The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
April 26, 2005

Issue - 307
ISSN: 1538-3202

In this Issue

1. What Can Parents Ask the School to Do?

2. When Affluent School Districts Choose to Litigate

3. Breaking News! TN Sch Bd Will Appeal and Pursue Settlement

4. Coming Soon! Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004

5. Parent Advocacy - What You Should Do - and Not Do

6. When Parents & Schools Disagree

7. Trust, Expectations, Power Struggles

8. Wrightslaw Programs: NH, IL, MI, HI

9. Subscription & Contact Info

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At Wrightslaw, our goals are to help you gain the information and skills you need to navigate the confusing world of special education.

Highlights: Child not learning, what can parents ask school to do?; affluent school districts choosing to litigate; IDEA 2004 - coming soon; parent advocacy - what you should do and not do; when parents & school disagree; understanding the playing field - trust, expectations, power struggles; Wrightslaw programs in NH, IL, MI, HI; find help on Yellow Pages for Kids.

The Special Ed Advocate newsletter is free - please forward this issue or the subscription link to your friends and colleagues so they can learn about special education law and advocacy too. We appreciate your help!
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1. My Child is Not Learning to Read - What Can I Ask the School to Do?

"My son is 8 years old and in the 2nd grade. He is not learning to read, is failing math, and barely passing his other subjects. The school wants to retain him. An outside evaluator found that he has dyslexia and dysgraphia."

"What can I ask the school to do? How should I handle the retention issue? How can I prepare and make good decisions for my child? The process of getting help is incredibly slow."

In What Can I Ask the School to Do?, Sue Heath offers advice to parents who have questions about what they can ask the school to do. Learn about IEPs, research-based reading programs, retention, how to prepare for meetings, and other thorny issues.

Sue Heath writes Doing Your Homework, a column about creative advocacy strategies. She has written articles about retention, including Exit Exams Can Be Optional If You Plan Ahead and Advice to Special Ed Teacher About Retention.

As the co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind and a member of the Wrightslaw Speakers Bureau, Sue provides seminars and training on No Child Left Behind. Learn more

2. Amid Affluence, a Struggle Over Special Education

In Amid Affluence, a Struggle Over Special Education, Alison Leigh Cowan of The New York Times takes a hard look at the intense, expensive battles between school districts and parents of disabled children.

Cowan begins in Westport, Connecticut where "Parents are likely to be pouring over Gary Mayerson's How to Compromise with Your School District Without Compromising Your Child, or Wrightslaw: Special Education Law by Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright."

She moves on to Hamilton County, Tennessee, "where school officials spent $2.2 million on lawyers and expert witnesses to avoid having to reimburse Maureen and Philip Deal the $60,000 annual cost of providing their autistic son with one-on-one behavioral training." (See also The Inside Story of Zachary Deal v. Hamilton County Board of Education, Part I by Gary Mayerson

Note: After Hamilton County received an adverse decision from the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on December 16, the school board was weighing whether to appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court. The school board said it "welcomes" an audit of school district legal fees. On April 26, the school board announced plans to pursue their appeal while also working toward settlement. (See Breaking News)

Next, Cowan focuses on the Bret Harte Union High School District in Calaveras County, California. That district "fought so hard to block the claims of a student that Judge Oliver W. Wanger took 83 pages to berate the district's 'hard-line position' and its law firm for 'willfully and vexatiously' dragging out the case so long that the student is now 24."

(Note: The judge awarded the student and his attorney sanctions against the Lozano Smith law firm, a former associate at Lozano Smith, and the Bret Harte Union High School District. Lozano Smith was ordered to provide at least six hours of ethics training for all associates. The former associate was ordered to attend 20 hours of ethics training. The judge concluded, "The totality of the sanctioned conduct visits an unendurable burden on the justice system in the name of misguided advocacy.")

Cowan found that parents go to court, leave public schools, or move to other districts in an effort to get special education services for their children. These parents wonder how their lives would be different if the districts simply "spent the money on education, instead of litigation."

Read Amid Affluence, a Struggle Over Special Education (Registration is required to read articles on the NY Times site)

3. Breaking News! School Bd Plans to Appeal Case to Supreme Court - And Work Toward Settlement (April 26, 2005)

On Tuesday morning, April 26, the Hamilton County School Board voted to continue their appeal of the autism lawsuit that has cost them at least $2.3 million so far. (See
Amid Affluence, a Struggle Over Special Education above) The Board also announced that "a committee will be formed to work toward settlement of the case." This committee will seek a meeting with Gary Mayerson, attorney for the Deal family.

In December 2004, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of the Deals and refused to reconsider that ruling. (Read the decision in Zachary Deal v. Hamilton County TN.)

The only appeal remaining is to the United States Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court has already agreed to hear a special education case in Weast v. Brian Schaffer during their next term.

School officials describe this as "a precedent-setting case that would require schools to provide a 'Cadillac' program for special education students" that could cost the county $10 million or more.

Gary Mayerson, attorney for the Deals, disputes this claim. Mr. Mayerson said the case could have been settled and the services provided for the Deal child for less than the schools paid for just one expert witness. He added that no other similar requests have been filed with the schools.

Interestingly, Mrs. Deal learned of the school board's plan to appeal while also pursuing settlement from her local television station.

Read Schools To Appeal Autism Case, But Also Work Toward Settlement from the Chattanoogan website.

4. Coming Soon! Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004

We are working on Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004, a new publication that includes the full text of the reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004), commentary and discussion of the statute, and critical changes from IDEA 97. The format, layout, and statutory explanations are similar to Wrightslaw: Special Education Law.

Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004 will be available before July 1, 2005 when IDEA 2004 goes into effect.

Subscribers to The Special Ed Advocate newsletter will receive advance notice before Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004 is available to the public. Watch your email box - we'll keep you posted.

5. Parent Advocacy: What You Should Do - and Not Do by Leslie Margolis

Good special education services are individualized, intensive and expensive. Schools often balk at providing intensive services.
What can you do?

You must learn to anticipate problems, manage conflict, and avoid crises. If you have a dispute with the school, using tactics and strategies will help you control the outcome.

In What You Should Do - and Not Do, attorney Leslie Margolis has good advice for parents of kids with disabilities. Learn the five things you should do (and four things you should not do) in What You Should Do - and Not Do

More articles about how to effectively advocate.

6. When Parents & Schools Disagree by Ruth Heitin

In When Parents & Schools Disagree, Ruth Heitin, an independent educational consultant, describes common areas of disagreement between parents and schools and offers suggestions and strategies to handle these problems:

Does the student have an educationally-related disability? Does the child's disability have an impact on his/her educational performance?

Does the child require special education services? Are the special education services effective?

Dr. Heitin writes, "I often tell my clients that if my own parents were alive, they would never understand what I do for a living." Read When Parents & Schools Disagree.

If you enjoyed this article, you may want to find an educational consultant, advocate or attorney who represents children with disabilities. Read Help! How to Find an Educational Consultant, Advocate, Attorney.

7. Understanding the Playing Field: Trust, Expectations & Power Struggles by Pat Howey

Understanding the Playing Field: Perspectives & Power Struggles, Pat Howey talks about trust, expectations, power struggles between parents and schools - and how to avoid them. She also describes your parental role and the need to understand different perspectives. Read article.

Pat also wrote What You Need to Know Before Filing a Complaint

Pat and attorney Wayne Steedman provide full-day Wrightslaw Special Education Law & Advocacy Training Programs. These advocacy programs are designed to meet the needs of parents, advocates, educators, attorneys, and health care providers who represent children with disabilities. Pat's bio & schedule
8. Coming Up! Wrightslaw Programs in New Hampshire, Illinois, Michigan, Hawaii

Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Training Programs focus on four areas: special education laws including significant changes in IDEA 2004; how to use the bell curve to measure educational progress & regression; SMART IEPs; and advocacy tactics & strategies.

Manchester, NH: May 6-7, 2005 (Boot Camp)

Springfield, IL - May 13-14, 2005 (Boot Camp)

Oakland Schools, Waterford, MI - May 24, 2005 (Special Education Law & Advocacy Training) - Attorney Wayne Steedman and advocate Pat Howey present a full-day Wrightslaw training program - NEW!

Hilo, HI - July 29, 2005 - LDA Conference (Keynote Speakers & Presenters)

Hilo, HI - July 30-31, 2005 - Boot Camp

Schedule l Programs l Speakers l FAQs

9. Need Help? Visit the Yellow Pages for Kids

If you are looking for help - or a helper - visit the Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities. Your state Yellow Pages has many resources - evaluators, speech language therapists, tutors, special ed schools, advocates, attorneys, organizations, and support groups.

These articles will help:

Working with Independent Evaluators and Educational Consultants

Strategies to Find a Support or Study Group

Help Others: Please print and distribute Flyers for Your State Yellow Pages for Kids.

Free Listings in the Yellow Pages: If you help parents get services for children (i.e., an evaluator, educational consultant, academic tutor, advocate, attorney, special ed school, etc.) or you facilitate a support or study group for parents, submit an application be listed in the Yellow Pages for Kids. Send an email to app@yellowpagesforkids.com for an application. Listings in the Yellow Pages are free.

10. 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 Seminars & Training
Advocacy Yellow Pages for Kids
No Child Left Behind Free Newsletter
IDEA 2004 Newsletter Archives

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

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