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Topics Page

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If you need information about a specific topic, this is the place to begin. Information on this page is organized by topic or key word.

Before long, most of these topics will have separate pages (for example, for additional information about IEPs, visit the IEP Page). If you cannot find what you are looking for on these pages, use the search box at the top of each page.


Anatomy of a Special Education Case. Read the case of a young child with autism, from the original due process hearing through the federal court decision; includes links to pleadings and decisions. 

Settlement to Parents of Child with Autism. Describes issues in ABA/Lovaas case on behalf of young child with autism.

TEACCH v. ABA Debate. Pete answers questions about methods used to educate young children with autism.


Advocating 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.

Wrightslaw Game Plan for New Parents. Introductory article; emphasizes planning and preparation.

Representing the Special Ed Child: A Manual for the Attorney and Lay Advocate. Comprehensive article about representing the child with a disability, from analyzing legal issues, legal principles, analyzing evidence, getting additional evidence, through the due process hearing.

Three Generations at the Supreme Court. Attorney Pete Wright (who has dyslexia) represented Shannon Carter (who has dyslexia) before the U. S. Supreme Court. 

Assessment/ Evaluations / High Stakes Tests

Lawsuit Against High Stakes Test Filed in California. Disabilities Rights Advocates files lawsuit against California Dept of Education; claims that exit exam discriminates because it does not provide for an alternate assessment, provides no procedure for requesting accommodations, nor a process for appeals.

Are Childen with Disabilities Required to Take High Stakes Tests? Answers to questions about using high stakes tests for children with disabilities.

Judge Asked for Injunction So Seniors Can Graduate. Battles about high-stakes tests are flaring up around the country: issues include high expectations v. accountability, due process rights, obligations to teach basic skills. 

Understanding Tests and Measurements for the Parent and Advocate. While you need to understand the law, it is more important that you understand your child's test score and what they mean. #1 download on Wrightslaw.  

Assistive Technology

Why Should Children Learn to Touch-type? Technology allows people with disabilities to "work around" their disabilities and be more independent.


Key Issues in Witte v. Clark County Pete discusses the Witte case about punitive and monetary damages on behalf of a disabled child who was abused.

Judge Allows Lawsuit for Damages Against Hawaii. Judge rules that a family can sue to force the state to pay for therapy for their 6-year old autistic daughter and can seek punitive damages for the emotional distress suffered while trying to get services for their child.


Can the School Expel a Child with ADD and LD? What should you do if the school suspends or expels a child who has a disability but has not been found eligible for services and protections under the IDEA?
Kids with Behavior Problems - What Is the School Obligated To Do? School personnel ask "What is our obligation to a student who may be dangerous to us?" Pete provides a comprehensive answer.

Frequently Asked Question about Discipline. Clarifies rules for disciplining children with disabilities; focuses on need to use appropriate behavioral interventions and functional behavior assessments; clarifies 10-day and 45-day removals; weapons and illegal drugs.


Is it Legal to Send Disabled Kids Home Early? Answers to questions about discrimination and how parents can deal with these problems. .

Due Process (see also Procedural Safeguards)

Preparing for a Due Process Hearing. Vermont advocate Brice Palmer advises how to prepare for a hearing or review, focuses on importance of planning and organizing. "If you do not plan and organize the pursuit, you are likely to wind up as road kill."

Due Process Hearing: From Child's Perspective. Read what it is like to go through a due process hearing - from the child's perspective.

Due Process Hearing: From Mom's Perspective. Florida Mom tells about lessons she learned at her hearing.

Anatomy of a Special Education Case. What happens in a special education case?  Read about the case of a young child with autism, from the original due process hearing through the decision from federal court; article includes links to pleadings and decisions. 


Is Child with ADD Eligible for Special Education Services? What do you think? Learn what the law says about eligibility.

The School Says My Child is Not Eligible for Services - What Can I Do?  Your child has a disability but the school says your child is not eligible for special education. What should you do? 


Basics: Emergency! Crisis! Help! Advice for the parent who is in a crisis and wants to do something now! 

Basics: From Emotions to Advocacy: The Parent's Journey. This article describes the gamut of emotions that parents experience; why you must control your emotions; and how to use emotions as a source of energy and strength. 

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

Basics: Should I Allow the School Retain My Child? Advice to a parent's frequently asked questions about retention - generally, it is not a good idea.

To Promote or Retain? Summary of research on retention which shows that retention is not an appropriate intervention for children who have academic delays. 

Retention is Not the Answer. A North Carolina school psychologist writes about retention and social promotions, and his state's policy of retaining children while ignoring research that retention is not an appropriate intervention.

Ending Social Promotion. Most teachers promote children who are unprepared because they "see no alternatives." Neither social promotion nor retention is appropriate for students who do not meet high academic standards. Published by the U. S. Department of

Florence County School District IV v. Shannon Carter: The Untold Story. The inside story of the Carter case from the due process hearing, appeals, to oral argument before the U. S. Supreme Court; includes Pete's information about Pete's educational history. 

Understanding Tests and Measurements for the Parent and Advocate. While you need to understand the law, it is more important that you understand your child's test score and what they mean. #1 article  

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Is IDEA Being Implemented as Congress Intended? Read first-hand observations about Congressional Hearings held in Spring 2001. Why do parents have to go to Court to get the services their children need? Isn't the federal role in education to serve the children, not the system?

IDEA: Core Concepts & Highlights. Describes core concepts and highlights of IDEA; outcomes will improve when schools have high expectations, provide access to general curriculum, strengthen the role of parents, use research-based proven methods of teaching and learning, provide staff with intensive training.

Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)

What is Your IEP IQ? Take this quiz to test your knowledge of IEPs. We will send you the answers by email.

Frequently Asked Questions About IEPs. Answers your questions about how to develop your child's IEP; goals and objectives; the parent's role; how to revise the IEP, and more.

Your Child's IEP: Practical and Legal Guidance for Parents. Requirements about IEPs, parental role in decision-making, educational benefit and progress. 

SMART IEPs. Learn about IEPs that are Specific, Measureable, use Action Words, are Relevant and Realistic, and Time-limited in this sample chapter from Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy - The Special Education Survival Guide. (pdf file)

IEP Goals and Objectives. Article about IEP goals and objectives, objective v. subjective assessment of progress, and tips about how to get good IEP goals and objectives in your child's IEP. 

Using Appendix A as a Tool. Learn how to use Appendix A to answer questions about IEPs, IEP meetings, IEP teams, when the IEP should be revised, the parental role, transition, and other topics.

Is There a Limit to the Number of Goals in the IEP
? Answers to questions about IEP goals and who is responsible for long-term planning. 

How Can I Get My Child's IEP Revised? Can parents ask that the IEP be revised? Answers to questions about when and why to revise IEPs. 

How to Use a Parent IEP Attachment. If you ask for services or supports and the school says "no," use this strategy to clarify the reasons behind their refusal - and they may change their position.

Question & Answer Session About IEPs. Pete answers questions about IEPs, methodology, private tutoring, and extended school year.

More information about IEPs.

Least Restrictive Environment/Inclusion

Isn't Inclusion a Right? Answers to a parent's question about placing children in self-contained classrooms.

Letter Writing & Documentation

The Art of Writing Letters. Teaches you how to use tactics and strategies when you write letters to the school. Learn about the Blame Approach and the Story-Telling Approach; the sympathy factor; first impressions; pitfalls; and the powerful decision-making Stranger. 

12 Rules for Writing Great Letters. If you have a problem with the school or concerns about your child's program, you must document these concerns in writing. This article includes twelve rules for writing letters, along with editing tips. 

Writing the "Letter to the Stranger". The original "Letter to the Stranger" by Janie Bowman and Peter Wright and posted on the CompuServe ADD Forum. This article and other memorabilia from the ADD Forum are permanently archived at the Smithsonian Institute.


School Offered Mediation  - What Should I Do? Mediation is a procedural safeguard under IDEA-97. What do you need to know about mediation? How should you prepare for mediation?

What You Should Know About Mediation. Describes mediation process, includes tips to help parents prepare for mediation.

Seven Steps to Effective Mediation. Excellent article by Diana Santa Maria; stresses preparation; describes mediators' personalities; pitfalls and opportunities.

Parent-School Relations

The Child Has School Problems: Who is to Blame? When you negotiate with the school on your child's behalf, you need to understand school culture and the beliefs and perceptions held by many people who work in schools. 

View from the Top: How Principals View Children with Learning Problems. As school leaders, principals define and shape the "culture" of schools. How do principals view children who have learning problems? 


ADD/ADHD: Developmental, Parenting and Treatment Issues. Typically, children with ADD/ADHD have problems with learning, peer relationships, self-esteem, mood, behavior, and family relationships. This article describes child development from infancy through elementary school and offers suggestions about how to help the child grow up into a healthy adult.

Effective Discipline. Pete answers a grandmother's questions about effective discipline and structure for strong-willed children.

Records, Privacy, Confidentiality

Privacy: Child Suspended, School Refuses to Provide Video. The school suspended a child because of behavior that was documented on a video; now refuses to allow parents to see video, citing privacy issues for other students. What can the parents do?

Confidentiality: Who Should Have a Copy of the IEP? Answers to questions about records and confidentiality.

Reimbursement for Private Placements 

Parents Reimbursed Costs of Private School Tuition. Describes issues in Gerstmyer v. Howard County Schools; parents of child with dyslexia reimbursed for son's tuition at Montessori school. 


"Enemies List" Targets Parents. Describes efforts by the Association of California School Administrators to compile a list of parents and parent groups who were critical of schools or who questioned special education decisions. 

Jury Awards $600,000 to Parents of Handicapped Child. Jury found that school district failed to provide free appropriate public education and retaliated against parents who attempted to advocate for their child.

Retaliation: A Primer (link to The Observer site). Article describes the "Retaliation Triangle" that progresses from Level I of using passive tactics to delay, Level II with the goal of frightening parents, to Level III with overt hostility with the goal of punishing parents.

Section 504 & ADA

Section 504 v. IDEA: Protections and Rights. Is a child eligible for protections under Section 504 or IDEA? What are the differences? Which law offers more benefits?

Can the School Fail a Section 504 Child? Discusses the purposes of Section 504 and limitations for children with disabilities.

Section 504, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Education Reform (prepared by PEER Project). 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 education reform.

Special Education, Misc.

Moving? How to Find a Good School District If you are moving, you may have questions about how to find a good special education program in the new community. Read this article for tips about how to find quality special education programs.

Teacher Rights & Responsibilities

Special Education Teachers Sue Principal. Three special education teachers filed suit against their principal, alleging that he violated their rights to freedom of speech and association by ordering them not to discuss incidents relating to special education students. Article includes links to decisions and pleadings in case.

Teachers Who "Promote ADHD" School psychologist expresses concerns about teachers who "promote" ADHD.

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