At Wrightslaw, our goals are to help you gain the information and skills you need to navigate the confusing world of special education. In this issue, we tackle high stakes testing. As school districts and states come under increased pressure to improve educational results, high stakes testing has emerged as a hot issue.
Highlights: New decision about unilateral graduation, regression and compensatory education; Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates; Evans v. Rhinebeck provides a roadmap to FAPE; learn about FAPE; FAQs about FETA; Pete & Pam travel to SC, MD, ND.
as of March 28 2002: 40,148
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New Case: Unilateral Graduation, FAPE, IEPS, Regression, Compensatory Education
On March 19, U. S. District Court Judge Manning issued a strong decision about FAPE in Kevin T. v. Elmhurst Comm. School District No. 205.
The case involves Kevin T, a 19 year old with a severe learning disability, ADHD, and bipolar disorder. The school district provided Kevin with special education services beginning at age six.
Between 1990 and 1999, Kevin's IQ dropped from 101 to 83. His scores on academic achievement tests decreased significantly between 1993 and 1999. After twelve years of special education, Kevin's reading, math and writing skills were at the 3rd to 5th grade levels.
In this decision, the Court addresses issues that include witness credibility, failure to review and revise IEP goals and objectives, regression of skills, assistive technology, state achievement tests, transition plans, unilateral graduation, and compensatory education as a remedy when a school district fails to provide a FAPE.
Why did the Judge conclude that the school psychologist's testimony was not credible - and the special ed teacher was a credible witness?
Read this article at the Wrightslaw site.
Download the decision from the Wrightslaw site. (in pdf)
Concil of Parent Attorneys & Advocates (COPAA)
Michael O'Connor is the attorney who represented Kevin T. and his parents.
Michael A. O'Connor is an Illinois attorney who represents children with special needs. Like Pete, he is on the Executive Board of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA).
The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) is an independent, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization of attorneys, advocates and parents, whose primary mission is to secure educational services for children with disabilities. COPAA is premised on the belief that the key to effective educational programs for children with disabilities is collaboration as equals by parents and educators.
This is the premise of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, the federal statutes that guarantee children with disabilities a free appropriate public education. COPAA is not an organization that provides individual advocacy or legal representation to children with special needs.
For more info about COPAA visit the website.
For membership information about COPAA, please visit the membership page of the COPAA website.
Evans V. Rhineheck Provides Roadmap to FAPE
What factors make a special education program appropriate? Inappropriate? The decision in Evans v. Rhinebeck provides a roadmap to FAPE.
In Evans v. Rhinebeck, the child's parent asked the court to order reimbursement for her son's education at the Kildonan School. (Kildonan specializes in educating children with severe language learning disabilities like dyslexia.)
The judge concluded that the public school program was NOT appropriate. What factors led him to conclude that the Rhinebeck program was not appropriate for Frank?
Learn about procedural issues and substantive issues, educational benefit, and how to use test scores in Evans v. Rhinebeck: Roadmap to FAPE.
Learning About FAPE
If you have a child with a disability, your child is entitled to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). To answer your questions about FAPE, we built a FAPE page with links to articles, law and regulations, cases, and other information.
Main topics page: http://www.wrightslaw.com/topics.htm
FAQs About FAPE
Q: "How long did it take you to write From Emotions to Advocacy (FETA)?"
A: More than five years. We began writing a comprehensive book about special education law and advocacy in 1996. After an editor reviewed our manuscript, she advised that the manuscript needed major surgery - we had at least three books. While this was not the advice we wanted, we listened and went back to the drawing board.
In 1999, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law was published by Harbor House Law Press. With more than 20,000 copies in print, the law book is now in the sixth printing. The law book is a perennial best-seller at online bookstores like Amazon.com and BN.com.
The law book has been adopted by college and university professors for courses in special education, school psychology, and law.
Our second book, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy is being published this year. This book is available from the Wrightslaw site and online booksellers. FETA is being picked up for distribution by the wholesalers that supply retail bookstores so you should be able to order FETA from your local retail bookstore by May 2002. This book is also being adopted by college professors.
If you have downloaded and read our article, "Understanding Tests & Measurements for the Parent, Advocate and Attorney", you will want to know that Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy includes TWO chapters about tests and measurements and how to use the bell curve to measure progress.
"Because of Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, and the wrightslaw and fetaweb websites, we were able to get our school district to fund a residential special education placement for our daughter."
"We took treats to all meetings, took a pic of our child with us, kept our calm, documented everything in letters, worked the files, and learned the wright buzzwords. It worked. We are very very grateful." - John from Virginia
"From Emotions to Advocacy is the best, most practical, informative, empathetic book on the market. It's amazing and thrilling to be an advocate for 15 years, to read FETA, and feel the thrill of 'Oh, my God! that is so true', and to be able to sharpen my skills." - Fran Dobrowolski, Advocate, New Hampshire
"Pete and Pam Wright have pulled together one of the most important how-to manuals ever written for navigating your way through the morass of special education." Thom Hartmann, author of ADD: A Different Perception
"From Emotions to Advocacy provides clear, practical professional guidance that will empower parents with the necessary skills, tools and knowledge for successfully advocating in their child’s behalf. – Sandra Rief, author of How to Reach and Teach ADD/ADHD Children
More Reviews: http://www.wrightslaw.com/bks/feta/feta.reviews.htm
FETA Info: http://www.wrightslaw.com/bks/feta/feta.htm
Table of Contents: http://www.wrightslaw.com/bks/feta/feta.toc.htm
Chapter One: Learning About Advocacy
Chapter 12: SMART IEPs
Pete & Pam Hit the Road in April - Training in SC, MD, ND
Myra wrote, "I was excited and wanted to attend the SC conference until I saw the date of April 5, 2002. I already made arrangements to be away that week on vacation . . . I hope that in the future you will send in notices further in advance. I could have made plans to attend if I had more notice."
A: Myra, we hope this information will help you plan. In April, we are scheduled to do training programs in Columbia, South Carolina; Montgomery County, Maryland; and Minot, North Dakota. Here are the details:
On April 5 & 6, we will be in Columbia SC for a two-day intensive advocacy training program - Wrightslaw Boot Camp.
On April 13, we do a full day of advocacy training in Montgomery Co, Maryland, just outside of DC (University of Maryland - Shady Grove) on April 13. This training is co sponsored by the LDA of Maryland and the LDA of Montgomery County Maryland (LDAMC).
In May, we will be traveling out west. Some events are pending (which means they are not listed on the schedule page yet). To learn when we will be in your area, please visit our sepaking page.
If you are interested in scheduling a Wrightslaw Training Program, you will want to visit our FAQs page.
Subscription & Contact Info
The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education legal and advocacy issues, cases, tactics and strategy, and Internet resources. Subscribers receive announcements and "alerts" about new cases, events, and special offers on Wrightslaw books.
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