Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
At Wrightslaw, our goals are to help you gain the information and skills you need navigate the confusing world of special education. In this issue, we look at letters, paper trails, and due process hearings.
Pete Wright's advice about "10-day notice letters";
how to use letters to persuade & prevail; how to deal with confusing
terms & jargon; choreography of trial preparation; representing the
special ed child; advocacy training programs in Indianapolis, IN &
1. From the Editor: Special Education Due Process Hearings
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act includes rules of procedure for resolving complaints. These rules include mediation, due process hearings, and appeals to state or federal court. (Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, page 71)
A special education due process hearing is usually a formal, contested, adversarial trial. Special education cases are similar to medical malpractice cases, with battles of expert witnesses, and the emotions of bitterly contested divorce cases with child custody and equitable distribution issues.
request a due process hearing, you need to be familiar with the federal
statute and regulations and your state special education statute and regulations.
You should also read the Rules of Adverse Assumptions (Wrightslaw:
From Emotions to Advocacy, Chapter 21).
2. Advice About "10-Day Notice Letters" by Pete Wright
An attorney writes: "Do you have any advice about the '10 day notice letter' to the school that parent are required to send if they plan to place their child in a private school at public expense? What should be included?"
In Advice About 10-Day Notice Letters, Pete Wright answers questions about what should be included in a 10-day notice letter from the parents and how to use the letter to lay out the theme of the case. This article includes links to "Letters to the Stranger" in Pete's cases. Read article
3. How to Use Letters to Persuade & Prevail
How do parents prevail in due process hearings? If you write letters and create a paper trail and you have competent, qualified private experts who can testify about what your child needs, you will be in a good position if a due process hearing is necessary.
Letters to Letters to Persuade & Prevail, you see how a father
used the storytelling approach of letter writing when he asked the school
district to help his son. Do
you see Joe through his father's eyes? Do you understand why the parents
removed Joe from the public school program?
4. Doing Your Homework: Dealing with Confusing Jargon & Terms by Sue Heath
"My district has special ed teachers, general ed teachers, teaching assistants, and teaching aides. Teaching assistants are supposed to have associate's degrees. After reading your article, Why You Should Request a Paraprofessional, Not an Aide, I am confused. Are teaching assistants the same as paraprofessionals? "
with Confusing Jargon & Terms, Sue Heath helps a parent through
a thicket of confusing educational jargon, and offers advice about how
to deal with this problem in IEP meetings. Read
Doing Your Homework
5. The Choreography of Trial Preparation
In The Choreography of Trial Preparation, attorney Barbara Ebenstein describes choreography, music, and trial preparation as creative endeavors. Instead movement or music, the litigator uses the medium of information from documents and the testimony of witnesses.
eloquently describes the balance of spontaneity and simplicity. When you
examine documents, she explains that you should look for "negative
space." Ms. Ebenstein shares her father's wise advice - "Read
6. Representing the Special Ed Child by Pete Wright
In Representing the Special Ed Child, a comprehensive article for attorneys and lay advocates, Pete Wright describes issues in representing children with disabilities, including legal principles, evidence, getting in additional evidence, and preparing for special education due process hearings. Download Representing the Special Ed Child.
Learn more about due process hearings.Coming Soon! Surviving Due Process: When Parents and the School Board Disagree
Due Process: When Parents and the School Board Disagree is a two-hour
film that takes you through a special education due process hearing, from
initial preparation to testimony by the final witness. Synopsis
of story and photos in Stephen Jeffers v. School Board.
Tillar Mason, Esq., attorney and former hearing officer
Due Process will be available on DVD this Fall. Newsletter
subscribers will receive advance notice and a special prepublication offer
Due Process: When Parents & the School Board Disagree.
7. Join Pete & Pam Wright for Advocacy Training Programs in IN & CT (September 2004)
Wrightslaw Special Education Law Seminar in Michigan was a tremendously
rewarding experience and will forever change our practice." - Bryan
I. Eder, Esq., Chudnof & Eder,
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!"
Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education
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