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While in the second grade, Pete was diagnosed with learning disabilities including dyslexia, dysgraphia and ADHD. He was fortunate - his learning problems were identified early. His parents obtained intensive Orton-Gillingham remediation for him by Diana Hanbury King.
Pete's determination to help children grew out of his own educational experiences.
Pete attended public school in the city limits of Washington, DC from Kindergarten through the eleventh grade at which time he had a "D" average. His focus was on the football field and the boxing ring, where he excelled in both sports. Before his senior year, his parents enrolled him in Moses Brown School located in Providence RI. As a condition of entry, he repeated the eleventh grade. In his senior year, he was co-captain of the football team and was "All New England" in football and track.
He then attended Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, VA.
While attending R-MC, Pete worked in a Juvenile Training School as a houseparent. After graduation with a B.A. degree in Psychology in 1968, he worked in another Juvenile Training School as a counselor and later became a Juvenile Probation Officer in the Juvenile Court system. In 1972, he was honored by the Virginia Juvenile Officer's Association, (now known as VJJA) as Virginia's "Juvenile Probation Officer of the Year."
During that time, Pete also attended evening college in a graduate psychology program at Virginia Commonwealth University where he earned 30 credit hours toward a Master's Degree in Psychology. However, in 1975 Pete shifted his focus and enrolled in law school.
In December, 1977, Pete graduated from T. C. Williams Law School at the University of Richmond with a J.D. degree. After passing the February, 1978 Bar Exam, Pete became licensed to practice law in Virginia in April, 1978. He is a member of the Virginia Bar, in good standing and remains licensed to this date. In 2005, because of his extensive travel and training schedule, he discontinued his law practice.
On October 6, 1993, before the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), Pete provided Oral Argument on behalf of his client, Shannon Carter. Thirty-four days later, the Court issued a unanimous decision for Shannon. See Florence County School District IV v. Shannon Carter, 510 U.S. 7 (1993).
Click here to Florence County v. Shannon Carter.
In 2003, the Richmond Times-Dispatch published an in-depth article about Pete and Pam Wright titled "Paradise at end of the road - Champion of special-ed children still doing good while having more fun."
In 2005, while the SCOTUS, Schaffer v. Weast, special education burden of proof case was pending, the National Council on Disability (NCD) (www.ncd.gov) contracted with Pete Wright to prepare a "Policy Paper" for submission to the Court as a part of their role being the federal agency concerned with national issues regarding disabilities.
The "Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Burden of Proof: On Parents or Schools?" was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on July 25, 2005 and is located on Wrightslaw at: https://www.wrightslaw.com/ncd/wright.burdenproof.pdf.
On January 5, 2017, Pete Wright trained approximately 200 Office of Civil Rights attorneys and staff investigators about the interrelationship between IDEA, Section 504 and ADA. On April 16, 2019 he again provided training to the OCR attorneys and staff about recent disability case law.
Pete is the co-author of Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 3rd Ed. (2023), Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Ed. (2006), Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (2003), Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004, (2005), Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Ed. (2005), Wrightslaw: All About IEPs (2009), Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments, 2nd Ed.(2014), and the Year in Review Series - Wrightslaw: Special Education Legal Developments and Cases.
He appeared as the parent's attorney in in the award-winning DVD video, Surviving Due Process: When Parents and the School Board Disagree - Stephen Jeffers v. School Board (2004).
For three semesters, as Adjunct Faculty, Pete and Pam Wright taught "Special Education Law" at the William & Mary School of Law in order to assist with the creation of their Special Education Law Clinic (PELE Clinic).
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