The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
June 15, 1999

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Issue - 33

ISSN: 1538-3202

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1. From West Virginia Mom: "Wrightslaw As An Antidote To Isolation"

I have two hearing impaired children who also have ADHD - they are now 22 and 19 and went through a system that failed miserably.

We knew what was wrong and fought for them but it seems you can litigate law, not intelligence.

Our lives were miserable because we were alone.

I knew as much as most local attorneys and even stumped state and federal lawyers to the point they said they would have to research a point. I am sure you are used to parents complaining all the time and you realize that, more often than not, there is something to it.

I just want to say, what you are doing here is beyond wonderful.

While raising our children I had access to the regulations and knew them well but what I missed is was what to do when the school does not follow the regulations. I know that most parents do not know special education law well enough to defend themselves when school administrators tell them (falsely) that they misread it, did not understand it or that it changed. As we parents get smarter, so does the school system.

Although I am done with this phase, I have book marked your site and recommend it to others. I suggest that they order your package and have ordered it for close friends and relatives.

I have a feeling your site has done more good than you will ever imagine.


2. Rene Writes "I Cried When I Read. . ."

I cried when I read your article "Learning problems at School: Whose Fault Is It?" This describes exactly what we have been going through with the school.


Although I don’t want the school/district staff make my son "the problem," I have spent considerable time wondering if I am "the problem" as "the professionals" suggested.

I know that other have had similar experiences. Now I know I'm not alone - I can fight another day.

3. Help! Trouble With My Kid's College

ROBIN left this message on our Bulletin Board:

If anyone can help me I would appreciate it. Reinventing the wheel again!!!

In a condensed version my son, age 20, is a sophomore at a large private university and is unable to complete the math requirement. Actually, he can't pass basic algebra to take the required math course. He is in the 2nd percentile for math and obtained 300 on math SAT.

Yet he completed his first year at another college as a dean's list student.

We are petitioning the University to waive the math requirement( they never have) or to allow a substitution course. The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation is backing us as is our son's tutor.

The math chair feels he can do it if he works hard enough!!! HELP!!

Does anyone have advice or experience dealing with problems at the university level? I am familiar with the Boston University decision.


Has anyone had success getting a waiver or substituting a required course.


I have four dyslexic/ADHD children and have had similar issues to yours. It's a good idea to convince the college that substitution of a math requirement or language requirement is necessary.

If you have reluctant administrators and your child is "otherwise qualified" and the private university is not religiously controlled and the university receives federal monies (i.e. student loans), I recommend that you contact your local Civil Rights Unit and request a complaint form.

In addition, I would file a complaint with the Department of Justice. I've found the DOJ to be very helpful.

Did the university accept your son knowing that he has dyscalculia? (If your son is majoring in a field that requires math, you need to think this through . .)

Request copies of all policies and procedures for serving the disabled and read them.

Understand what kind of "substitutions" are available for physically handicapped students - analogies can be helpful to people who are not enlightened.

Also, request copies of their grievance policies and begin the process . . . .

If your son's college is part of a "conference" of colleges, you might want to request copies of their policies etc. If one school in the conference provides the substitution your son needs, you want everyone to know about it!

I am now struggling with my son's college in New York. This is a small private college where they decided to cut services to students with disabilities and charge fees for "reasonable accommodations." This is not appropriate or legal.

A couple of years ago, my daughter filed suit against her college for failing to provide accommodations (equal access). The DOJ was very helpful. When the college learned that the DOJ was involved, they suddenly wanted to settle.

Settlement included collaboration with the college and DOJ to re-write their policies in addition to a monetary award.

Find out who the ADA coordinator is at the university, Send a letter. Call. Visit in person.

Check these sites for more assistance:

Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/

Office of Civil Rights - http://www.dhhs.gov/progorg/ocr/ocrhmpg.html

Find out what region you live in and give them a call!

Good luck!


4. Editor's Choice From The Bookstore

The Complete IEP Guide: How to Advocate For Your Special Ed Child

New from Nolo Press, THE COMPLETE IEP GUIDE describes the IEP and IEP process, how to get services for a child, how to resolve disputes with school districts, and more.

As most special ed parents know, the child’s special education is determined by educators and parents who work together to develop the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). This is process is often complicated and is stressful and intimidating to parents.

Here is what reviewers say about THE COMPLETE IEP GUIDE.

A "must have" for parents of special education children!

This book will become a "bible" for parents of special education children. The book is written clearly and concisely for the lay person.

The IEP process is spelled out in easy to follow steps.

The book includes letters and forms that can be copied or amended which are invaluable, and will help parents become effective advocates for their children.

The information in this book can save a parent thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees. If you buy just one book about special education this year, this should be the one!

Browse through the bookstore at https://www.wrightslaw.com/bkstore/bks_law.htm

Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Tool In Development of Effective Instructions.

Confused about IEP goals and objectives? You aren’t alone.

Pennsylvania psychologist Peg Kay recommends "Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development of Effective Instruction" by Robert Mager.

Check out his book and others in the Bookstore  https://www.wrightslaw.com/bkstore/bks_educate.htm

5. Advocacy Tip: Bring Food!

Our son is going through the evaluation process to enter special ed (he has ADD and has worked under a 504 plan which proved ineffective). Last week, I went to a meeting at the school with the vice principal, teachers, resource specialists and school counselors.

I took food! They loved me for it.

I didn't think it was fair that they had to attend this meeting on their lunch hour so I brought a sandwich tray - no big deal but it sure perked up their spirits.

They said it was the first time they had been treated to lunch by a parent. I hope it sent a message and helped put us on the same team.


Bringing food to school meetings is a good idea! When Pete and I do advocacy training sessions around the country, we recommend that parents bring food, especially when things are getting tense - or when meetings encroach on mealtimes.

Pete likes Krispy Kreme donuts for morning meetings. When you bring sandwiches, it does send a positive message that "We are working together as team."

When people break bread together, they view each other differently.


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