OK VA! It’s time to get on board!

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Public Comment Period in Progress on the revision of VA Special Education Regulations. Enter a comment now!

I just checked the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall Online. I can’t believe that no public comments have been submitted.

Does this mean VA parents and advocates are in agreement with the proposed revisions to the regulations and the erosion of parental rights?

Is this what legislators will think?

Perhaps few people know of this forum and the ease of submitting a comment.

The Virginia Regulatory Town Hall is a comprehensive source of information about regulatory changes under consideration in Virginia. You can find regulations, track proposed changes, and read the action summary of the revision of the VA special education regulations.

You can submit on-line comments about regulatory changes.

Public hearings began this week and will continue across the state until June 4. The public comment period ends June 30, 2008. Find out more about the proposed changes, read about Governor Kaine’s concerns, find the public hearing schedule, read other position statements, and find out what to say and how to express your opinion.

  • Attend a hearing
  • Submit a written comment to VDOE
  • Contact the Governor’s Office or a member of the state Board of Education

Or, submit an online comment through the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall. It’s so easy.

Come on Virginia! It’s time to make your voice heard.

  1. At the public hearing in Tappahannock on Tuesday, June 3, Pete Wright commented on VDOE’s plan to take over the selection and appointment of Hearing Officers from the Virginia Supreme Court in proposed regulation 81-210. He also attacked VDOE’s plan to review, analyze and edit decisions of hearing officers, improve “readability,” and correct other “errors.”

    Pete advised that if enacted, these VDOE proposals will tarnish the impartial due process hearing process by allowing the fox to guard the chicken coop. Read his written comment at:

    A public hearing will be held in Charlottesville on Wednesday, June 4. Written comments will be accepted until June 30, 2008.

    Pete and Pam Wright will submit additional written comments and you can too. To learn how you can submit comments about VDOE’s proposed regulations, please go to https://www.wrightslaw.com/virginia/regs.index.htm

    The process is simple.

  2. Kathy: Good points. We should be able to use the language in that regulation about parental participation to support our position that Virginia’s proposed regs on this issue are incorrect and must be changed.

    You are right – state law must be consistent with federal law – federal law is supreme. IDEA is a federal law that sets forth the minimum requirements for special education. States can provide more than the minimum, but they cannot provide less.

  3. Amy: Thanks for letting us know that we made a difference in your life.

    I think most parents think “calvary” are going to come in and save their children. Some parents maintain this belief for years – that someone else is taking care of the child’s problems. When they realize that the child is not getting the help s/he needs, and has fallen further behind, they feel angry, betrayed — and guilty. They go from being overly trusting to not trusting anyone. Relationships get polarized and may stay that way for the rest of the child’s school career.

    That’s why we urge parents to develop a business like relationship with school personnel, ask questions, track data, and stay involved.

  4. Thanks for always being the voice of the children. When my son lost skills at 18 months and received the DX of Autism shorly after, I knew that the “calvary” was going to come in and help me rehabilitate my son. I WAS WRONG! I quickly learned that the “calvary” was me. Thanks for spending your time to help educate parents on the laws and helping me become an advocate is SW VA! Your words of encouragement through emails were some days the only hope I had at first with your newsletter.

    You helped me find the help I needed to get through this overwhelming situation and gave me hope for mankind again.

  5. Thanks for reminding about the public comment period. I went straight to the site and added a comment.. I will certainly get the word out to others.

  6. Hi Pam,
    Thanks you taking the time to respond, and I appreciate the opportunity to thank you for all your terrific work on behalf of all the kids.

    The reason I asked about Winkleman is that Kennedy also wrote in regards to affirming parental rights, the importance of parental involvement and described the essential role of parents in ensuring that their child receives a FAPE.

    Also IDEA 2004 in section 300.501, etc. list specific regs that strengthen the role and responsibility of parents. One includes requiring parents to be members of any group that makes decisions about the child.

    It would seem to indicate that the proposed reg changes Virginia wants to make are in direct violation of the federal law.

    I thought state regs had to be in compliance with federal laws.

    I’m just trying to understand how VA can just decide to write regs that would be in violation of the laws.

    Am I wrong? Can the state regs violate federal regs?

    Thanks again,

  7. Need Inspiration? Read This!

    J. Todd Foster, managing editor of the Bristol Herald Courier, wrote an editorial about the proposed regulations. His editorial will inspire you.

    Read about Todd’s young son, Tyler, and how his parents fought for the services he needed. This editorial got Governor Kaine’s attention. Governor Kaine traveled to Bristol and met with this father. When you read this, you’ll understand why:

    “Quietly under the public’s radar, changes have been brewing with Virginia’s special-education rules. It’s a complicated issue with a labyrinth of bureaucratic red tape and jargon, but the upshot is that the state Board of Education soon will consider removing parents from a vital part of the special-education process.”

    Bristol Herald Courier/www.tricities.com

  8. Public Hearings: Who, What, When, Where, Why, & How

    The Virginia Department of Education is holding public hearings to take comment on their proposed / draft special education regulations. Many educators, parents, child advocates, and Governor Kaine are extremely concerned that VDOE added new provisions to limit parental participation in decisions regarding changes in their children’s special education programs.

    If we act together, we can stop this proposed plan.

    Four hearings have been held. Last week, a group of 70 parents attended the public hearing in Roanoke. Thank you Roanoke!

    Five public hearings are scheduled between May 27 and June 4. These hearings will be held in Midlothian, Norfolk, Vienna, Tappahannock, and Charlottesville. Schedule and location for public hearings:

    PLEASE plan to attend the public hearing in your area. Bring friends and family. Encourage other parents to attend. Ask the education reporter for your newspaper to attend. We need to make our voices heard. Send your comments and letters to Governor Tim Kaine and your delegate.

    Write a “Letter to the Editor” to your local newspaper. We need to educate people in our communities about the need to increase parental involvement, not shut parents out of decision-making for their children. (We will post a link to a letter one father sent – it got Governor Kaine’s attention!)

    Tips for Giving Testimony at Public Hearings from JustChildren

    * Who Can Testify At Public Hearings?
    * When and Where Will Public Hearings Be Held?
    * Why You Should Go to a Public Hearing?
    * Where Can You Find the Proposed or Draft Regulations?
    * What is the Procedure for Testifying?
    * What Can You Expect at the Hearing?
    * Hints for Your Testimony
    * How You Can Use Your Testimony in Other Ways

    For more information about how you can submit a comment during a public hearing and/or in writing, go to


  9. Amy: Congratulations for getting a group of 70 parents together for the hearing in Roanoke. We encourage parents to turn out in force and comment about how these proposed changes will affect their child and their family. If we take this lying down … the outcome won’t be good. There are many more parents than employees at the VADOE.

    And thanks for telling us that Noah is getting the services he needs. We can’t take credit – YOU did it.

    Joan: Are you planning to go to a public comment session? Your story is a compelling reason why the regulations should not be changed.

    Kathy: I’m not the lawyer in this family but I doubt the VADOE is influenced by Justice Kennedy wrote in Winkelman v. Parma. If anyone is curious about this pro parent decision, you can find it at:


    In essence, the Supreme Court ruled that parents may represent their children’s interests in special education cases, they are not required to hire a lawyer before going to court. The Court held that parents have legal rights under the IDEA and can pursue IDEA claims on their own behalf, even though they are not licensed attorneys.

    I have to say that this is not the best or wisest course of action for most. It does open the door for those who have the necessary knowledge, skills, and temperament to engage in litigation on behalf of your child. ~ Pam

  10. When I first read of the proposed changes, I thought this can not be possible. After all, we live in America. We have the freedom of speech and now the VDOE wants to take that away from us? It just can’t be! In our school system we have little to no voice as it is and to take away all of our voices and concerns for our children, our children will not get what they need to thrive. Our school does as little as possible as it is for our children and if our concerns are not heard, then the needs of our children will not be met. My daughter is 6 1/2 years old and has Down syndrome and autism. Our schools refuse to acknowledge that she has autism even though the developmental doctor diagnosed her with it. We constantly address the autism diagnosis to the school and hopefully one day the school will begin to meet our daughter’s needs. If the VDOE takes our voices away, her autism diagnosis will never be addressed by our school system. Our daughter escaped from school 2 weeks ago. No one knows for sure how long she was gone. The school says 2-7 mnutes, our calculation is 17-22 minutes. Anything could have happened, but luckily she was discovered unharmed. You see, she wasn’t even missing. She walked into the school one morning and walked through the entire school and no one ever noticed that she was unattended. She was never missing, she was just discovered by a student and a P.E. teacher outside. We have told the school time and time again that she needs a one-to-one aide for safety issues, and even after this incident, the school still refuses to hear our cries for our daughter’s needs, but we refuse to lie down and give up. Is that what the VDOE want parents to do? Give up on our children? Our children are our future and we are here to help them and to provide them with what they need. If our schools won’t do it and the parents aren’t allowed to do it, then who will do it? I beg that proposed changes to the Virginia Special Educaton Regulations not be revised to take away the parnetal rights to their children. Please hear our voices and our concerns for our children.

  11. I was outraged when I read the purposed changes the VDOE announced. We parents in Virginia are speaking out – about 70 parents attended the public forum in Roanoke, VA on Wednesday night.

    In our county it is extreme hard to get the services our children require. Removing parents from the behavioral team is only another tactic to keep our children from having the best advocates they can – US!

    My son, is receiving the intensive services he requires – thanks to you, Pete! Without Wrightslaw Second Edition – I would have never been able to weed through all the laws to educate myself quickly to hold our school division to the law. Thank you for helping me save Noah’s life with the intensive ABA we requires to make the excellent progress he has over this year!!

    Amy Trail

  12. Given the decision in Wainwright, given Kennedy’s wording on parental involvement, how does Virginia think this will stand if challenged?

    Thanks Pete for all that you do.

    Kathy Kyger

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