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The Special Ed Advocate 
The Online Newsletter About Special Education and the Law
June 26, 2000  Vol. III , No. 21


1. Anatomy Of A Special Education Case 

2. Printer-Friendly Copies Of June Newsletters 

3. Wrightslaw Conference Schedule 

1. Anatomy Of A Special Education Case 

Most cases in our Law Library are decisions from the U. S. Courts of Appeals. How does a "typical" special education case unfold?

The mechanism to resolve special education disputes is the due process hearing. In this newsletter, you'll learn about the Stefan Jaynes case. Brian and Julianna Jaynes' young son Stefan has autism. The parents began an ABA program for their son after observing that he regressed in the public school preschool program. 

The Due Process Hearing

Eventually, Brian and Julianna retained Pete Wright and requested a due process hearing to resolve issues about their son's special education. Their due process hearing was held on December 9 and 10, 1998. 

On June 11, 1999, the Hearing Officer issued his decision in favor of the child and his parents. He awarded the parents $117,979.78 as reimbursement for the cost of their son's ABA program.

The Hearing Officer found that the child was damaged by the acts and omissions of the public school staff: 

"The mishandling of this case by Newport News Public Schools is inexcusable and tragic."

When you read the Hearing Officer's Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, you'll learn about tuition reimbursement, legal requirements for the continuum of alternative placements, the requirement to involve the child's parents in the IEP process, appropriate IEP goals and objectives, loss of educational opportunity, and damage to the child. 

The Review Officer's Decision

The next chapter of the story began when the State Review Officer affirmed the Hearing Officer's decision but reduced the award by half. 

The Review Officer found it "obvious" that school personnel "predetermined that Stefan be placed in a self-contained classroom and receive the PEEP program." He found that the preschool program was "little more than a nursery school" and that the school personnel showed "woeful disregard" of Stefan's needs as a child with autism. 

The Review Officer also found that the school's IEP was deficient and that the school made no attempt to involve Stefan's parents in developing his IEP. 

Why did the Review Officer reduce the award? Read the Review Officer's decision to find out.

Appeal to Federal  Court

On December 6, 1999, the case was appealed. To read the Complaint filed in Stefan's case, go to:

Judge Awards $103,000

On September 7, 2000, U. S. District Court Judge Henry Coke Morgan, Jr. issued a favorable decision in Stefan’s case and awarded the parents $103,000.

Judge Morgan found that the Newport News IEPs contained many deficiencies and that the district unilaterally “eliminated numerous programs from the IEP [and] provided no explanation or justification for striking these programs.” 
He discussed the importance of procedural safeguards. He found that the district failed to notify the parents of their rights including the right to a due process hearing. He discussed the need for “meaningful parental participation in the formulation and implementation of the IEP . . .” 

He ordered the school district to reimburse Stefan’s parents for his educational expenses from July 1, 1995 to the present.

School Districts Appeals to U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Newport News appealed Judge Morgan's decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

On June 7, 2001, oral argument in Jaynes v. Newport News was heard before a three judge panel.

On July 10 2001, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a favorable decision in Stefan's case.

Peter W. D. Wright is the attorney who represented Shannon Carter before the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the U. S. Supreme Court in Florence County School District Four v. Shannon Carter, where he received a unanimous decision in Shannon’s favor. Carter Links Page

Pete also represented Danny Lawyer in Lawyer v. Chesterfield Sch. Bd., Joe James in James v. Upper Arlington Sch. Bd, and James Brody in Brody v. Dare County Sch. Bd.

NOTE: Some of these decisions are in pdf format. To read these files, you must have Adobe Reader installed on your computer. Adobe Reader is free software that you can download from the Adobe site at - 

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2. Printer-Friendly Copies Of June Newsletters 

Today, we added three June newsletters to the Archives.

The JUNE 1 "Spring Cleaning Issue" included dozens of new links to Wrightslaw 
Libraries, sections and articles. 

The JUNE 5 newsletter included our new article about high stakes testing. The newsletter also included information about oral argument in the Marilyn Arons case and news about a whistle-blowing Kindergarten teacher who was awarded damages by OSHA. 

The JUNE 13 newsletter included links to the Wrightslaw Game Plans about IEP goals and objectives, resolving eligibility disagreements, and the new Wrightslaw Game Plan for New Parents

Wrightslaw newsletters are freeware! Pass them on to friends or colleagues.

3. Wrightslaw Conference Schedule 

We've received several inquiries about speaking engagements so here is a link to the Fall Conference schedule: 

  •  July 27-29: Huntington West Virginia 
  •  September 8 & 9: Bedford New Hampshire
  •  October 13-14: Long Island, NY
  •  November 8-11: Washington, DC. 
Get details and contact information at our Conference Schedule page

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Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 3rd Edition by Pete and Pam Wright
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Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
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Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
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Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
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