Wrightslaw

The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
July 7, 2004


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ISSN: 1538-3202

In this Issue


New Decision from 8th Circuit Ends Parental Nightmare

Who is Responsible for Providing FAPE?

Alternatives to Name Calling & Other Regrettable Behavior

Mistakes Parents Make

When Parents & Schools Disagree - Resolving Disputes

School Leaders Testify Before Congress - NCLB Is Working

Wrightslaw Programs in Sacramento & Grand Rapids (July, 2004)

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At Wrightslaw, our goals are to help you gain the information and skills you need navigate the confusing world of special education.

Highlights: New decision from 8th Circuit ends parental nightmare; responsibility for providing FAPE; alternatives to name-calling & other bad behavior; mistakes parents make; when parents and schools disagree - how to resolve disputes; school leaders testify in favor of NCLB; Wrightslaw programs in Sacramento & Grand Rapids.

The Special Ed Advocate newsletter is free - please forward this issue or the subscription link to your friends and coworkers so they can learn about special education law and advocacy too. We appreciate your help!

Wrightslaw is ranked #1 in education law, special education law, and special education advocacy. (2003 Alexa rankings)


1. New Decision from U. S. Court of Appeals - Parental Nightmare Ends

In Missouri Department of Education v. Springfield R-12 School District, the U. S. Court of Appeals issued a strong decision on behalf of Katherine Lewis, a severely disabled deaf-blind child:

"The facts of this case describe a parental nightmare – Katherine's parents watched as the scholastic needs of their child were processed through the grinding machinery of state and local education bureaucracies."

In a long-running saga of bureaucratic indifference, the state department of education repeatedly passed the buck for Katherine's education, then denied that they were responsible for educating Katherine, a child with severe disabilities. In their decision, the Court wrote:

"No Missouri educational agency wanted to take responsibility for educating this child, and all of them were attempting to 'pass the buck,' both figuratively and literally. Missouri statutes make clear that given the facts of the instant case, the 'buck' stops with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Read Missouri Department of Education v. Springfield R-12 School District

More Special Education Caselaw

Note: The U. S. Court of Appeals includes Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Find your Circuit.


2. Who is Ultimately Responsible for Providing FAPE?

To learn more about the responsibilities and obligations of state educational agencies (state departments of education), read 20 U. S. C. § 1412(a). Next, read the answer to Question 15 in Appendix A to the special education regulations which says, in part:

"The SEA must ensure that every eligible child with a disability in the State has FAPE available, regardless of which State or local agency is responsible for educating the child . . . The SEA must ensure that no eligible child with a disability is denied FAPE due to jurisdictional disputes among agencies. (Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, pages 217-8; From Emotions to Advocacy, pages 263-4)

Learn more about FAPE (free, appropriate public education)

Visit the Special Education Law Library for statutes, regulations, legal articles, analyses, reports, and news.


3. Doing Your Homework: Alternatives to Name-Calling & Other Regrettable Behavior

After a flurry of email from parents who were frustrated and stymied at IEP meetings, Sue Heath wrote a new article, Alternatives to Name-Calling and Other Regrettable Behavior.

"Children need their parents to have the necessary skills to behave well in frustrating situations. They cannot afford for their parents to lose tempers or waste time learning on the job."

"You need to anticipate that you will be caught off guard during meetings. When you are upset, you need to have skills and strategies in place that you can rely upon."

Learn about emotions, school teams, gatekeepers, and useful strategies to keep your cool in Alternatives to Name-Calling and Other Regrettable Behavior.

Read more Doing Your Homework columns.


4. Mistakes Parents Make by Bob Crabtree, Esq.

"Because the stakes are so high, it is difficult for parents of children with special educational needs to advocate calmly and objectively for the educational and related services their children need."

In Mistakes Parents Make, parent attorney Bob Crabtree describes some common mistakes that undermine parents' ability to obtain appropriate services. Read article


5. When Parents & Schools Disagree - How to Resolve Disputes

"I often tell my clients that if my own parents were alive, they would never understand what I do for a living," says Ruth Heitin.

"As an independent educational consultant, I work for parents in seeking appropriate educational services for their children. Far more often than I prefer, I disagree with the schools - something my parents and their generation saw as heresy. As a former teacher, I fully understand the challenges that teachers face."

In When Parents & Schools Disagree, educational consultant Heitin describes four areas of disagreement between parents and schools and offers suggestions about how to handle disagreements. Read article


6. NCLB News: School Leaders Testify Before Congress - "NCLB Is Working"

On June 24, 2004, school leaders from several urban school districts testified before Congress about the impact No Child Left Behind is having on student achievement in city schools.

The leaders offered testimony on the achievement gap (it's real), reading and math progress, testing as a source of essential data, reading proficiency, and financial issues. Witnesses included:

* Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools

* Eric Smith, superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools (Maryland)

* Paul Vallas, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia

Read School Leaders Testify Before Congress - "NCLB is Working"

More NCLB News

Visit Wrightslaw No Child Left Behind for information about No Child Left Behind issues - research based reading instruction, annual proficiency testing, parent involvement, tutoring and supplemental educational services, highly qualified teachers, transfers from failing schools, and public school choice.

Wrightslaw No Child Left Behind has the complete NCLB statute and regulations, policy letters, guidance publications, education statistics, flyers, fact sheets, information directories, and more.


7. Join Pete & Pam Wright for Advocacy Training Programs in CA & MI (July 2004)

"What a marvelous conference! I often leave sped presentations angry and/or guilty because of all the things that have been done or not done. This time I left encouraged, inspired and armed!"

Wrightslaw legal advocacy programs focus on four areas: special education law, rights and responsibilities; tests and measurements to measure progress & regression; SMART IEPs; and advocacy tactics & strategies.

July 17-18:
Boot Camp, Sacramento, CA - Only Boot Camp on the West Coast This Year!

Sponsored by Families for Early Autism Treatment (FEAT). Download information flyer & registration form.

July 21, 2004: Advocacy Training Program, Grand Rapids, MI.

Sponsored by The Williams Syndrome Association. Download Registration Form

Fall 2004: Programs are scheduled in Indianapolis, IN; Hartford, CT; Virginia Beach, VA. Full schedule

"Your Boot Camp was the most useful CLE I've ever attended. CLEs are notoriously boring and unpleasant. Your program was neither and I learned a lot, even as an experienced practitioner in the field." - Rob Mead, KU Wheat Law Library

If you are interested in bringing Pete and Pam Wright to your community, please read our FAQs about Seminars. (We are scheduling programs for 2005-2006.)


8. Subscription & Contact Info

The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education legal and advocacy issues, cases, and tactics and strategies. Subscribers receive "alerts" about new cases, events, and special offers on Wrightslaw books.

Law Library Seminars & Training
Advocacy Yellow Pages for Kids
No Child Left Behind Free Newsletter
IDEA Reauthorization Newsletter Archives

Contact Info

Pete and Pam Wright
Wrightslaw & The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043
Website: http://www.wrightslaw.com
Email: newsletter@wrightslaw.com


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