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Date: November 15, 2006
Issue: 370
ISSN: 1538-3202

In this Issue


1. Can You Represent Your Child's Rights Under IDEA?

2. News! Supreme Court to Hear Winkelman v. Parma Sch. Dist.

3. Surviving Due Process: Jeffers v. School Bd.


4. Trial Preparation: The Paper Chase

5. Wrightslaw Programs in OK, NC, DE - and CA!

6. Subscribe & Contact Info



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Download this issue: http://www.wrightslaw.com/nltr/06/nl.1115.htm

All issues published in 2006
. Archives (1998-2006)


1. Can You Represent Your Child's Rights Under IDEA?

Can you represent your child's right under IDEA? The answer to this question depends on where you live.

If you live in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island or Puerto Rico, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that you may represent your child's IDEA rights at every stage of the process.

If you live in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, or Tennessee, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that you cannot represent your child's IDEA rights and that you must retain an attorney. If you cannot find or afford an attorney, your child's case will be dismissed - and you may be prosecuted for the Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL)!

In Can You Represent Your Child's Rights Under IDEA? Pete and Pam Wright explain why the legal landscape is so different in these states and what these cases mean for parents of children with disabilities who live in other states. You will also learn why this bizarre situation is likely to change.

Learn more about effective advocacy strategies.


2. News! U. S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Jacob Winkelman v. Parma City School District

Jacob Winkelman is a young child with an autism spectrum disorder. Jacob and his parents, Jeff and Sandee Winkelman, live in Ohio. Jacob's parents did not agree that the school's proposed placement in a district kindergarten program was appropriate for Jacob and requested a due process hearing. Other issues arose, including whether a private school that specialized in educating children with autism was Jacob's "current educational placement."

During the due process hearings and administrative appeals, Jacob was represented by his parents. After his parents received an adverse decision from the U. S. District Court, they appealed to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

On September 20, 2005, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that parents may not represent their children, nor their own interests, in federal court, and must must retain an attorney. "... the IDEA does not grant parents the right to represent their child in federal court . . . "[T]he text of the IDEA does not support the proposition that its guarantee of a [free appropriate public education] is a right that [a child] shares jointly with his parents." Jacob Winkelman, et al. v. Parma City Schools (6th Cir. 2005)

The parents appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court.

Before the Supreme Court decided to hear Jacob's case, they asked the Solicitor General to submit a brief "to express the views of the United States." The Solicitor General urged the Supreme Court to grant the petition for certiorari and "decide to what extent, if any, parents of children with disabilities may proceed pro se in a federal court action pursuant to IDEA." (
Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae)

On October 27, 2006, the U. S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Jacob's case.

Note to the Reader: We are working on a comprehensive article about Jacob Winkelman, et al. v. Parma City Schools and expect to publish it, along with links to pleadings filed in the case, within the next few days.

Learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorders, PDD, Asperger's Syndrome

More Special Education Caselaw

More Autism / ABA Caselaw


3. Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board

The Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board DVD video is based on the facts of Z.P. v. Henrico School Board (4th Cir. 2005).

Z.P. is a young child with autism. After the school district offered a program that was not appropriate, his parents placed him in a private school that specializes in educating young children with autism. After he made good progress, his parents requested that the school district reimburse them for his tuition. When the school district refused, the parents requested a special education due process hearing.

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board takes you through their due process hearing, from initial preparations to testimony by the final witness. See direct examination and dramatic cross-examination of witnesses, objections, arguments between counsel, and rulings by the hearing officer.

Trailers:Watch the trailer in Quicktime or on Windows Media Player

Learn more about due process hearings.


4. Trial Preparation: The Paper Chase

An issue of The Beacon: Journal of Special Education Law and Practice includes articles by attorneys and advocates about how to organize, manage and use documents in special education litigation. Although each contributor developed different approaches, they agreed on several key issues.

In The Choreography of Trial Preparation, trial attorney Barbara Ebenstein describes choreography, music, and trial preparation as creative endeavors. Instead movement or music, the litigator uses the medium of information from documents and the testimony of witnesses.

Ms. Ebenstein eloquently describes the balance of spontaneity and simplicity. When you examine documents, she explains that you should look for "negative space." Ms. Ebenstein shares her father's wise advice - "Read law!" Read article.

Do Documents Speak for Themselves? by Brice Palmer, If you examine documents carefully, you are likely to find the battle-winning theme of your case. Learn how to organize documents, recognize common fact-finding blunders, collect all records from all sources, and avoid "case-killer" arguments. Read article.

In Paper Trails: Documents, Exhibit Lists and Due Process Hearings, Pete Wright describes a systematic, step-by-step approach to organizing and maintaining documents generated in special education litigation from the initial interview through pre-trial preparation. Read article.

Beacon Archives 


5. Wrightslaw Special Ed Law & Advocacy Programs in OK, NC, DE ... and CA!

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


The Winter schedule includes these programs:

December 5: Oklahoma City, OK - Special Education Law & Advocacy Training sponsored by Oklahoma Disability Law Center. Speakers: Pete and Pam Wright. FREE to OK parents & caregivers.

February 13: Wilmington, DE - Special Education Law and Advocacy Training sponsored by the Parent Information Center of Delaware. Speakers: Pete and Pam Wright

February 20: San Diego, CA - Special Education Advocacy Training sponsored by the San Diego County Chapter of the Autism Society of America. Speakers: Pete and Pam Wright

February 27: Charlotte, NC - Special Education Law & Advocacy Training sponsored by The Arc of Mecklenburg County. Speakers: Pete and Pam Wright

March 8: Bangor, ME - Special Education Law & Advocacy Training sponsored by the Maine Parent Federation. Speaker: Pete Wright (details soon)

Schedule l Program Descriptions

We are now scheduling programs for 2007 and 2008. 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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