Wrightslaw

The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
January 18, 2005


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Issue - 294
ISSN: 1538-3202

In this Issue


Complaint Ends Confusion About Special Ed Teachers

How to Report a Problem or File a Complaint

Resolving Disputes: Negotiate, Mediate, Litigate

Mediation & Negotiation in Advocacy

Wrightslaw Programs in FL, NJ, NY, IN, AZ

Surviving Due Process Wins Award of Excellence

Annual Conference: Council of Parent Attorneys & Advocates in Atlanta (March 10-13)

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

Highlights: Complaint ends confusion about special ed teachers; how to report a problem or file a complaint; how to resolve disputes - negotiate, mediate, litigate; mediation & negotiation in advocacy; Wrightslaw programs in FL, NJ, NY, IN, AZ; Surviving Due Process wins Award of Excellence; annual conference of Council of Parent Attorneys & Advocates in Atlanta. Download this newsletter.

Quote of the Week: Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -- Martin Luther King Jr.

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


1. Complaint Ends Confusion about Highly Qualified Special Ed Teachers

Although the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law three years ago, many states and school districts do not seem to know or want to comply with the requirements for highly qualified teachers.

In January 2004, the New Hampshire Bureau of Special Education issued a memo to all school superintendents and special education directors. This memo stated that special education teachers who were certified in "Mental Retardation" could teach children with disabilities, although they were not certified in core academic subjects.

This policy only applied to teachers of children with disabilities. The policy did not apply to the teachers of children from low-income families, English language learners, racial minorities, or children who did not have disabilities.

Sue Heath, Wrightslaw research editor and co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind, felt this policy discriminated against children with disabilities. When New Hampshire did not amend or correct the memo, Sue took action. She filed a No Child Left Behind complaint.

In Filing a Complaint: Highly Qualified Special Education Teachers, you learn how Sue's complaint was handled and resolved by the Office of Civil Rights and her state.

Learn New Requirements for Highly Qualified Special Education Teachers in IDEA 2004.

Learn about discrimination.


2. Doing Your Homework: How to Report a Problem or File a Complaint

In addition to doing research, answering email, and writing articles about creative advocacy strategies for Doing Your Homework, Sue Heath is the co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind. The book includes chapters about obtaining information, using your state's Freedom of Information Act, reporting problems, filing complaints, and sample letters. Table of Contents

In How to Report a Problem or File a Complaint, you learn how to write a persuasive complaint letter, use facts to present your case -- and make a good first impression. More articles by Sue Heath in Doing Your Homework

If you are thinking about filing a complaint, you should also read What You Need to Know Before Filing a Complaint by advocate Pat Howey.

Training & Seminars: Sue Heath speaks to groups of parents, advocates, and educators about No Child Left Behind, reading, research based instruction and strategies for using federal education standards to advocate for children and to improve public schools. Info & schedule.


3. How to Resolve Special Education Disputes: Negotiate, Mediate, Litigate

In How to Resolve Special Education Disputes, Pete and Pam Wright explain why conflict between parents and school officials is normal and predictable - and why you need to negotiate for services. While parents want the "best" services for their children, school officials are only required to provide "appropriate" services (and balance their budgets).

Learn the pros and cons of negotiation, mediation, and litigation in How to Resolve Special Education Disputes.

Learn about effective advocacy.


4. Mediation & Negotiation in Special Ed Advocacy

In mediation and negotiation, the parties sit down to discuss problems and solutions. Mediation is not easy nor is it natural. Natural responses to conflict are fight and flight. Despite these difficulties, we encourage parents and school officials to use negotiation and mediation to resolve disputes about educating children with disabilities. In most cases, the outcome is better.

In Learning to Negotiate is Part of the Advocacy Process, Vermont advocate Brice Palmer describes the role of negotiating in special education advocacy. Explains rules, and offers tactics and techniques.

The first issue of The Beacon: The Journal of Special Education Law and Practice focused on using negotiation and mediation to resolve special education disputes. Read back issues in the Beacon Archives.

The next issue of The Beacon will focus on disability harassment in schools. You may subscribe to The Beacon from the Harbor House Law site.


5. Put a Wrightslaw Training Program on Your To-Do List

Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Training Programs focus on these areas: special education laws, rights & responsibilities; how to use the bell curve to measure educational progress & regression; SMART IEPs; and advocacy tactics & strategies.

Winter Schedule

Orlando, FL: January 21-22, 2005 (Mini Boot Camp)

Cherry Hill, NJ: February 18-19, 2005 (Boot Camp)

Cincinnati, OH: February 23-24, 2005 SOLD OUT!

Long Island, NY: March 4-5, 2005 (Mini Boot Camp)

Fort Wayne, IN: March 25, 2005 (Advocacy Training) Attorney Wayne Steedman and advocate Pat Howey present a Wrightslaw Advocacy training program.

Glendale, AZ: April 1-2, 2005 (Boot Camp)

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

I
f you are interested in bringing a Wrightslaw program to your community, please read FAQs about Seminars.


6. "Surviving Due Process" Wins Award of Excellence

Earlier this month, Surviving Due Process - Stephen Jeffers v. School Board won an Award of Excellence from Aegis Awards.

Surviving Due Process takes you through a special education due process hearing, from initial preparations to testimony by the final witness. The film is based on a case about a young child with autism. With different evidence and witnesses, this could easily be a case about a child with a different disability or a different legal issue.

Surviving Due Process was directed and filmed by V.A.V.S. Video Productions, a team of specialists in producing educational video programs:

"We enjoy creating educational media, documentaries and training materials on issues that need more public awareness. We devote ourselves to topics about the legal and educational issues surrounding people who have disabilities."

"Working on ‘Surviving Due Process’ was so much fun! It brought together people who are heartily involved in the subject, it brings to light aspects of a procedure many parents must go through and it has a very real and human feel to it. Viewers will learn something new from watching this video - and have fun." - John Nelson, President, V.A.V.S.

News Release. Learn more about Surviving Due Process.


7. Annual Conference of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates in Atlanta (March 10-13, 2005)

What? The Annual Conference of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), a national organization of parents of special education students and their advocates and lawyers

Where? The Sheraton Midtown Atlanta Hotel at Colony Square in Atlanta

When? March 10-13, 2005

Who? The COPAA conference will be of interest to parents, advocates and attorneys who represent or are interested in representing special education students.

Why? This conference provides unique opportunities for training and networking with experienced, knowledgeable attorneys and advocates on special education issues. Participants will learn about recent cases, legislative changes, and tactics.

Schedule at a Glance: http://www.wrightslaw.com/news/05/copaa.conf.schedule.pdf

Cost: Fees vary, depending on when your form is received, days attended, and membership status.
Early Bird Discounts: Register before February 10, 2005 to assure your spot and save money!

Brochure and Registration Form: http://www.copaa.net/content/COPAA2005Confprogram.pdf.

Join COPAA

Learn more about the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates.

Membership Information.


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-2004 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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