The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
February 23, 1999

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Issue - 27

ISSN: 1538-3202

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The Special Ed Advocate is our free online newsletter about special education legal issues, cases, tactics and strategy, educational methods that work, and Internet links.

We publish this newsletter occasionally, when time permits. Back issues of The Special Ed Advocate are archived at our web site -


As a subscriber to The Special Ed Advocate, you will receive announcements and "alerts" about new cases and other events. Contact, copyright, and subscription information can be found at the end of this newsletter.

1. Help! Wrightslaw Conducts Survey

Does Your State Publish Due Process Decisions On the Internet?

Are Your State Special Education Regulations Published on the Internet?

We have learned that some states post all due process decisions on the Internet.

The Texas Division of Special Education Hearing Decisions goes further. In addition to publishing the decisions, Texas includes a search feature on their site. You can search the decisions by Docket Number, Petitioner, Respondent, Hearing Officer or Issue.


We commend the state of Texas for providing parents and advocates with information about their legal rights and responsibilities.

Other states publish little useful information.

This caused us to ask, "How many states publish information about due process decisions and special education regulations on the Internet?"

We don’t know so we decided to ask for your help.

We are conducting a SURVEY of newsletter recipients for answers to three questions.


1. Does your state publish its due process decisions on the Internet? Yes or No.

If "Yes," please provide us with the URL (internet address) for due process decisions.


2. Does your state publish special education regulations on the Internet? Yes or No.

If "Yes," please provide us with the URL (Internet address) for your state regulations.


3. Your State of Residence.

If you have answers to these questions, please send your answers by e mail to: survey@wrightslaw.com

Click here for a printable copy of the survey

After we tally your responses, we’ll post our findings on the web site.

2. News Flash!Countdown on Final IDEA Regs

In June, 1997, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was reauthorized. In October, 1997, the U. S. Department of Education published the "Proposed Regs" in the Federal Register. Eighteen months later, the Final IDEA Regulations have not been issued by the U. S. Department of Education.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is responsible for reviewing new regulations to ensure that they are "consistent with change." Reliable sources advise that the OMB released the Final IDEA Regulations to the U. S. Department of Education on February 18, 1999.

The Department of Education is preparing to publish the Final IDEA Regs.

The DOE has "tentatively scheduled" satellite teleconferences for Wednesday, March 3 and Wednesday, March 10, 1999 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST. Questions will be fielded by Judy Heumann and Tom Hehir of the U. S. Department of Education.

Subscribers to The Special Ed Advocate will receive an Alert when the Final IDEA Regs are released.

3. U. S. Supreme Court Update: Cedar Rapids v. Garret F.

On Thursday, November 5, 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in the Cedar Rapids v. Garret F. case. Garret is a high school student who was paralyzed at age four in a motorcycle accident. On February 22, 1999, the Supreme Court has still not issued a final ruling in Garret’s case.


Garret’s mother asked the school to pay the cost of providing an attendant. She believes that the school district should provide Garret with an attendant as a service under the Individuals with Disabilities Act. The IDEA provides that all children with disabilities will receive a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE). School districts are required to provide "special education and related services."

The federal trial judge and the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled for Garret and against the school district. The appeals court decided that because the care Garret receives is not provided by a doctor, it is not exempt as a medical service.

The key issue in Garret’s case relates to nursing care that must be provided by his school district so he can attend school.


After hearing oral argument in a case, the Supreme Court Justices meet a few days later to cast their votes and decide how and by whom the decision will be written.

Traditionally, these meetings are held on Wednesday and Friday. If oral argument is on Monday or Tuesday, the outcome is decided at the Wednesday meeting. If oral argument is on Thursday, the outcome is decided in the Friday meeting.

If the decision is unanimous, a Justice is appointed to write the decision. This decision will be passed back and forth between the Justices for corrections before it is issued.

If the decision is not unanimous, the Justices decide who will write portions of the decision during these meetings.

Drafts that concur with and oppose the majority opinion are reviewed and edited by the Justices until the final decision is ready for release. If a long time passes between oral argument and issuance of the decision, this suggests that the decision may be split.


More than three months have passed since the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Garret’s case. The Supreme Court has not issued a decision in Garret’s case. The Supreme Court has issued decisions in cases that were argued after Garret’s case.

Burlington (1985) and Carter (1993) were unanimous decisions by the Supreme Court. The decisions in Burlington and Carter were issued within five weeks of oral argument.

The long wait in Garret’s case leads us to wonder if the decision is not unanimous.

Click here to get the Eighth Circuit’s decision in Garret’s case

4. Wrightslaw's Circuit Finder

Do you know your circuit? As we wrote the update about Garret’s case, we wondered how many readers knew the circuit they live in.

Garret lives in Iowa which is in the Eighth Circuit. Eighth Circuit decision are binding in these seven states:

  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Minnesota
  • Iowa
  • Missouri
  • Arkansas

What Circuit do you live in? Use our new Circuit Finder

5. Editor's Choice from the Advocate's Bookstore

What are Special Ed Advocates reading?

"Negotiating the Special Education Maze: A Guide for Parents & Teachers" is a bestseller.

Here are some comments about "Negotiating the Special Education Maze:"

"A MUST have reference for parents of a special ed child. If your child is in special education, this book is beyond value. It explains the processes involved, what schools are and are not permitted to do, and what you and they must do. This book gives you the base you need to work on behalf of your child."

"No parent facing a school's 'child study team' should be without this. You'll be amazed at the rights you and your child actually have!"

For information about "Negotiating the Special Ed Maze" and other good books about advocacy, go to



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