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January 20, 2009

ISSN: 1538-3202

Issue: 470
Subscribers: 67,166

In This Issue:

Personal Message from P2: Service to Others

PELE Special Ed Advocacy Clinic Helps Families

Resources: Special Ed Legal Clinics

You Are Invited to the PELE Kickoff!

"Ask What YOU Can Do for Your Country" - Service to Others

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Pete and Pam Wright
Wrightslaw & The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043

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Copyright 2009, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved. Please do NOT reprint or host on your web site without explicit permission.

As the number of children with special educational needs increases, the number of knowledgeable attorneys who can represent these children isn't keeping pace.

Although parents are the best advocates for their children, they often face overwhelming obstacles in their quest to obtain quality special education services for their children. To help meet this need, law schools are developing Special Education Law and Advocacy Clinics.

In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate, you'll learn about the new PELE Special Education Advocacy Clinic at the William & Mary Law School and how special education legal clinics help children with disabilities. Don't miss this opportunity to join the kick-off for the new PELE Special Education Advocacy Clinic. Pete and Pam have a personal message about the importance of service to others.

Please don't hesitate to forward this issue to other families, friends, and colleagues.

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Personal Message from P2: Service to Others

As President Barack Obama takes office today, he will call for personal responsibility and service to others. "Let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other." Full text of 11/4/08 speech.

President John Fitzgerald KennedyOn January 20, 1961, Pete and Pam attended President John F. Kennedy's inauguration. We were 15 years old, and didn't know each other at the time. During the night, a foot of snow fell on the city. Winds blew the snow into chest-high drifts. In the bitter cold, we listened and were inspired by President Kennedy's call for change and service to others:

John Fitzgerald Kennedy"We observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom -- symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning -- signifying renewal, as well as change ... And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." Full text of speech

Our parents had strong work ethics and high expectations for us. They advised that we should live and take action "to leave the world a better place." President Kennedy's words echoed the lessons learned from our parents.

Reverand Martin Luther King, JrIn August 1963, we attended the March on Washington (and did not know each other). We joined masses of people who marched down the Mall to the Lincoln Memorial where we heard Dr. Martin Luther King give his "I Have a Dream" speech.

We are grateful for MLK, for Obama, for the power of a single individual, and for the reality of hope.

For those whose memories of Dr. King are faint, you may want to view this truly touching tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.
We dedicated our lives to helping children and their families. In so doing, we learned that service to others has enormous rewards.

Recently, the William and Mary Law School offered us a unique opportunity to serve. The Law School asked us to help establish the PELE Special Education Advocacy Legal Clinic. We would also teach Special Education Law and Advocacy as Adjunct Professors of Law.

What a remarkable opportunity!

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PELE Special Ed Advocacy Clinic Helps Families with Special Education Needs

The PELE Special Education Advocacy Clinic will assist families of children with special education needs through education and advocacy efforts before and during the eligibility and IEP processes. The Clinic will provide free legal representation for families of disabled children.

couple talking with attorneyJeffrey Breit, Past VTLA President and Adjunct Professor at the Law School, and was instrumental in getting the PELE Clinic off the ground, says "The idea for the clinic is to train law students so that they can be child advocates to help the families with the [special education] process ...

"We have the advantage of having Pete and Pam Wright, who are two of the leading experts in the country in this area of law who happen to live in Virginia. They have become Adjunct Professors at William & Mary and have agreed to help guide the clinic."

"This will be a multi-disciplinary clinic that will team law students with graduate education students in an effort to allow future professionals to learn across disciplines, and to provide more holistic assistance to the families."

Read more about the PELE Special Education Advocacy Clinic and how you can help in the Law Letter Online published by the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association.

Resources: Special Education Advocacy Legal Clinics

Law schools around the country are creating innovative Special Education programs to protect the rights of children with disabilities while introducing law students to the growing field of special education law.

Under the supervision of a special education attorney, law students learn the knowledge and skills required of special education law practitioners by studying special education law - as it applies to real families and real cases.

Special Education Advocacy Legal Clinics assist children with disabilities by working with families to:

  • Provide direct legal representation and effective advocacy at IEP meetings, mediation, and due process;
  • Ensure that children obtain timely educational evaluations;
  • Secure appropriate special education services and supports;
  • Empower parents by offering resources, training and support.

Some Clinics focus on special education law. Some combine special education and children's health care issues. Others offer assistance with domestic violence, school discipline problems, and juvenile delinquency matters.

If your family needs legal advice or assistance, contact the law schools in your state. At least one law school may have a Special Education Law or Children's Advocacy Clinic - and people who are ready to help.

(Note: Virginia has clinics at the University of Virginia, the University of Richmond, and the College of William and Mary)

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You are Invited to the PELE Kick-Off

Colonial Williamsburg, VAHelp kick-off William and Mary's new PELE Program!

Join national experts Pete and Pam Wright for a Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Conference. William & Mary Law School is sponsoring a fundraiser for the Parents Engaged for Learning Equality (PELE) program.

Walk the same brick pathways where Thomas Jefferson ran when he was late to class. Find out what "colonial cool" is. Spend a day or a weekend in the historic "Burg."

Register Now

Co-sponsored by the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, the Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia, and the Peninsula Autism Society.

Parents, attorneys, and advocates will learn about:

  • Changes in IDEA 2004
  • IEP and Eligibility Issues
  • Evaluations, reevals, parental consent
  • Tests & Measurements
  • SMART IEPs
  • Requirements in No Child Left Behind

Learn more about this program.

Please pass information about this conference on to your colleagues, friends and clients who may be interested in attending. If you are interested in volunteering for PELE, you may contact Jeffrey Breit at jbreit@bdbmail.com or Patty Roberts at William & Mary at perobe@wm.edu.

Wrightslaw programs often fill up early - don't miss out! Register today!

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"Ask What YOU Can Do For Your Country" - Service to Others

President Obama is asking Americans for more than one day of service. He asks all of us to make an ongoing commitment to service as part of our lives.

Service is a way to identify needs, improve and engage people in our communities, and work with other groups to create new community service opportunities. And it's a great way to meet people and make new friends.

Stumped about what YOU can do? You'll find good ideas at USAService.org at http://www.usaservice.org/content/home/

Here are a just few service activities near our home in Virginia:

  • Adopt a Street Program - (Keep Norfolk Beautiful - Day of Service)
  • March for Babies (Day of Service)
  • Contribute to Your Local Shelter
  • Pet First Aid Training (Education)
  • Blood Drive
  • Help the SPCA (Civic & Community)
  • Understanding Your Investments Class (Day of Service)
  • Weekend Food Drives; Extinguish Hunger Food Drive
  • Community Cleanup (Environment)
  • Safe Nights (Safe Shelter and Hot Meal for Homeless)
  • Community Action for Health
  • We the People (brainstorm about how to help our community)

Want to find activities near you? Click Find an Event and plug in your zip code.

Get advice about how to Plan an Event at http://usaservice.org/page/event/create

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What People Are Saying About The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter

"Thanks for the trustworthy information and support you provide through the Wrightslaw web site and newsletter. You helped our family act when we needed to - we are thriving now."

 

Great Products From Wrightslaw

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board

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