Supreme Court Rules on Parent Rights;
Atlanta Appeals Jarron Draper's Case;
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May 22, 2007

ISSN: 1538-3202

Issue: 391
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Copyright 2007, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved. Please do NOT reprint or host on your website without explicit permission.

In this issue of The Special Ed Advocate, you will learn about the new unanimous pro-parent, pro-child decision issued yesterday by the U. S. Supreme Court.

We'll give you an update on the Jarron Draper v. Atlanta Public Schools case - and a link to a video that will give you a rare look inside that public school system.

Learn how you can save from $10 to $25 on Wrightslaw combos in our Spring into Summer Sale.

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In This Issue:
Supreme Court Rules: "Parents Have Independent, Enforceable Rights"
Decision in Jacob Winkelman v. Parma City School District (No. 05-983)
Save $10 to $25 on Wrightslaw Books in Our Spring into Summer Sale
Atlanta Public Schools Appeals Decision in Jarron Draper Case
Recommended Video: School System Misdiagnosed Boy As "Retarded"
Wrightslaw Special Education Law & Advocacy Training

Supreme Court Rules: "Parents Have Independent, Enforceable Rights"

On May 21, the the Supreme Court issued a unanimous pro-parent, pro-child decision in Jacob Winkelman v. Parma City Schools.

The question before the Court was "whether parents, either on their own behalf or as representatives of the child, may proceed in court unrepresented by counsel though they are not trained or licensed as attorneys."Sandee, Jeff and Jacob Winkelman leaving court

In Supreme Court Rules, you learn how the Winkelman decision goes far beyond the question presented about whether parents can represent their children in court. The Court provides a comprehensive list of parental rights from the IDEA statute. They affirmed parental involvement and the role parents play in ensuring that their child receives a free appropriate education.

Supreme Court Rules describes the process the Court used in deciding to issue a unanimous ruling in the parents' and child's favor. In Supreme Court Rules, Pete and Pam explain why they view the Winkelman decision as a stunner -- and the best decision from the Court since 1993. You'll also learn why Pete thinks the pendulum is beginning to swing.

Will the Cleveland Bar Association Apologize and Make Amends?

Many readers will remember that the Cleveland Bar Association launched an investigation into whether parents, including Jacob Winkelman's parents, were engaged in the unauthorized practice of law when they represented their children's rights under IDEA. Parents were threatened with fines of up to $10,000 for each incident, and the costs incurred by the Bar for investigating them. (Source: Bar Association Battles Parents by Patrick O'Donnell, Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 27, 2006)

Given this unanimous decision from the Supreme Court, we are waiting to hear that the Cleveland Bar Association has issued a sincere apology to Jeff and Sandee Winkelman.

Since the Cleveland Bar Association has active pro bono and public service programs, we await news that the CBA has established a pro bono legal program to help parents of children with disabilities resolve disputes with their schools.

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Jacob Winkelman v. Parma City School District (No. 05-983)

When you read the Supreme Court's unanimous decision in Jacob Winkelman v. Parma City Schools, you'll understand how the Court analyzed the IDEA statute and concluded that parents have "independent, enforceable rights under IDEA."

If you read between the lines, you'll see that the Justices felt sympathetic to "Mr. and Mrs. Winkelman, parents of five children, [who] became involved in lengthy administrative and legal proceedings ... related to concerns they had over whether their youngest child, 6-year-old Jacob, would progress ..."

You'll learn why the Court was concerned about the "potential for injustice" if the Court of Appeals ruling was allow to stand.

Decision in html:

Decision in pdf:

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Atlanta Public Schools Appeals Decision in Jarron Draper Case

In March 2007, a federal judge ruled that the Atlanta Public Schools misdiagnosed Jarron, a student with dyslexia, as having an "intellectual disability." The school refused to evaluate him after his family requested an evaluation, and failed to re-evaluate him for five years.

Jarron Draper at a table studyingAfter a dozen years in Atlanta Public Schools, J.D.'s reading, spelling and math skills remained at the 2nd to 3rd grade level. The Judge ordered the school system to pay for four years of compensatory education at a private special education school.

On May 18, Atlanta Public Schools appealed his decision to the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

When you read Jarron's story in A Lesser Spirit Would Have Been Crushed Long Ago and the decision in Jarron Draper v. Atlanta Independent School System (N.D. GA 2007), you wonder how many more African-American youngsters are in the same sinking boat.

Sadly, this is old news. In 2004, Congress found that "African-American children are identified as having mental retardation and emotional disturbance at rates greater than their white counterparts" and that school place "disproportionately high numbers of their minority students into special education." Section 1400(c)(12) (Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, page 47-48)

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Recommended Video: School Misdiagnoses Boy As "Retarded"

After Jarron Draper and his family waived his right to privacy, an Atlanta television station gave viewers a rare look inside the school system. The view is chilling.

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Wrightslaw Special Education Law & Advocacy Training

Wrightslaw special education law and advocacy training programs are designed to meet the needs of parents, advocates, attorneys, educators, health care providers, and others who represent the interests of children with disabilities and their families. Pete at a Boot Camp in OKC

Wrightslaw Special Ed Law & Advocacy Training (one day; 6 hours)

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If you are interested in attending a program, please check the schedule to see where Wrightslaw programs are being held.

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