The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
February 4, 2003

Issue - 196

ISSN: 1538-3202

In this Issue

In Memoriam: Columbia Crew

Learning About Mediation

Help to Resolve Special Ed Disputes

Learning to Negotiate, Brice Palmer

Play Hearts Not Poker, by Jennifer Bollero

Good Books about Mediation and Negotiation

NCLB: Parents File Class Action Suit Against NY

Parents Guide to NCLB

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In this issue of The Special Ed Advocate, In this issue of The Special Ed Advocate, we look at mediation and negotiation - what mediation can and cannot accomplish, how mediation works, when to request mediation, and mediation pitfalls; learn about a new class action suit under No Child Left Behind; and download the Parent's Guide to No Child Left Behind.

Download online version of this newsletter: https://www.wrightslaw.com/nltr/03/nl.0204.htm

Quote of the Week: "Stay cool under pressure, stand up without provoking opposition, deal with underhanded tactics, and find mutually agreeable options." (To learn who said this, scroll down)

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1. In Memoriam: Columbia Crew

On January 16, we stood on a wide sandy beach in Port Canaveral with Debra Pratt, Dot & George Columbia lift-offFrench, and Sue Heath and watched the Columbia lift-off. The beach was dotted with small groups of people, including other cruise participants.

The emotional impact of a shuttle liftoff is difficult to describe. The aircraft is enveloped in flames and an immense cloud of white vapor during liftoff A huge thunderous roar arrives a few seconds later. The earth seems to move. As spectators, we were incredibly moved as we watched the shuttle tilt and fly out of sight.

We read all we could about the astronauts who lived and trained together for so long. A few hours later, we boarded the Carnival Cruise Lines' "Fantasy" for a three-day special education advocacy cruise to the Bahamas. Memories of the liftoff stayed with us.

When we heard about the disaster on Saturday, we were saddened. Our minds returned to that warm sunny day on the beach with friends and fellow advocates. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those lost.

We offer a prayer and a salute to these brave men and women. Farewell.

2. Learning About Mediation

Parent-school disputes are similar to family disputes - a child is involved, the stakes are high, and emotions run strong. When Congress amended the IDEA, they added mediation as a procedural safeguard to resolve disputes between parents and schools.

You need to learn about the mediation process, what mediation can and cannot accomplish. What is mediation? How does it work? Can it help? Should you request mediation? How are mediators trained? Are mediators really impartial? If you understand how the mediation process works, you will have a better chance of using mediation successfully.

Visit the Mediation Page for articles, tactics & strategies, and resources:


3. How To Resolve Special Ed Disputes - Negotiate, Mediate, Litigate

Why do parents and school personnel disagree? Why can't parents and school people get along? Pete and Pam Wright explain why conflict between parents and school personnel is normal -- and why you need to learn to negotiate.

While parents want the "best" services for their children, school officials are only required to provide "appropriate" services -- and balance their budgets. Learn the pros and cons of negotiation, mediation, and litigation in "How to Resolve Special Ed Disputes:"


4. Learning To Negotiate By Brice Palmer

Vermont advocate Brice Palmer describes role of negotiating in advocacy; describes important rules; and offers excellent tactics and techniques.
Read, "Learning to Negotiate is Part of the Advocacy Process" at:


5. Play Hearts, Not Poker By Jennifer Bollero, Esq.

Learn why mediation seems to be a game of poker, but is actually a game of hearts. In "Play Hearts, Not Poker," Jennifer Bollero writes from the perspective of an attorney who is also the parent of a child with autism.

Ms. Bollero teaches parents how to negotiate better IEPs for their children and offers insights and practice tips for attorneys and paralegal advocates who represent parents and children with disabilities. This article includes "Eight Steps to Better IEP Meetings."


Visit the IEP page for more articles and resources about IEPs and IEP meetings:


6. Good Books About Mediation & Negotiation

Quote of the Week: "Stay cool under pressure, stand up without provoking opposition, deal with underhanded tactics, and find mutually agreeable options." (by Roger Fisher and William Ury in "Getting to Yes")

We recommend these books for all members of IEP teams, and especially for parents who need to learn how to negotiate with the school.

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy by Pam & Pete Wright

In From Emotions to Advocacy" . . . you learn how to negotiate while building a strong family-school relationship. While it is natural to feel stressed at school meetings, you can keep things moving if you use appropriate strategies. You learn what to watch out for, how to handle conflicts, complaints and difficult personalities. You learn to spot a problem before it becomes a major one with advice you can use again and again."

Learn About the FETA book: https://www.wrightslaw.com/bks/feta/feta.htm

Order: https://www.wrightslaw.com/store/index.html

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury

Based on research from the Harvard Negotiation Project, the book "Getting to Yes" teaches you how to negotiate "win-win" solutions to disputes. "Getting to Yes" provides concise, systematic, strategies that will help you develop fair agreements in all kinds of conflict.


Getting It Done: How to Lead When You're Not in Charge by Roger Fisher and Alan Sharp

In "Getting It Done", you learn how one person can help the group formulate a clear vision of results, suggest a course of action, and learn from experiences. You'll also learn how to ask questions, offer ideas, and make suggestions that will be heard - how to influence the actions of others by your own behavior.


Getting Past No: Negotiating Your Way from Confrontation to Cooperation by William Ury

While "Getting to Yes" teaches the basics of negotiation, "Getting Past No" focuses on what to do when negotiations break down due to deceit, confusion, or plain bad behavior; includes good strategies to use in dealing with others' tactics, tricks, and attacks.


"Getting Past No" provides a roadmap to the land of "Don't get mad, don't get even, get what you want!"

For more good books about mediation and negotiation, please visit the Advocate's Bookstore:


7. NCLB: Parents File Class Action Suit Against NYC

The New York Post reports that two New York City parents filed a class-action lawsuit against School Chancellor Joel Klein, claiming that they were denied the right to transfer their children out of failing schools or obtain tutoring services under the No Child Left Behind Act.

The suit, filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, alleges that the city:

  • Rejected transfer requests by parents with children in failing schools.
  • Has a faulty process to accommodate transfers.
  • Failed to provide timely information to numerous parents on the right to transfer their children to better schools.
  • Failed to notify parents of the right for tutoring services

Full text of article: https://www.wrightslaw.com/news/2003/nclb.ny.class.action.htm

Get more special ed news: https://www.wrightslaw.com/news.htm

8. Parent's Guide To No Child Left Behind

When President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law, he gave this advice to parents: "As parents, you are your children's first teachers and their strongest advocates. You have a critical role to play - both in how you raise your children and in how you work for meaningful and accurate accountability in their schools."

Only 32% of fourth graders are proficient readers who read at a fourth grade level. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) emphasizes accountability and teaching methods that work, especially in the area of reading.

In "A Parent's Guide to No Child Left Behind," you learn about new requirements for teachers and paraprofessionals, school and school district report cards, annual testing in math and reading. You also learn about new options for parents including transfers from failing schools and free supplemental services - tutoring, after-school programs and summer school.


Download and distribute the printer-friendly version of "A Parent's Guide to No Child Left Behind" at school meetings and newsletters:


To learn more about No Child Left Behind - read articles, news, legal & advocacy resources, and download free pubs, fact sheets and brochures, go to:


9. Subscribe & Contact Info.

The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education legal and advocacy issues, cases, and tactics and strategies. Subscribers receive "alerts" about new cases, events, and special offers on Wrightslaw books.

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Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities: http://www.fetaweb.com/help/states.htm

Contact Information

Pete and Pam Wright
Wrightslaw & The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043
Website: https://www.wrightslaw.com
Email: newsletters@wrightslaw.com

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