The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
October 17, 2001

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Issue: 137
ISSN: 1538-3202

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Highlights: Learn about persuasion and letter-writing; paper trails; new "Letters to the Stranger;" FETA Owner's Manual; help with FetaWeb; Houston conference.

Subscribers on Oct 16 2001: 31,542

1. Using Story-Telling to Persuade

When you advocate for a child with a disability, you write letters to:

* Request information
* Request action
* Provide information or describe an event
* Decline a request
* Express appreciation

You also use letters to build relationships, identify and solve problems, clarify decisions that are made or not made, and motivate people to take action.

Make your requests in writing. Write polite follow-up letters to document events, discussions, and meetings. Train yourself to write things down!

When you read this new article about story-telling and persuasion, you will see how a father used the storytelling approach to ask the school district to help his son and reimburse him for the costs of his son's special education.

Pay attention to your emotional reaction as you read this letter. Do you see Joe through his father's eyes? What happened to this happy child? Do you understand why the parents removed Joe from the public school program? What do you believe should be done to help Joe and his family?

This letter is an exhibit in Joseph James v. Upper Arlington School District. In September, 2000, the U. S. Court of Appeals issued a decision in Joe's case.

When you write a Letter to the Stranger, use facts to tell your story and offer support for your solution. Do not blame, criticize or find fault. Your goal is to create a desire to help from the decision-making Stranger.

2. Read "Letters to the Stranger"

Read the original "Letter to the Stranger" by Pete Wright and Janie Bowman. In this article, you will read the letter from the school, the parents' first angry letter, and the parents' revised letter that elicited a desire to help.

Read the letter that James Brody's parents wrote to request a due process hearing. Do you see how the parents told the story of James' education? Pay attention to the use of test scores in the letter.

After you read the letter, read the decision in James Brody's case.

3. Paper Trails & Advocacy Skills

Good records are important to effective advocacy. In an earlier issue of The Special Ed Advocate, you learned to use logs, calendars and journals to create paper trails and how to document phone calls and meetings.

If you have a dispute with the school, your log and letters are independent evidence that support your memory. Documents that support your position will help you resolve disputes early.

Visit our new topics page about Letter Writing & Paper Trails.

4. Get FETA Owner's Manual

Our new book, From Emotions to Advocacy, has a companion website.

Yesterday, we received an email from Susan who wrote: "Just received your book and am impressed with the organization and simplicity of presentation. You make references about going to Fetaweb.com for more information. I can't find this information. Am I doing something wrong?"

No, you aren't doing anything wrong! Yesterday, we posted the FETA Owner's Manual that has links to references in the book.

Learn more about FETA Book.

Read Chapter 1

Order FETA today.

5. Your Help With Fetaweb.com

We need your help. Please explore the new FetaWeb site. Send feedback and links to your favorite sites to

If we work together, we can make FetaWeb.com a great resource for parents, educators, and child advocates!

Here are the main links on FetaWeb

Main Page

Getting Started: Advocacy & Advocates, Master Plans, Project Managers

Advocacy 101: Rules of Game, Obstacles to Success, Conflict, Crisis

Free Resources & References: Appendices, Glossaries of Terms, Sample Letters, etc

Getting Help: Directories, Contact Info

We are working on these pages:

Parent as Expert: The File, Learning about the Disability, Tests & Measurements, IEPs

Special Education Law: IDEA, Section 504, ADA, FERPA

Tactics & Strategy: Assumptions, Image & Presentation, Paper Trails, Letters, Meetings

Send feedback and links to your favorite sites to

6. P2 Coming to Houston on October 20, 2001 - Act Now

Are you interested in learning about special education law and advocacy? Do you want an autographed copy of FETA?

Join Pete and Pam on Saturday, October 20 for a full day of advocacy training. The conference is approved for 6 hours of CLE credit.

Conference organizers advise that attendance is limited and they are running out of space.

Download the conference brochure.

For details, call (713) 957-1600

Coming Soon:

November 2: Colorado Springs
November 3: Denver
December 7 & 8: Honolulu

To get our speaking schedule please visit the Wrightslaw site.

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