The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
October 28, 1999

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Issue - 47

ISSN: 1538-3202

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

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1. Letter to Wrightslaw: "What Does the Law Say About Grades?"

Ken asks, "What does the law say about grades for children with disabilities?"

"I am a special education teacher. Our director has told us that our students are not "allowed" to make any grades below a C (no D’s or F’s are allowed)."

"The director said if a child receives a grade below a C, this means the IEP isn't valid and we need a new IEP with a functional behavior assessment attached because the only reason a child should make grade below a C is because of behavior."

"Could you please direct me to the law or anything in the law regarding this subject?"

What do you think? Should all kids with disabilities receive grades of C or above? Should teachers be told to give passing grades? Why is so much attention being paid to passing grades?

Wrightslaw answers:

"Your director's advice about giving children passing grades could get him /her and the teachers into hot water. If special ed kids always get passing grades, it won't take a lawyer or an auditor to know that someone is cooking the books."

Read the rest of our answer to Ken.

2. Letter to Wrightslaw:"Aren't IEPA Confidential?"

Jean writes:

"At a recent workshop, the presenters said that teachers have the right to have copies of their students' IEPs in the classroom. Is this right? How can confidentiality be maintained if the teachers have copies of IEPs?"

"It seems to me that giving teachers copies of IEPs is a gross violation of the confidentiality of students with special needs."

"If this information is correct, how should I deal with students at the high school level who have more than one teacher?"

Read our answer to Jean

3. Wrightslaw: Special Education Law: A Runaway Bestseller?

News spreads like wildfire on the Internet! Wrightslaw: Special Education Law (ISBN: 1-892320-03-7) is scheduled for publication on November 9, 1999.

A few weeks ago, Amazon.com added Wrightslaw: Special Education Law to their online bookstore. If you search Amazon using the terms "special education," the search will take you to Wrightslaw: Special Education Law.

Amazon provides sales information in the form of a numerical "rank" for the books they carry. Wrightslaw: Special Education Law has consistently ranked between 2,500 and 8,000 out of Amazon’s 2.5 million titles. How often has a legal reference book become a bestseller?

Parents, educational consultants, and attorneys who represent children with disabilities have posted early reviews on the Amazon site. Although most reviews are positive, one reviewer thought the book wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on!

Take a minute to check out these reviews at Amazon–what do you think?

If you’ve read this book, please add your own review.

For more information about the book.

4. Update on The Advocacy Challenge Program

Because attorneys, advocates, educators, and parents need accurate, affordable information about special education law, Harbor House Law Press began the Advocacy Challenge Program. People who teach advocacy classes, provide training, or distribute books to parents of children with disabilities can buy units of 20 books at half price. Although the book retails for $29.95, Advocacy Challenge participants can purchase 20 books for $299.50 plus shipping.

Advocacy groups in several states have accepted the Challenge and are purchasing this book for training and conferences.

For more information about the Advocacy Challenge Program

5. New Film - Anya's Bell

Della Reese plays the title role in ANYA’S BELL, a new film about a friendship between a blind woman and a 12 year old boy with dyslexia who teach each other to overcome their disabilities.

The following information is taken from a press release about the film:

It’s 1949 and Scott Rhymes is caught cheating on a spelling test. His teacher calls his mother, Jeanne, in for a conference. The teacher advises Jeanne that Scott will be held back a grade.

Jeanne learns that her son is seated in what the teacher describes as the "dumb section" of the class.

Scott works as a delivery boy for a drug store. He delivers a prescription to an older woman, Anya Herpick. When she accidentally overpays him, he tells her the truth. She is impressed with his honesty. Anya invites Scott into her home. She shows him her collection of bells from all over the world. Scott learns that Anya is blind.

Scott learns that Anya must move to a home for the blind because she cannot care for herself. Unwilling to lose his new friend, Scott teaches her how to use a rod-cane that will allow her to get around on her own.

Anya teaches Scott how to read in Braille. Concerned about his reading problems, she asks him to read a printed book to her. He tells her that the words seem "jumbled around" on the page. Anya’s suspects that Scott has dyslexia and is not the "retard" that the kids have labeled him. Their bond allows Anya to break through Scott’s fears and find help for him.

The film ANYA’S BELL will be broadcast on Sunday evening (October 31) between 9:00 and 11:00 ET (CBS).

NOTE: In 1953, Pete Wright was diagnosed with dyslexia. He was seven years old. For the next two years, Pete had intensive Orton-Gillingham remediation every day after school.

Because he was remediated, Pete Wright can read, write, spell, do arithmetic–and write a best-selling law reference book!

Turn the clock forward. It’s 1999. Effective remediation techniques for people with dyslexia have been available for more than 50 years. Despite this, most children with dyslexia are not remediated. Most teachers do not know how to remediate.

Over the past 50 years, how many dyslexic children have left school without learning how to read, write and spell? Why?

To read Pete’s story, go to


6. News Flash! Bad News in Boston

(This editorial was published in the Boston Herald on October 27, 1999. A link to the editorial is at the end of this article.)

"Special Education At Issue: Bad News In Boston"

"The Boston Public Schools are planning to take away speech therapy and other individualized special education services for parochial and other private school students. It's been a long time since the schools have perpetrated anything this ugly and mean-spirited. And it just may be illegal."

"What this is supposed to do is save $200,000 or so spent annually on about 200 children - all of whose parents pay taxes to the city. If the parents were to send their children to public school, they'd probably cost the city five times as much."

"The explanation the school department offers is that these services are no longer required by federal law. But neither is there any prohibition on such help."

"Federal law is a set of minimum requirements. In Massachusetts, state law is much broader. For instance, Chapter 71B, Section 3 of the General Laws (which is where the famous Chapter 766 of 1972 appears) requires school committees of every city and town to "identify the school age children residing therein who have special needs"-not just children enrolled in their schools."

"Obligations not to discriminate in serving special-needs children were recognized long before the passage of Chapter 766. The attorney general ruled in 1963 that any school committee providing speech therapy for its own children must also do so for private school children."

"If money's the object, why not cut off the more than $2 million a year the city of Boston pays for transportation for private-school students?"

"But money is not the object. The object is the coercive maintenance of a monopoly: Our way or the highway, Jack. It's ugly, it's stupid, it discriminates against Catholics (most are parochial school students) and the School Committee ought to stop it immediately."

Thanks for FEAT for this article.

Link to FEAT: http://www.feat.org

LINK to the Boston Herald editorial


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