplementary ed to try to close a gap of 6 years. Can a judge hold the school accountable? I did beg for testing every year but told no because of his good grades. Tutor helps but he can’t teach him how to read.


I have to fight for my diabetic special needs child what seems like on a daily basis just to try and get them to make sure he takes his insulin correctly. Which he doe not do at least once a week. He attends the middle school. I have filed complaints this does not work. I know this is descrimination because the elementary school provides nurse services for their diabetic students and provide what they need. I work there and know this to be a fact.


It’s called Special yes, Education No- I am without a job because of advocating for my students. No one really cares what happens to small groups of Special Needs students around the country.
Special Education for these children is going backwards all the way back to the one room school house approach.
I just had 14 Special Needs students all locked in one room for 2.5 hours in the morning then 2.5 hours in the afternoon. It was a mixture of severe MMI, ED and Speech and Language Delayed. I have fought for years hoping just once I would find a school that works the IEP as it is was meant to be implemented.
It’s horrible – I’m quitting because as a Special Ed teacher no one ever has your back when working with the students. -I had an attorney who was going to help, but backed out – its about power and money not the kids.


I’m going crazy this is happening to me. I need help please They put a student into my cross-cat class and he is regular Ed. I protested, least restrictive first, it did not matter- the student without an IEP or even a meeting was in my class – and tore it up. My other students grades dropped. There was a fight. I broke it up and they know they were in the wrong for having him in my class. Now they want me to resign or they say they are going to fire me- HELP


It’s a sad state of affairs when dedicated teachers with principals are forced to resign. What’s even more sad is that others won’t.

Yes, it’d cause chaos for a short time, but it would bring the truth to the public and hopefully, the end result would be that OSEP, OCR, States and School Districts would be forced to do their jobs and appropriately educate our children.

And our legislatures need to fund IDEA! How is it that people just don’t get it that this is a pay now or pay later deal? And that it’s much less expensive to educate and provide services for children than “fund” social programs and maintain prisons for entire lifetimes because “appropriate services and education” was not implemented when it was the most beneficial time?