The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
April 15, 1999

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Issue - 30

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. N.Y. Bar Appeals Decision in Barlett To U.S. Supreme Court

Marilyn Bartlett has dyslexia. In 1993, Dr. Bartlett sued the New York Board of Law Examiners after the Bar denied requests to accommodate her reading disability.

The Bar claimed that Bartlett didn’t have a disability.

On September 14, 1998, the Second Circuit ruled that the Bar must provide Dr. Bartlett with accommodations for her disability. (September 14, 1998)

The appeals court found that -

"Reasonable accommodation of this disability will enable her to compete fairly with others in taking the examination, so that it will be her mastery of the legal skills and knowledge that the exam is designed to test—and not her disability—that determines whether or not she achieves a passing score."

The NY Bar has appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court.

Last night, Pete talked to Joanne Simon, attorney for Dr. Bartlett.

Joanne believes that the Court of Appeals issued a very strong well reasoned opinion.

She advised that there are no clear splits among circuits in this area of law. However, two cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court have some similarities to Bartlett. Oral argument in these cases will be held within the next few weeks.

Joanne is preparing her case. She will be in Washington, DC for these oral arguments.

Click here for background information about this case

Click her to read - Second Circuit’s decision in Bartlett v. NY State Board of Law Examiners

We’ll keep newsletter subscribers posted on developments in this important case.

2. N.C. School Physchologist Issues Warning to Parents in " Retention Revisited"

What happens when children fail to learn? For decades, there have been two "solutions" - social promotion and retention.

Retention doesn’t work. In many cases, retention damages children. About 90 percent of children who are retained more than once drop out of school.

Social promotions don’t work either. With social promotions, we have high school graduates who can’t read their diplomas.

According to a study by the North Carolina Research Council at U.N.C., about one-third of NC children are retained at least once before ninth grade. New policies about accountability may cause this number to increase dramatically.

In a passionate letter, N. C. school psychologist Guy McBride warns parents about an educational policy that will damage "the most vulnerable children" and "pit parents against educators."

"Even under the best of circumstances, the benefits of retention erode after three years. In many cases, children are hurt. Children retained in kindergarten and first grade are more likely to be hurt. Children who are slow learners or disabled are more likely to be hurt."

"Children who are hurt by the schools are more likely to drop out at age 16. This undermines our goal of a better educated population."

"Retention is inherently discriminatory. More poor children, more black children, and more disabled children will be retained than those who are not."

"There are more effective methods to increase performance without hurting our most fragile and vulnerable children."

Read Guy McBride’s letter

For more information about this subject, read "To Promote or Retain"

See also "View from the Top: How Principals View Learning Problems," an article that looks at the beliefs and perspectives of school principals who want to "solve" learning problems by retention or referral to special education.

3. Letter to Wrightslaw: Lightening Access to the Regs and Wrightslaw as a Comfort Blanket!

Recently, we received a message from Mary, an old friend from the CompuServe ADD Forum.

Mary wrote

"Thanks for your continued dedication to making a huge difference in the lives of my kids. You keep me informed about state-of-the-art practices. You give me access to legal info which empowers me to turn "emotions into advocacy" (to coin your phrase <g>)!"

"And thanks for the lightening access to the regs."

"I’m involved in a leadership/ advocacy training program called Partners in Policymaking. The feedback from the other participants after logging onto your site has been very positive. "

Why did Mary call Wrightslaw.com her "comfort blanket?"

4. News Flash! California Finds 273% Increase In Autism – No One Knows Why.

April 15, 1999. "In the past 10 years, California has had 273% increase in the number of children with autism who enter the developmental services system – 1,685 new cases last year alone . . . What is generally considered a rare condition is increasing faster here than other developmental disabilities. We need to find out why."

To read the "Report to the Legislature" go to the web site for the California Department of Developmental Disabilities at


This news article came from FEAT DAILY ONLINE (Families for Early Autism Treatment). For information about FEAT, go to


5. Coming Soon! First Anniversary Issue

Our web site is growing very fast – faster than we imagined possible.

Nearly 5,000 people subscribe to our newsletter – and the number of subscribers is doubling every four months.

You will soon receive the "First Anniversary Issue" of The Special Ed Advocate newsletter. This special edition will contain lots of new information about special education advocacy topics. We hope you enjoy it.


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