The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
November 13, 2001

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Issue: 141
ISSN: 1538-3202

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Highlights: New article about taming paper and organizing documents; new "Privacy & Education Records" topics page; update on "sleeper" privacy case before U. S. Supreme Court; four more states have "Yellow Pages."

Subscribers on November 13, 2001: 32,792

1. The Paper Chase: Your Child's File

If you have kids with special educational needs, you can be overwhelmed by the paperwork in no time at all.

From the beginning of school to the time your child either graduates or "ages out" of entitlement to special ed services, the accumulation of IEP's, evaluations, progress reports, correspondence, notes, journals, samples of your child's work, and medical records, will fill several drawers of a file cabinet or take up most of your shelf space.

You might be tempted to throw out papers but this may be a mistake. Even the oldest documents in your child's history can sometimes help you make a case for increased or different services under IDEA.

Make sure you understand the importance of different documents and that you organize them sensibly. This new article by Massachusetts attorney Bob Crabtree provides guidelines to help you survive your Paper Chase. You will learn:

* Which Documents Are Keepers?
* Your Child's Education Records
* What Documents Should You Create? How?
* Consulting with an Attorney
* Formal Discovery

Learn how to use a journal and create agreements - and how documents can resolve problems and get better services for your child. Read "Paper Chase" on Fetaweb.com.

2. New Privacy & Education Records Page

The October 24 issue of The Special Ed Advocate focused on parent rights under the Family Educational Records and Privacy Act (FERPA).

You learned that parents have a right to inspect and review all education records relating to their child. This right to "inspect and review" includes the right to have copies of records and to receive explanations and interpretations from school officials.

You learned that education records are instructional materials "including teacher's manuals, films, tapes, or other supplementary material which will be used in connection with any survey, analysis, or evaluation of a student." Education records are IEPs, tapes of IEP meetings, and letters between parents and schools.

You learned that the U. S. Department of Education says test protocols and answer sheets are education records.

Because many readers wanted more information about education records, privacy, test protocols, answer sheets, and FERPA, we built a new Privacy & Education Records Page with links to articles and other information about these issues. Get answers to your questions about education records and privacy at the Wrightslaw site.

More Topics Pages:

Advocacy by Parents


Assessment & Testing




Section 504 / ADA

Topics A-Z

3. Update on " Sleeper" Privacy Case Before U. S. Supreme Court

On October 24, we advised you that on November 27, the U. S. Supreme Court would hear oral argument in Falvo v. Owasso Indep. School District, and decide if allowing students to grade papers and call out grades in class violates the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

In "High Court Faces First School Records Case - Privacy Case Could Have Wide Impact," Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal reports that "A dispute in the U.S. Supreme Court over students' grading each other's tests and homework papers may emerge as the "sleeper" case of the term with potential ramifications for much civil rights litigation."

"The challenge appears to require the justices to engage in a classic exercise of statutory interpretation: Are student-graded homework and classroom work 'educational records' under the law?"

"But two background issues, if addressed by the Court, could carry the decision's impact far beyond classrooms in Owasso, Okla., says education law scholar William Kaplin of Catholic University School of Law. The justices may consider whether there is in fact a private cause of action to enforce the statute and whether federal courts should defer to 'opinion letters' issued by federal agencies on questions arising under federal laws."

The full article is available at the National Law Journal site (for a short time) and at the Law.com site (for a short time).

Read the decision from the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

4. New Yellow Pages for Kids: 5 States Down. . .

Last week, you learned that we are building "Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities" so people who love and work with our children can get information, support, and connect with one another. We included a link to the Colorado Yellow Pages.

Today, we posted Yellow Pages for the following states:



New Hampshire


Do you know about a support group or grassroots advocacy organization in Hawaii, Florida, NH, Colorado, or Ohio? To share this information with us and others, please go to the new Wrightslaw Forum:


Post a description and contact info for your group in the Yellow Pages for Kids area of the new Forum. Please begin your message with the two letter abbreviation for your state (CO, FL, HI, NH, OH) like this:

FL Support Group
OH Advocacy Group

Thanks for your help!

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