Date: April 4, 2006
Issue: 347
ISSN: 1538-3202

In this Issue

1. Special Issue: Advice from Members of the Council of Parent Attorneys & Advocates (COPAA)

2. Gary Mayerson & Deal v. Hamilton County TN

3. Expert Witnesses, Paper Trails, Trial Preparation, Due Process Hearing, Attorneys' Fees

4. Rowley, FAPE and High-Stakes Testing

5. IDEA 2004, NCLB, 2005 Tax Issues

6. Coming Soon! Wrightslaw Programs in PA, OH, MA, NY, DE

7. Subscribe & Contact Info

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At Wrightslaw, our mission is to help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to navigate the confusing, changing world of special education.

Do you have a friend or co-worker who needs to learn how to advocate for a child with a disability? Please
forward this issue or the subscription link to your friend or colleague so they can learn about special education law and advocacy too.

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Subscribers on April 4, 2006: 47,483

1. Special Issue: Council of Parent Attorneys & Advocates

Hundreds of attorneys, advocates and parents gathered in Phoenix from March 30 to April 2 for the annual conference of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). When we returned home from this informative and inspiring conference, we decided to share some highlights of the conference and organization with you.

This issue of The Special Ed Advocate includes articles by attorney members of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates. In next week's issue, we will focus on articles by special education advocates who are members of COPAA.

If you are interested in special education law and advocacy, consider joining the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). Member Benefits

2. Gary Mayerson and Deal v. Hamilton County

Gary Mayerson, the attorney who represented the parents and child in Zachary Deal v. Hamilton County, gave the Keynote Address. He described high and low points in the Deal case which is regarded as one of the most important special education decisions in recent years.

A low point involved the school board's willingness to spend more than 3 million dollars on attorneys fees to fight the parents of a young child with autism. Read The Inside Story of Zachary Deal, Part I and Update on the Zachary Deal Case (1/4/05) At the same time,

In Deal v. Hamilton County TN
, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found numerous violations of IDEA by Hamilton County:

* Predetermined child's placement - The school district pre-decided not to offer intensive ABA services, regardless of overwhelming evidence about the child's needs and the effectiveness of the ABA program.

* Failed to include a regular education teacher in IEP meetings

* Denied FAPE - The school district's "eclectic" program "provided little or no chance of self-sufficiency for an autistic child while, under the Lovaas approach, self-sufficiency is a real possibility."

The Court found that "While schools are not required to 'maximize' a child's potential, there is a point at which the difference in outcomes between two methods can be so great that provision of the lesser program could amount to denial of a FAPE."

Read the excellent decision in Zachary Deal v. Hamilton County Bd of Ed (TN) - https://www.wrightslaw.com/law/caselaw/04/6th.deal.hamilton.tn.htm

Articles about legal fees charged to Hamilton County:

County Schools Have Spent a Fortune on Autism Case - and Lost (Letter to the Editor, 3/3/05)

Atlanta Law Firm Charges To County Schools Top $1.7 Million (3/14/05)

Experts, Plane Trips, Fine Hotels Pile Up Legal Tab For County Schools - Financially-Strapped Schools Billed For Luxury Hotel Stays (3/19/05)

Attorney Says County Schools Would Be Embarrassed If Autism Case Gets To High Court (5/1/05)

Gary Mayerson is the author of How to Compromise with Your School District without Compromising Your Child, a book that teaches parents how educational bureaucracies work - and don't work - for children with special needs.

More special education caselaw.

3. Due Process Hearings, Expert Witnesses, Paper Trails, Trial Preparation, Attorneys' Fees

COPAA members are generous contributers of articles to Wrightslaw and The Beacon: Journal of Special Education Law and Practice published by Harbor House Law Press.

Here are a few articles by attorney members of COPAA:

How to Put on a Special Education Case by Sonja Kerr, Esq. "I’ve found this area of the law to be intellectually challenging, emotionally charged and basically, a great deal of fun! Here are three tips." Read article

Factors to Consider When Selecting an Expert by Rosemary Palmer, Esq.
"Although evaluators and their reports are essential to successful advocacy, evaluators are rarely selected with the goal of making advocacy and/or litigation more effective, easier, or less costly." Read article

Paper Trails: Documents, Exhibit Lists and Due Process Hearings by Pete Wright, Esq. "Most parents, advocates and attorneys view organizing and maintaining documents as overwhelming. In this article, I discuss the document management system I developed and how to implement this system." Read article

The Choreography of Trial Preparation by Barbara J. Ebenstein, Esq. "Trial preparation is like a choreography in that it is a deliberate arrangement of elements to convey a concept and tell a story from a particular point of view." Read article

New School District Attorneys' Fees Provision Under IDEA 2004 by Jess Butler, Esq. "IDEA 2004 allows school districts to seek attorneys' fees from parents or their attorneys if the parent’s due process action or court case is 'frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation,' or if the parents acted with an 'improper purpose' in filing their complaint." Read article

More articles about special education litigation topics .

4. Rowley, FAPE and High-Stakes Testing

Re-examing Rowley: A New Focus in Special Education Law - Attorney Scott Johnson argues that the "some educational benefit" standard in Rowley no longer reflects the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, that state standards and educational adequacy requirements provide the substantive requirements of FAPE, and that these standards exceed the "some educational benefit" benchmark. Read article

High-Stakes Testing: Educational Barometer for Success, or False Prognosticator for Failure by Torin D. Togut, Esq. Legal challenges to high-stakes tests are the leading edge of litigation in the education of children with and without disabilities. Learn about competency testing, grade retention and social promotion, accommodations and modifications, risks of high-stakes testing, and past and present legal challenges to high-stakes testing. Read article

Read more practical and scholarly articles in the The Beacon: Journal of Special Education Law and Practice.

5. IDEA 2004, NCLB and 2005 Tax Issues

Attorney members of COPAA have practical advice too.

10 Tips: How to Use IDEA 2004 and NCLB to Improve Your Child's Special Education

by Wayne Steedman, Esq. In this article, "you will learn how to use IDEA 2004 and the No Child Left Behind Act to meet the needs of children with disabilities, while also improving educational outcomes and results." Read article

Year 2005 Tax Benefits for Parents of Children with Disabilities by Michael A. O'Connor, Esq. "If you have a child with a severe disability - a learning disability (SLD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), AD/HD, or other physical, mental or emotional impairment - you may qualify for valuable tax benefits." Read article

Read more articles about special education law and advocacy.

6. Coming Soon! Wrightslaw Programs in PA, OH, MA, NY, DE

If you want to attend a Wrightslaw Special Education Law & Advocacy Training Program before the 2005-2006 school year ends, you need act now. The last Boot Camp for this school year is in Lancaster PA on April 7-8!

April 7-8: Lancaster, PA
- Special Ed Law & Advocacy BOOT CAMP
Speakers: Pete Wright & Pam Wright.     Register Online.
Download the Conference Brochure & Registration Form

Please contact Amy Koring at 717-431-9600 or by email at amkoring@ptd.net.

May 11: Springfield, MA - Special Education Law & Advocacy Training.

May 17: Rochester, NY - Special Ed Law & Advocacy Training.

June 7: Wilkes-Barre, PA - From Emotions to Advocacy Training sponsored by Supporting Autism and Families Everywhere (SAFE). Speaker: Pat Howey, advocate and author of Ask the Advocate articles. Details soon.

June 14: Rehobeth, DE - Special Ed Law & Advocacy Training sponsored by The Arc of Delaware ~ Parent Mentor Program. Speakers: Pete Wright & Pam Wright. Details soon.

2006 Schedule l Wrightslaw Programs

7. Subscription & Contact Info

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

Contact Info

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