Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
At Wrightslaw, our goals are to help you gain the information and skills you need to navigate the challenging, changing world of special education.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
5. Put a Wrightslaw Training Program on Your To-Do List
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.
OH: February 23-24, 2005 SOLD OUT!
Island, NY: March 4-5, 2005 (Mini Boot Camp)
participants in these programs will receive two books, Wrightslaw:
Special Education Law and Wrightslaw:
From Emotions to Advocacy, with their registration (Value: $59.90).
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.
Due Process was directed and filmed by V.A.V.S.
Video Productions, a team of specialists in producing educational
"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.
7. Annual Conference of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates in Atlanta (March 10-13, 2005)
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
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.
Fees vary, depending on when your form is received, days attended,
and membership status.
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