name is James Brody. I have a learning disability called dyslexia. I
go to Landmark School in Prideís Crossing, Massachusetts. Before I started
going to Landmark, I was in a special education class at my public school.
The teachers didnít know how to teach kids with dyslexia so they didnít
teach me how to read or write.
School specializes in educating kids like me. After I started at Landmark,
everything changed for me. I learned to read. At Landmark, I read
my first book from start to finish. My parents asked our school system
to pay for my tuition at Landmark School but they refused. After they
refused, my parents filed for a special education Due Process Hearing.
This is my story about what it was like to go through a Due Process
for the Hearing
many thoughts going through my mind before the trial, such as "Oh
No! Iím going to have to dress up in uncomfortable clothes." Then
I thought, "Well, Iíd better start reading the testimony of my teachers
to see what they said about me."
My mother and I spent evenings reading over their depositions and
discussing what we read. (Note: Before the due process hearing, the
school board attorneys took discovery depositions of Jamesí teachers
at Landmark School.)
I read the testimony, I thought that it was going to be pretty easy
to testify. I also felt that the phone conferences stunk because of
the time delay caused by the speaker phones and because there was
a lot of repeating the same information.
Were All Nervous
of the trial arrived. Of course, since I have a noctural nature, I
was extremely tired, as usual. My father, mother and I were all nervous
about what was going to happen on the first day of trial.
was actually a conference room in a small building in the village
where I live. There was one table in the front at which the Judge
sat. Ten feet from the Judgeís table there were two other tables.
The school board attorneys and the director of special education sat
at one table and my family and our attorneys sat at the other. (Note:
James' attorneys were Pete Wright and Stacey Bawthinheimer.)
were extreme temperature rises and drops in the room because the air
conditioner was not set at a constant temperature and also was not
working properly. This effected everybody in the courtroom by either
making them sleepy, laid back, on edge, or nonchalant.
Experts Didn't Know Me
During the trial,
I thought it was pretty weird that two total strangers were counted
as expert witnesses for the other side and were allowed to sit in
on the whole trial. I was confused since our expert witnesses didnít
sit in and listen to the trial.
witnesses for the other side said what they thought should have been
done for me. I felt like they should have been removed from the courtroom
and only allowed to come in when it was their turn to testify.
I wondered who were these people who were making judgments about me
when they didnít even know me and had only read reports written by
other people who didnít really know me. This made me extremely angry
I was called to testify, it was fairly easy because my lawyer is a
Pro at court and preparing witnesses to take the stand. He told me
little secrets or strategies, whatever you would like to call it,
that helped me improve my concentration while on the stand.
For example, he said "Look at a spot on the wall when the lawyer is
asking a question, even if it is your own lawyer. When the lawyer
is done, look the judge in the eye and answer the question." He also
gave me other little hints to help me through the trial.
I was on the stand, I got pretty hot and had a dry throat. So, if
you ever have to testify, you should have a glass of water and hope
that the courtroom has a working air conditioner.
As the trial went
on, I started getting used to hearing my name being mentioned every
five minutes and hearing about reports about me. All in all, I felt
pretty proud of myself that I was able to make it through the last
year at my public school, considering the amount of stress I was experiencing.
though it was extremely stressful, I felt that I did very well through
the entire process. I was able to take the stand and answer all the
questions to the best of my ability. I was very happy that my family
filed for due process against my school district so I could go to
a school that specializes in helping kids with dyslexia.
Landmark changed my life.
about the issues in James' case, read the parents' "Letter
to the Stranger."
about the outcome in James' case, read the Review