Successful advocacy depends on having accurate information and knowing how to use it. The Special Education Advocacy Library includes these sections:
You are in the Articles section. Below is only a short listing of articles. Please go to the master topics page to find links to all topics on Wrightslaw. On each "Topics" page, you'll find a comprehensive listing of articles about that topic. The list of topics is on the left sidebar of each page.
If you are looking for articles about special education law and
litigation, go to Special Education Law
10 Tips: How to Use IDEA 2004 to Improve Education for Children with Disabilities by Wayne Steedman. Learn how to include research based methodology in the IEP and how ensure how that the IEP goals are comprehensive, specific -- and measurable. Learn about pitfalls to avoid, how to resolve disputes without a due process hearing - and what you should do if you cannot resolve your dispute.
10 Strategies to Fight Mandatory Retention & Other Damaging Policies - Sue Whitney explains how you you can find answers to questions in the law and provides strategies you can use to fight mandatory retention and other damaging policies.
Accommodations and Modifications: Pete Answers Questions About Word Banks and Calculators. Pete Wright answers questions about accommodations and modifications, discusses the teaching of skills v. providing accommodations and modifications, Diana Hanbury King and Helen Keller, and his "Big Gripe" about special education.
for Your Child - Getting Started. Good special education services are intensive
and expensive. Resources are limited. If you have a child with special needs,
you may wind up battling the school district for the services your child needs.
To prevail, you need information, skills, and tools.
Art of Writing Letters. Learn how to write effective letters that gain positive results. We introduce our "Letter to the Stranger" concept that is a trademark of our clients.
Asking the Right Questions. How does the school perceive you? Good article about how to ask questions and get better services.
Attention Deficit Disorder in Children: Developmental, Parenting and Treatment Issues. Pam Wright describes the challenges and rewards of parenting children with ADD/ADHD.
US DOE Releases Guidance on Civil Rights of Students with ADHD. July 2016, OCR clarifies the obligation of schools to provide FAPE for students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Attention Deficit Disorder: Schools Must Evaluate Children Who May Have ADD/ADHD. 1992 Memoradum from Office of Civil Rights clarifies that schools must evaluate children who are suspected of having ADD based on parental request.
Attention Deficit Disorder: Joint Policy Memorandum. 1991 Memorandum from the U. S. Department of Education; children with ADD/ADHD may be eligible for special education services under several existing categories (including LD, OHI, ED); circumstances under which schools must provide services and supports under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.Joint Memorandum from U. S. Department of Education.
Manual: Representing the Special Ed Child. A manual for attorneys
and advocates who represent children with disabilities by Pete Wright.
Looking for Caselaw? Find out how the Caselaw section is organized, find the Caselaw Library, noteworthy decisions, and Federal Court Complaints.
Carter, The Untold Story - Pete describes preparing for oral argument before the U. S. Supreme Court in Shannon Carter's case.
Child's IEP: Practical and Legal Guidance for Parents. Comprehensive
article that describes Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) from
legal and practical perspectives. Learn how to write measureable IEP
goals and objectives. Read this article in conjunction with our Tests
and Measurements article. The article includes:
Finder - When you read about a new decision that was issued by
the Eighth Circuit, do you know how this affects you? What is your
to find out!
Crisis! Emergency! Help! Learn how parents damage their credibility and their child's case by assuming that they must DO SOMETHING! If you are in a crisis, this article is a "must read" for you, and for parents who want to avoid school crises.
Employment Law Protections for Parents of Disabled and Ill Children. Attorney Loring Spolter describes The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that provides important job protections to parents who take time off from work to be with children receiving medical and psychiatric care or are recuperating from serious health concerns.
List" The verdict in the Whitehead case caused us
to think about retaliation against parents. In California, school
districts maintained and circulated the names of special ed parents
who were viewed as "enemies" of schools because they advocated on
behalf of their children.
FAPE: Who's Responsible? In this article, you will learn about the "free, appropriate public education " (FAPE) your child is entitled to under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, who is responsible for providing a free, appropriate public education and how it is delivered. You will also learn strategies you can use if you have a disagreement with your child's IEP team.
FAPE, Unilateral Graduation & Compensatory Education. Court finds that school district did not provide a FAPE, attempted to unilaterally graduate child, orders compensatory education. Download decision in Kevin T. v. Elmhurst (very large pdf file)
FAPE? Schools Must Provide Education That is Appropriate -- and Free. Court rules that a disabled child is entitled to appropriate education that is also free; orders school district to reimburse parents for child's tuition at private school.
From Emotions to Advocacy - The Parents Journey. Strong emotions cause parents to react, often with damaging results. Don't shoot yourself in the foot. If you are having problems with the school, use your head.
Functional Behavioral Assessments: What? Why? When? Where? Who? School districts are required to conduct functional behavioral analyses of problem behaviors. In this article, Dr. Stephen Starin describes problem behaviors, functional behavior assessments, environmental manipulation, and qualifications and training of evaluators.
Plan for New Parents. Introductory article; focuses on importance of planning
High Stakes! Can the School Use a Single Test to Retain My Child? Research editor Sue Heath answers questions from parents about high-stakes testing and mandatory retention.
How to Get Good IEP Goals and Objectives Pete answers questions about IEPs. What can parents do to get good goals and objectives in a child's IEP? What can parents do when the school wants to use subjective "teacher observations," not objective testing, to measure the child's progress? How and when should parents use a consultant to help with IEP goals and objectives. How can parents avoid "methodology disputes?"
to Disagree with the IEP Team Without Starting WW III.
answers questions from parents about how to disagree with the IEP
team. Learn about the Rules of Adverse Assumptions, how to use tape
recording and thank you letters to clarify issues; and how to deal
with an IEP team bully.
How to Deal with a Hostile Environment at School. School told child's aid that she may not tell parents about things that happen in the classroom. Can the school order the aid to keep silent? What rights do parents and aid have? How should parents deal with these situations?
to Resolve Special Education Disputes: Negotiate, Mediate or Litigate.
Learn how to use negotiation, mediation and litigation to resolve
disputes - and the pros and cons of each strategy.
IEPs: Starting a New IEP Advocacy Year: Back to School Tips. For parents of children with special needs, “back to school” means the start of a new IEP advocacy year. Here are some tips to help you monitor, evaluate, and document your child’s year at school from attorney Lisa Krizman.
Legal Research Primer by Stacey Stern of FindLaw. The Internet is becoming a great law library, with vast amounts of information only a mouse click away. New tools help with online research. Learn basic approaches for finding legal information on the Web.
Handling a Special Education Case - Minnesota lawyer Sonja Kerr provides advice about tactics and strategy to the lawyer who is handling his or her first special education case.
Letter to the Stranger: James Brody- Read the letter that James Brody's parents sent to request a special education due process hearing, then read the Brody decision in the Law Library.
Letter to Stranger: Joe James. In this Letter to the Stranger, Joe's father describes Joe and Joe's problems learning to read. Pay attention to your emotional reaction as you read this letter. Do you see Joe through his father's eyes? What is happening to this happy child? What do you believe should be done to help Joe?
Original Letter to the Stranger by Janie Bowman and Pete Wright. Original Letter to the Stranger posted on the CompuServe ADD Forum in 1994. Later, this article and other information from the ADD Forum became part of a Smithsonian Exhibit about online culture and communities.
McCarter Case: $250,000.00 Settlement. In case about sexual abuse by a classmate and failure to provide an appropriate education, the state, school district and parents entered into a settlement agreement of $250,000 for damages, attorneys’ fees and expenses, vocational and rehabilitation services, and state-wide policy changes.
Mediation - FAQs,Standards of Practice from Academy of Family Mediators. IDEA encourages the use of mediation to resolve disputes. In disputes between parent and school, a child is involved, the stakes are high, and emotions run strong. It's important for parents to learn about the mediation process, what mediation can and cannot accomplish, and how mediators should be trained.
Hearts, Not Poker: Eight Steps to Better IEP Meetings. In this
article, Jennifer Bollero (attorney and mother of a child with autism),
describes important differences between advocacy and parenting and
explains why you need to learn the rules and strategies - when you
learn the rules, you reduce the risks when you negotiate for your
Santa Clara (CA) Supervisors decided to hire legal staff - and may sue their own schools. Find out why the supervisors decided to take such drastic action.
IDEA v. Section 504. Many parents and educators are confused about rights and benefits under Section 504 and the IDEA. This article describes the purposes of these laws and differences in legal rights in several important areas: eligibility, procedural safeguards, impartial hearings, access v. educational benefit, and discipline.
504, the ADA, and Education Reform Describes key concepts under
Section 504 and ADA: comparable benefits and services, criteria and
methods of administration, reasonable accommodations; and maximum
feasible integration. Describes use of standards as a strategy for
SMART IEPs. Download SMART IEPs for your personal use, from Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy.
Spaulding Case. Why did a West Virginia jury award the parents of an autistic boy more than $300,000? Read the "story behind the story" too.
Support for School Personnel and Parent Training: Often Overlooked Keys to Success by Attorney Susan Bardet. To help children succeed, IEP teams can use the tools provided by IDEA, including support for school personnel and training for parents.
Teacher Says, "I Don't Care if He Has an IEP," - Mother Asks for Help - Background of the story; two questions; excellent advice about IEPs, IEP meetings, goals and accommodations, and one-on-one paraprofessionals from Suzanne Whitney Heath.
Three Generations of Orton at The Supreme Court - The International (Orton) Dyslexia Society had a significant role in Florence County School District Four v. Shannon Carter. The seeds were first planted in the early 1950's.
Promote or To Retain? Many school districts offer two "solutions"
to children's learning problems: retention and referral
to special education. All too often, schools fail to offer the critical
third "R" - remediation. What are the FACTS about retention?
This article is reading for our clients. To successfully negotiate for services that provide educational benefit, parents need to know how to interpret test scores. To ensure that you have the graphics in this article, print the article from the screen (rather than download it).
Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments will demystify the assessment process and make it less intimidating. In this comprehensive, easy-to-read book, you will find clear, concise answers to over 200 frequently asked questions about tests and assessments. You will find charts of tests and skills. The charts list tests to evaluate specific problems, the skills your child needs in these areas, and shows which tests measure these skills.
from the Top: How Principals View Learning Problems.
Article examines school culture and
beliefs from the perspective of school principals. Finds that ". .
. principals shared the prejudices and stereotypes of mainstream society.
The principals confused achievement with ability. Most claimed that
children with learning problems were "disadvantaged."
Whitehead Case: The Inside Story. The famous $600,000 jury verdict against the Hillsborough Florida school district - what was this case really about? Laura Whiteside, attorney for Andrew Whitehead and his parents, tells the "inside story."
Whitehead Case: Jury Awards $600,000 Damages to Parents - In Whitehead v. Hillsborough, a Florida jury took less than 2 hours before deciding that the school system retaliated against the parents of a child with Downs Syndrome.
Winds of Change - What will the future bring for our children? Judy Heumann, Assistant Secretary of the U. S. Department of Education, tells her own story. As a public school student in a wheel chair, she was viewed as a ":fire hazard" - and she was not allowed to attend school. Judy Heumann offers a roadmap about the future. Are we making progress? Have we gotten sidetracked?
Wrightslaw Circuit Finder - When you read about a new decision that was issued by the Eighth Circuit, do you know how this affects you? What is your circuit?
Court Decision in Zelman v. Harris-Simmons: Discussion by Pete Wright.
Are vouchers here to stay? If Congress acts to overturn impact of
this decision, how will it address vouchers for private schools that
have no religious affiliation? Discussion of U. S. Supreme Court decision
that a voucher program for public school students is constitutional
and does not violate the Establishment Clause.
Letters to Wrightslaw