A New Generation of Advocates

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Bellinger Receives Equal Justice Works Fellowship

The Wrightslaw Army at William & Mary School of Law

For Texans with an interest in special ed,  I thought you may want to know that one of our law students, Sarah Bellinger, is headed to the Houston office of Advocacy, Inc.

As background, a  news article on the William & Mary School of Law website explains that:

“Before coming to William & Mary Law School, I worked as a social worker, mainly with victims of domestic violence and rape. As clinical coordinator for Alliance Adolescent and Children’s Services in Houston, a child-placement agency for children in foster care and the juvenile justice system, I saw the need for Special Education advocacy, as many of our children had unmet special education needs that crossed over into discipline problems. That experience sparked my passion for Special Education advocacy and inspired me to go to law school. After clerking for Advocacy, Inc., in summer 2008, I knew that this was the direction I wanted to take.”

Sarah  graduated from Tulane University, New Orleans, with a bachelor of arts degree magna cum laude in history, and a master’s degree in social work. At William & Mary Law School, she serves as Notes Editor of the William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law, has achieved honors in Legal Skills IV, is Co-Chair of the Public Service Fund, and Vice President of the Therapeutic Jurisprudence Society.

Currently, Sarah is enrolled in the Special Education Advocacy and Law course taught by Adjunct Professors Pamela Darr Wright and Peter Wright. The new course and new Special Education Advocacy Clinic are part of the Law School’s Parents Engaged for Learning Equality Initiative (PELE).

Being married to an MSW, I can attest that Sarah has the potential to develop into a Texas version of Pam Wright. Sarah is a standout in our class. She is one of our top students, so I want to give you a heads up.

The “Wrightslaw Army”

This is the term created by Jeffrey Breit, the Adjunct law professor who is responsible for bringing Pam and me to the Law School to teach special ed law and help set up their new Special Education Law and Advocacy Clinic. Breit’s  mission is to create a “Wrightslaw Army” of attorneys trained by Pete and Pam Wright. Sarah will hit the front lines, armed with knowledge and an array of skills.

To learn more about Sarah Bellinger and the Special Education Law and Advocacy Clinic at  William & Mary Law School, please go to:


  1. I’m in Minnesota and have question about holding kids with IEP’s a grade. Can a school hold a student because they are failing all the classes they take. The school is meeting the accommodations set out in the IEP. I’m looking for resources to validate the Yes answer or the No answer .

    Thank you

    • Bruce,

      I believe the school can but I am not sure. However, if seems to me the accomodations are not working and probably need to be changed or reworked. Parents should call for another IEP meeting to address this situation.

  2. My son’s high school is now refusing to honor his 504 plan that has been in place for the past 10 years, 2 at this school. When requested I was told that the 504 doesn’t trump California education code. I was also told that if I do not sign the form they sent me they would remove him from school, with in 3 school days. The form explicitly states that it is not to be used for a 504 nor an IEP I have pointed this out to no avail. The School Legal, who sent the form, has refused to return my phone call nor to answer the phone. WHAT DO I DO? IS THERE A LAWYER I CAN AND NEED TO HIRE?

  3. Can anyone tell me how to be able to ask questions for my children in a due process hearing for my grandchildren. I am a paralegal and the Hearing officer said as a paralegal I could only prepare questions for my children to ask. This must be a change with IDEA 2004, because I was able to ask questions in a 2003 due process for my granddaughter. Hearing for week of June 15 -22. HELP please.

  4. Children with special needs in our public schools definately need an army to help them get basic educational services. I am excited to see folks like Sarah devote her skills to this area of law.

    The sad reality is that our tax dollars fund our kids’ opponents and their allies (Law firms that are paid unlimited amounts of educational money to exclude kids in special education).

    Parents Outside of Texas) can be deputized for this battle by asserting rights and laws that already exists today.

    I wouldn’t say in all cases, but the allies occassionaly put their ethics aside to make room for all of the money that ommission “Earns” them.

    Bring on the reinforecements!

  5. Cant’ wait to have you join us for a Houston Lunch Bunch.

    And, one more plug for TOPAA (http://www.topaa.org – Texas Organization of Parents, Attorneys and Advocates)

    Check the website for a membership application.

    Things are really happening – how exciting!!

  6. Welcome to the Republic of Texas.

    The interservice transfer from Wrightslaw army to the Texas Posse is accepted ( we do everything in a posse here).

    TOPAA helps keep us linked together in Texas (http://www.topaa.org)

    Anything we can do help, let anyone of us know . There is an advocacy without borders theme that most us subscribe to.

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