The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
August 7, 2003

Issue -
ISSN: 1538-3202
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In this Issue . . .

Pam has surgery, Pete collects tools

Paradise at end of road - Champion of children doing good, having fun

Four Wonderful Things in NCLB

IDEA Update - IDEA 2004?

Put Wrightslaw Training on Your To-Do List

New Decision from 4th Circuit - SOL

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Summer is a great time for needed vacations. Summer is also time to prepare for the whirlwind of activities when school starts in the fall.

Highlights: Pam has surgery, Pete collects surgical tools; champion of special-ed children doing good, having fun; four wonderful things in NCLB - reading, essential components of reading instruction, scientifically based research, diagnostic reading assessments; IDEA Update - IDEA 2004?; put Wrightslaw advocacy training on your "to-do" list; new decision from 4th Circuit; free shipping on Wrightslaw books.

1. Pam has surgery, Pete collects surgical tools

"Pete, put those tools down - now! No! You are NOT going to remove my stitches - they will dissolve on their own."

Fourteen days ago, Pam had back surgery - a lumbar discectomy/decompression and lumbar fusion with bone grafts - no fun!

The next day, after Pam's surgeon put in a few more stitches, Pete asked for the surgical tools before the doctor threw them in the trash. Worse, Pete scavenged another set of tools on the following day when the doctor decided Pam needed more stitches before going home. Ouch!

After Pam's surgery, Pete sent this progress report to family and friends:

"She has some high tech titanium nuts, bolts, screws, etc in her back that will set off metal detectors in airports.

"We are experimenting with the pain meds. Finding the right mix, swallowed with a fifth of rum a day, is not easy. She keeps sending me back up to the ABC Store."

From Pam: It's not true about the rum (and the family knew it). Sometimes Pete makes up stories for dramatic effect.

Then, on Sunday, something happened that took Pam's pain away.

2. Paradise at end of the road - Champion of special-ed children still doing good while having more fun

"Ten years ago, Pete Wright stood at the pinnacle of the legal profession.

"Now, he stands at the end of the road.

"And he can't imagine a better place to be."

Three weeks ago, Bill Lohmann visited Pete and Pam at their home in Deltaville, Virginia. (Yes, Deltaville is on the map!) Bill is observant, perceptive, and an incredibly talented writer (some say genius) with the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Bill spent a day with us, observing, asking questions. He hopped aboard our 13-foot Laser sailboat with Pete for the first sail of his life.

It was blowing 20 knots.

Bill did research. "Just last month, The New York Times, in an editorial, called Wright '"a warrior for children."'

He talked to people who know us, friends like Ron David, a Richmond pediatric neurologist.

"Special-needs children don't vote. Pete - and we have to include Pam -are almost single-handedly the great equalizers in championing the cause of these children."

He talked to Kathleen Mehfoud, counsel for school boards in Virginia. "Pete and I have mutual respect for each other," said Mehfoud, who has been battling Wright in court for about 25 years.

Then Bill wrote a moving essay about Pete and Pam. Here are some highlights:

"It was 10 years ago this October that Wright, a Richmond attorney with butterflies and a solid case, stood before the U.S. Supreme Court and argued on behalf of a South Carolina special-education student."

"Take a fast-talking, hyperactive, former football player with a photographic memory and a passion for his work and the challenge is formidable. He's a little on the relentless side."

"He fights for children and sails for himself. It's a nice life. Not bad for a man who struggled through school, like the kids he helps, with learning disabilities."

Bill described "Pete and Pam Wright's slice of paradise" at the end of the road. "The road? Route 33, which comes all the way across Virginia and dead-ends into the bay a short sunrise stroll from their new home."

Bill Lohmann's article appeared on Sunday, August 3 in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Pam's pain vanished as she read this beautiful essay.

Is Pete Wright the enemy of public school systems? Read the article and draw your own conclusions.

Here are links to Paradise at the End of the Road:



If you want to comment on "Paradise at the end of the road", we know Bill Lohmann would like to hear from you. You will find his email address is at the end of the article.

Making Progress, Measuring Progress

Since Pam's doctor said, "You can walk as much as you want," she started walking. Every day, she added a half-mile. Now she is walking three miles a day (as measured by Pete's GPS, of course) and can get away from Pete when he brandishes his new surgical tools.

3. Four Great Things About Reading in the No Child Left Behind Act

We are excited about the No Child Left Behind Act. Here are four legal definitions about reading in the law. Pete has used these definitions successfully in several cases.

1. Legal definition of reading

The term 'reading' means a complex system of deriving meaning from print that requires all of the following:

(A) The skills and knowledge to understand how phonemes, or speech sounds, are connected to print.
(B) The ability to decode unfamiliar words.
(C) The ability to read fluently.
(D) Sufficient background information and vocabulary to foster reading comprehension.
(E) The development of appropriate active strategies to construct meaning from print.
(F) The development and maintenance of a motivation to read.

2. Legal definition of the essential components of reading instruction

The term 'essential components of reading instruction' means explicit and systematic instruction in-

(A) phonemic awareness;
(B) phonics;
(C) vocabulary development;
(D) reading fluency, including oral reading skills; and
(E) reading comprehension strategies.
3. Legal definition of scientifically based reading research

The term 'scientifically based reading research' means research that-

(A) applies rigorous, systematic, and objective procedures to obtain valid knowledge relevant to reading development, reading instruction, and reading difficulties;
(B) includes research that-
(i) employs systematic, empirical methods that draw on observation or experiment;
(ii) involves rigorous data analyses that are adequate to test the stated hypotheses and justify the general conclusions drawn;
(iii) relies on measurements or observational methods that provide valid data across evaluators and observers and across multiple measurements and
observations; and
(iv) has been accepted by a peer-reviewed journal or approved by a panel of independent experts through a comparably rigorous, objective, and scientific review.

4. Legal definition of a diagnostic reading assessment

The term 'diagnostic reading assessment' means an assessment that is-

(i) valid, reliable, and based on scientifically based reading research; and
(ii) used for the purpose of-
(I) identifying a child's specific areas of strengths and weaknesses so that the child has learned to read by the end of grade 3;
(II) determining any difficulties that a child may have in learning to read and the potential cause of such difficulties; and
(III) helping to determine possible reading intervention strategies and related special needs.

Some parents say, "My child receives special ed services so No Child Left Behind doesn't apply to him."

Yes, it does!

No Child Left Behind requires schools to meet the educational needs of children who are often "left behind" --English language learners, low income kids, minority kids, homeless kids - and yes, children with disabilities.

Schools that receive Title I funds must publicly report their progress educating all children and specific groups of children to parents and the public.

Most children with disabilities have weaknesses in reading. Read the "essential components of reading instruction." Does your child's reading program pass muster? Has the school given your child a diagnostic reading assessment? What did this assessment show?

Read 4 Great Things About Reading in NCLB

FAQs About Reading & NCLB: https://www.wrightslaw.com/nclb/faqs/reading.htm

FAQs About NCLB: https://www.wrightslaw.com/nclb/faqs.htm

More about NCLB: https://www.wrightslaw.com/nclb/index.htm

Our new book, Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind, will be published in Fall 2003. Subscribers will receive an email alert about a special pre-publication offer when the book goes off to the printer.

Learn more about Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind - and check out that cover! https://www.wrightslaw.com/bks/nclb/nclb.htm

4. IDEA Update - IDEA 2004?

Many people have written to request a progress report about IDEA reauthorization.

Since our last update in the May 29 newsletter, the Senate HELP Committee passed their version to amend IDEA. The Senate version is very different from HR 1350. However, the full Senate has not voted on the bill.

Congress is on vacation in August so there will be no action until mid-September at the earliest.

We have heard rumors that some Senators are trying to protect IDEA by keeping the bill in committee. We have also heard rumors that President Bush does not want IDEA reauthorized this year- he wants the U. S. Department of Education to focus their energies on implementing No Child Left Behind.

Will Congress reauthorize IDEA this year? We don't know. We will keep you posted when there is news to share.

Stay current about changes and proposed changes to IDEA. Visit IDEA Reauthorization Issues & News: https://www.wrightslaw.com/news/idea2002.htm

5. Put Wrightslaw Advocacy Training on Your To-Do List

Wrightslaw training programs focus on four areas: special education laws, rights & responsibilities; how to use the bell curve to measure progress & regression; SMART IEPs; and tactics & strategies for effective advocacy.

August 25-26: Wichita KS (Boot Camp)

September 20: Pittsburgh PA

September 23: Annandale VA (Northern Virginia/DC area)

September 26: Charlotte NC

November 7-8: Jackson MS (Boot Camp)

November 15: Syracuse NY

To learn about other Wrightslaw training programs scheduled for the 2003-2004 year, please check our Seminars & Training page: https://www.wrightslaw.com/speak/index.htm

About ten percent of attendees at our conferences come from other states, often traveling hundreds of miles to learn. Just a thought.

If you want to learn how to bring Pete & Pam to your community, please read our FAQs about Seminars: https://www.wrightslaw.com/speak/faqs.htm

"Pam, did you see that new decision? The Fourth Circuit established a two year statute of limitations to request a due process hearing in Virginia."

6. New Decision from 4th Circuit - 2 Year Statute of Limitations

In R.R. v. Fairfax County School Bd., the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Court held that:

(1) the school district has no obligation to inform parents of the statute of limitations and
(2) the SOL begins to run when the parent knew of the injury or event that formed the basis of the claim, which, here meant the day the IEP was rejected or the child was withdrawn.

The case involved the statute of limitations in Virginia, which has a 2 year statute of limitations, and the court of appeals ruled that this was a different situation than states with very short SoLs where notice may be necessary.


Caselaw Library: https://www.wrightslaw.com/caselaw.htm

7. Save $$ - Free Shipping

Our publisher is offering FREE SHIPPING on all books, so you save at least $4.95 per order.

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law (with or without CD-ROM) by Pete and Pam Wright

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy by Pam and Pete Wright

Writing Measurable IEP Goals and Objectives by Barbara Bateman and Cynthia Herr

Why Johnny Doesn't Behave by Barbara Bateman and Annemieke Golly

To place an order in the Wrightslaw store, go to https://www.wrightslaw.com/store/index.html

To order by Mail, Fax and Phone, go to https://www.wrightslaw.com/bks/orderform.htm

8. Subscription & 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.

Law Library - https://www.wrightslaw.com/law.htm

Advocacy Library - https://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc.htm

Free Newsletter - https://www.wrightslaw.com/subscribe.htm

Newsletter Archives - https://www.wrightslaw.com/archives.htm

Seminars & Training - https://www.wrightslaw.com/speak/index.htm

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

Contact Info

Pete and Pam Wright
Wrightslaw & The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 10s08
Deltaville, VA 23043
Website: https://www.wrightslaw.com
Email: newsletter@wrightslaw.com

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