Wrightslaw

The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
November 9, 2004


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285
ISSN: 1538-3202

In this Issue


1. Failure to Include Regular Ed Teacher on IEP Team is Fatal

2. Procedural Safeguards & Parent Notice

3. Top 10 Articles in October 2004

4. IDEA Update: Negotiations Continue

5.
Sample Letter w Background Info, References

6. Wrightslaw Programs in VA & OK

NCLB Trainin
g

7. We Know How to Educate All Children, if . . .

8.
Help in Yellow Pages for Kids

9. Subscription & Contact Info

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

Highlights: 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. Download this issue of The Special Ed Advocate.

Quote of the Week: "We know how to educate all children, including those with disabilities, if we have the will to do so." (To learn who said this and why, go to #7.)

Wrightslaw is ranked #1 in education law, special education law, and special education advocacy. (2004 Alexa rankings)


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.

Two judges 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."

Although the second judge concurred, he applied the harmless error standard of review and disagreed with the structural defect analysis:

"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."

M.L. v. Federal Way School District includes an extensive list of decisions about violations of procedural safeguards in other circuits.

More special education caselaw


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.

2. IDEA 97 (Current law), Senate Bill 1249 & House Bill: Side by Side Comparison by the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems (NAPAS).

3. SMART IEPs (Chapter 12, From Emotions to Advocacy)

4. Parent Advocacy: What You Should Do . . . and Not Do - Parent attorney Leslie Margolis of the Maryland Disability Law Center offers good advice about five things you should do (and four things you should not do)

5. Parent's Guide to No Child Left Behind - Learn about requirements for teachers and para-professionals, school and school district report cards, annual testing in math and reading; options for parents including transfers from failing schools and free supplemental services - tutoring, after-school programs and summer school.

6. Your Child's IEP: Practical and Legal Guidance for Parents - comprehensive article about how to write IEPs.

7. What Is Your IEP IQ? - Test your knowledge of IEPs. When you finish the IEP Quiz, you can send an email for the correct answers.

8. The Blame Game! Are School Problems the Kids' Fault? - Describes five reasons why kids have learning and behavior problems, and what school personnel don't tell parents. Learn about school culture, beliefs, evaluations and consultants, and how to negotiate.

9. FAPE: School Accommodations and Modifications - Short article that defines accommodations and modifications that may be included in the IEP; gives examples for books, curriculum, instruction, assignments, and behavior.

10. Getting Help for Children Who Have Reading Problems - Advice for a parent whose child is not learning to read; includes strategies and resources.

More popular articles


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.

More IDEA Reauthorization News


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 master letter with background information and references on issues and concerns, including:

* Research Based Instruction
* Elimination of IEP Benchmarks and Short-term Objectives
*
Parental Access to Legal Representation
* Shorter Statute of Limitations
* Expelling and Suspending Children Disability-Related Behavior

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

IDEA Talking Points

Side-by-side analysis of Senate Bill 1248, House Bill 1350 with Parts A and B of the IDEA by the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems (NAPAS). (pdf)

Joint letter to the IDEA conferees from the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and the National Association of Protection & Advocacy Services (NAPAS) about attorney fees, statute of limitations, and discipline. (pdf)


6. Coming Soon! Wrightslaw Programs in Virginia Beach & Oklahoma City

Wrightslaw 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.

Participants will receive two books, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law and Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, with their registration (Value: $59.90).

Virginia Beach, VA (Mini-Boot Camp) - November 12-13, 2004

Edmond, OK - Advocacy Training - December 4, 2004 - FREE to Oklahoma Parents & Caregivers!

Wrightslaw programs are usually "sold out" so if you plan to attend, don't procrastinate - register today!

If you are interested in bringing a Wrightslaw program to your community, please read FAQs about Seminars. (We are now scheduling programs for 2006.)

NCLB Training

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.

Sue Heath's Schedule l Sue's bio l Sample 3-hour program


7. We Know How to Educate All Children - if We Have the Will to Do So

The Fall issue of The Beacon: Journal of Special Education Law & Practice focused on high-stakes testing. The issue included testimony before Congress by Dr. Martha Thurlow, Director of the National Center on Educational Outcomes, about reasons to include students with disabilities in assessments.

"We know how to educate all children, including those with disabilities, if we have the will to do so. The discussion should not be about whether students with disabilities can learn to proficiency – it must be about whether we have the will and commitment to make it happen."

According to Dr. Thurlow, including students with disabilities in assessments and accountability systems will improve educational outcomes for these children. Read Dr. Thurlow's testimony about the Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in Accountability and Assessment.

Learn more about high-stakes testing. Read more articles in The Beacon.


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.

Strategies to Find a Support or Study Group

What to Expect from an Evaluation of Your Child

Working with Independent Evaluators and Educational Consultants

Questions for a Lay Advocate

Questions for an Attorney

Flyers -
Yellow Pages Flyers are great to distribute at conferences, seminars, training programs, and workshops. Forward flyers to friends and family members who live in other states. Access all state flyers.


9. 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