Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
At Wrightslaw, our goals are to help you gain the information and skills you need navigate the amazing, confusing world of special education.
Failure to include regular ed teacher on IEP team is fatal; procedural
safeguards & parent notice; top 10 articles for October; IDEA Update
- negotiations continue; sample letter with background info & resources;
Wrightslaw programs in VA & OK; educating all children; find help
in the Yellow Pages for Kids.
issue of The Special Ed Advocate.
1. New Decision! Failure to Include a Regular Ed Teacher on IEP Team is Fatal
On November 5, 2004, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a decision in M.L. v. Federal Way School District (WA). M.L. is a child with severe autism and mental retardation, developmental delays, and behavior problems.
found that the failure to include a regular education teacher on the IEP
team was a serious procedural error that led to a loss of educational
opportunity and a denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
One judge applied the structural defect analysis and found that "the
requirement that at least one regular education teacher be included on
an IEP team, if the student may be participating in a regular classroom,
is mandatory - not discretionary."
"In fact, our sister circuits have consistently rejected per se IDEA structural error arguments, and instead have adopted case-by-case, harmless error inquiries similar to our standard . . ."
The third judge dissented. He concluded that the failure to include a "regular classroom teacher on the IEP team, as required by the IDEA, was harmless error, and did not result in the loss of an educational opportunity for M.L., or deny him a free appropriate public education." In his dissent, he wrote of overwhelming evidence that "the program developed by the IEP team was the best placement for M.L. because the academic and non-academic benefits to M.L. were maximized by placement in a self-contained classroom, rather than a regular kindergarten classroom."
2. Procedural Safeguards, Parent Notice, Resources, Caselaw
When Congress enacted the IDEA, they included a system of procedural safeguards to protect the rights of children with disabilities and their parents. These safeguards are designed to ensure that the child receives a free appropriate education.
Learn about procedural safeguards, parent notice, and read articles and caselaw on the Procedural Safeguards page.
3. Top 10 Articles: October 2004
1. Tests & Measurements for the Parent, Teacher, Advocate and Attorney - Your child has received special education for three years. Has your child caught up with the peer group? Has your child fallen further behind? How do you know? To negotiate for quality special ed services that provide educational benefit, you need to know how to interpret test scores.
97 (Current law), Senate Bill 1249 & House Bill: Side by Side Comparison
by the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems (NAPAS).
4. IDEA Update: Negotiations on IDEA Reauthorization Continue (November 9, 2004)
Negotiations are continuing between House and Senate to reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. These negotiations may be completed this week.
On Monday, November 15, the House and Senate return to Washington for a lame duck session. If negotiations are completed then, Congress may pass the bill to reauthorize the IDEA during this session. The House and Senate versions of the IDEA bill weaken some rights that exist in the current IDEA. This may be our last chance to preserve protections that students with disabilities have under current federal law.
5. IDEA: Sample Letter with Background Info & References
You may want
to write a letter to the aides who are working on the compromise bill.
Our Children Left Behind
provided sample letters. Wrightslaw staff revised these letters into a
letter with background information and references on issues and concerns,
You can copy
and paste text from this document into a letter. Include personal information
about your child. Fax your letter to the conferees. IDEA
Reauthorization Letter with Background Info on Issues & References
Special Education Law and Advocacy Training Programs focus on four
areas: special education laws, rights & responsibilities; how to use
the bell curve to measure progress & regression; SMART IEPs; and tactics
& strategies for effective advocacy.
Wrightslaw programs are usually "sold out" so if you plan to attend, don't procrastinate - register today!
Sue Heath is the Research Editor for Wrightslaw and the co-author, with Pam and Pete Wright, of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind. Sue speaks to parents, advocates, and educators about research based reading instruction and strategies for using education standards to advocate for children and to improve public schools.
We Know How to Educate All Children - if We Have the
Will to Do So
to Dr. Thurlow, including students with disabilities in assessments
and accountability systems will improve educational outcomes for these
Thurlow's testimony about the Inclusion of Students with Disabilities
in Accountability and Assessment.
8. Need Help? Visit the Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities
If you are looking for help, visit the
Yellow Pages for Kids with
Disabilities. Your state Yellow
Pages has many resources - evaluators, therapists, tutors, special
Ed schools, advocates, organizations, and support groups.
Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education
legal and advocacy issues, cases, and tactics and strategies. Subscribers
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on Wrightslaw books.