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Date: April 18, 2006
Issue: 349
ISSN: 1538-3202

In this Issue


1. Supreme Court to Hear Oral Argument on 4/19


2. Read Briefs in Arlington v. Murphy


3. Should a Deaf Child Be Taught by an Interpreter?

4. Update: Online Training

5. Spring Schedule: Wrightslaw Training in MA, NY, PA, DE

6. Subscribe & Contact Info


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At Wrightslaw, our mission is to help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to navigate the confusing, changing world of special education.

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1. U. S. Supreme Court Will Hear Oral Argument in Arlington v. Murphy on Wednesday

At 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 19, 2006, the U. S. Supreme Court will hear Oral Argument in Arlington Central School District v. Murphy. Since the Court granted certiorari on January 6, 2006, this case is on a fast track.

The Court will decide whether parents who prevail in special education cases may be reimbursed for the costs of their experts and/or educational consultants.

This decision is likely to have enormous implications for parents and educational consultants, evaluators, advocates, and other individuals who assist parents during special education due process hearings.

Pete plans to attend Oral Argument on Wednesday and will share his thoughts and impressions, as he did after oral argument in Schaffer v. Weast.

To learn why this case is so important, and a comprehensive discussion of this case, including links to decisions, briefs, and news, please go to Arlington v. Murphy at http://www.wrightslaw.com/news/06/arlington.murphy.htm We will add new information as it is available, including Pete's impressions of Oral Argument.


2. Briefs in Arlington v. Murphy

In their brief, the Petitioner, Arlington Central School District (NY), argued that the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit erred in holding that the court was authorized to award expert fees to the parents of a child with a disability who is a prevailing party under the IDEA. (Click to read Petitioner's brief)

In March, the parents filed their Brief. They argued that the legislative history of IDEA confirms that expert witness costs may be recovered by prevailing parents. (Click to read the Respondent's brief)

The school district then filed their Reply Brief. (Click to download the school district's Reply Brief)

Amicus Briefs

The U. S. Department of Education filed an amicus brief on behalf of the school district, arguing that IDEA's fee shifting provision does not authorize an award of expert fees. (read the brief filed by the U. S. Department of Education)

In an amicus brief filed on behalf of the school district, the National School Board Association argued that "recovery of expert fees is contrary to IDEA's collaborative framework" and that "recovery of expert witness fees will lead to increased litigation costs for parents and schools and divert attention and resources from the education of all children." (Read the brief filed by the School Board Association)

Amicus briefs were filed on behalf of the parents and Joseph by the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates and by the National Disability Rights Network and the Center for Law and Education.

The brief filed by COPAA argued that "IDEA's purpose to protect constitutional rights would be frustrated if expert fees were not awarded to prevailing parties" and "because the IDEA's purpose is to impose an affirmative equal protection obligation, the Court should not limit Court's discretion to award costs." (Read the amicus brief filed by COPAA)

The brief filed by the NDRN and the Center for Law and Education argued that "experts are critical to parents' ability to ensure that their child receive a free, appropriate public education" and that "IDEA's structure and text convey broad authority to District Courts to provide any appropriate relief to a prevailing party, including awarding parents the costs of obtaining an expert."
(Read the brief filed by NDRN)

For a comprehensive discussion of this case, including links to decisions, briefs, and news, go to Arlington v. Murphy. We will add new information as it is available, including Pete's impressions of Oral Argument.


3. Shouldn't a Deaf Child Be Taught by a Teacher?

"My child is deaf and 'low functioning.' The IEP Team wants to use an interpreter as her teacher. I think she needs to be taught by a teacher. Can you help?"

In Shouldn't a Deaf Child Be Taught be a Teacher?, Sue Heath cuts to the chase: "Interpreters are not teachers."

Sue describes the role of regular education teachers as members of the IEP team and why "high need children need skilled teachers." Learn about new requirements in IDEA 2004 about teaching grade level material, the differences between teachers and related services providers, research based instruction, and more.

Read Shouldn't a Deaf Child Be Taught be a Teacher?

Read more Doing Your Homework columns by Sue Heath.


4. Update: Online Training

"When will the online training take place? How can I register? Please send details!"

Many people are writing to ask about our online training plans, so we wanted to provide an update.

After the informal survey in mid-January, we took your requests back to the online training providers. We scheduled more demos in February and March. At the beginning of April, we signed a contract with WebEx to do online training.

We are now going through training with WebEx. They advised us that it will take about six weeks to complete this training and prepare for a trial run of the first program.

How to Use Tests & Measurements to Measure Your Child's Progress

After we complete the training, we will schedule the first online program. The subject will be "How to Use Tests and Measurements (the bell curve, standard scores, percentile ranks) to Measure Your Child's Progress."

The first program will be small - probably fewer than 50 participants. We will ask these people for their feedback to help us improve the presentation. The next program will probably be to a larger group - perhaps 100 people.

Pam is making a "Countdown" page that will include updates. We will also give you updates in the newsletter.


5. Wrightslaw Training Programs in MA, NY, PA, DE

Wrightslaw offers a variety of special education law and advocacy programs taught by experts in the field of special education law and advocacy.

The Spring 2006 schedule includes these programs:

May 11: Springfield, MA - Special Ed Law & Advocacy Training.
Speakers: Pete and Pam Wright

May 17: Rochester, NY - Special Ed Law & Advocacy Training sponsored by Greater Rochester SAFE. Speakers: Wayne Steedman and Pat Howey

June 7: Wilkes-Barre, PA - Special Education Advocacy Training sponsored by Supporting Autism and Families Everywhere - SAFE. Speaker: Pat Howey

June 14: Rehobeth Beach, DE - Special Ed Law & Advocacy Training sponsored by The Arc of Delaware. Speakers: Pete and Pam Wright


Full 2006 Schedule
l Program Descriptions


We are scheduling programs for 2007. If you are interested in bringing a Wrightslaw program to your community, please read Conference Information.


6. Subscription & Contact Info

The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education legal and advocacy issues, cases, and tactics and strategies. Newsletter subscribers also receive "alerts" about new cases, events, and special offers on Wrightslaw books. Subscribe


Contact Info

Pete and Pam Wright
Wrightslaw & The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043
Website: http://www.wrightslaw.com
Email: webmaster@wrightslaw.com

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