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Florence County School District Four v. Shannon Carter
510 U. S. 7 (1993)

The Opening Statement before the U.S. Supreme Court
October 6, l993
Peter W. D. Wright

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.

In 1983, when Shannon Carter was 13 years old, she entered seventh grade at Timmonsville School. Her mother told the school officials that Shannon could not read and requested that she be evaluated. The school system evaluated her and concluded that she was lazy, unmotivated, and a slow learner who needed to be pressured to work harder. Relying on this advice, her parents pressured her to work harder.

By February 1985, Shannon was sixteen years old. She was functionally illiterate, severely depressed, and suicidal. Her parents obtained counseling for her. The counselor recommended that Shannon receive a complete psychological evaluation. They found that Shannon had a severe learning disability and needed intense remedial educational services.

The school evaluated Shannon again and concurred that she had a severe learning disability and was average to above average in intelligence.

At a conference with parents, the school presented an individualized educational program to the parents. They proposed a resource program for Shannon. Shannon would be placed in a class with emotionally disturbed and mentally retarded children. The parents said that this was not appropriate. The school offered an itinerant program. This program consisted of three hours of special education a week.

As a seventeen year old, after a year of special education, she would be reading at the fifth grade level and would have fallen further behind. Her parents said this was inadequate.

Florence County refused to place Shannon in any public or private self contained program. The issue at the special education due process hearing and before the District Court Judge was whether or not District Four's program was appropriate.

The Trial Court not only found that District Four's program was wholly inadequate, but also found that Trident Academy provided Shannon with an excellent education. When she graduated, she was reading at the twelfth grade level. Shannon received an appropriate education at Trident. We ask that you ensure that her education was free.

(Note: Thirty-four days later, in a unanimous landmark decision, the Court ruled in favor of Shannon and her parents.)

Peter W. D. Wright, Esq.
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043
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email pwright@wrightslaw.com

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