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The Maui News

Attorney in Key Special Education Case to Speak to Autism Group

April 22, 2009

KAHULUI - An attorney who represented a special-education plaintiff in a landmark Supreme Court case will appear at a Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Boot Camp for parents and professionals May 29 and 30.

Autism Bridges Maui will host attorney Pete Wright and psychotherapist Pam Wright at the two-day event in Maui Community College's Pa'ina Building.

With cutbacks to the state departments of Education and Health, "we feel this conference is extremely relevant and important to island families with special-needs children," an Autism Bridges Maui news release said.

Sessions run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days, with registration at 8 a.m. the first day.

The first day will focus on special-education laws, including an overview of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004. The second day will examine "Smart IEPs (Individualized Educational Programs)," No Child Left Behind and advocacy strategies.

Wrightslaw programs are designed to meet the needs of parents, advocates, educators, attorneys and health care providers who represent children with disabilities.

Pete Wright, who represents children with special-educational needs, knows firsthand the issues of overcoming a learning disability. As a 2nd-grader, he was diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia and attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder, also known as ADHD. He graduated from T.C. Williams Law School at the University of Richmond in 1977.

In 1993, Wright represented Shannon Carter and gave oral arguments before the U.S. Su-preme Court. In Florence County School District IV v. Shannon Carter, the high court ruled unanimously in Carter's favor.

Diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD, Carter entered high school functionally illiterate with 5th-grade reading skills. The school district IEP would have had Carter making four months of progress in one year of special education.

Carter's parents enrolled her in a private school that specialized in educating children with language learning disabilities and requested the school district to pay the tuition. Carter's parents sued the district after it refused.

The high court ruled that if a public school defaults and a child receives an appropriate education in a private institution, the parents are entitled to be reimbursed for the education.
Psychotherapist Pam Wright has worked with children and families since the early 1970s.

Pam and Pete Wright are adjunct professors of law at William & Mary Law School, where they teach a course on special-education law and advocacy.

They co-authored "Wrightslaw: Special Education Law"; "Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind"; "Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004"; and "Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy."

Cost of the course before May 1 is $125 per person or $200 per couple (two members of the same household); after May, it is $150 and $250.

The fee includes continental breakfast, lunch and afternoon refreshments both days. Those attending will receive "Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition" and "Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition."

Registration forms are at Web site www.autismbridgesmaui.org.

For more information, e-mail info@autismbridgesmaui.org or call 572-8070.

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