Subj: The Special Ed Advocate, May 7, 2003 (Issue 214) 
Date: 5/7/2003 7:20:45 AM Pacific Standard Time
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The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
May 7, 2003

Issue - 214
ISSN: 1538-3202

In this Issue

IDEA Update & Game Plan

Self-Advocacy: Know Yourself, What You Need, How to Get It

Help for College Kids

Damages, Discrimination & Section 504

Free Pub: Protecting Kids from Harassment

Advocacy Training: FL, VA

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. In this issue, we look at Section 504, discrimination, damages, and IDEA.

Highlights: IDEA update & game plan; self-advocacy - know yourself, what you need, how to get it; help for college kids; damages, discrimination and Section 504; protecting kids from harassment & bullying at school; advocacy training in Florida and Virginia.

Download newsletter in html:

Subscribers on May 6, 2003: 43,496

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!

1. IDEA Update & Game Plan

"What was the outcome on the IDEA Reauthorization vote last week?"

"How can I learn the status of H R 1350? Was it passed? Denied? Rewritten?"

On April 30, 2003, the House of Representatives voted 251-171 to approve H. R. 1350, the Republican bill to reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Despite your calls and letters on National Call in Day, many Representatives said they knew little about H.R. 1350. Hmmm.

Read Pete's letter to our Representative, Joanne Davis


We learned that Representatives received a "Dear Colleague Letter" advising them that they would receive calls on April 29, that the calls were part of a coordinated effort to spread false information about the bill and would include incomplete, misleading, and false info from "opponents of improving the nation's special education law."

What happens next?

In late May, the Senate will introduce their bipartisan bill to reauthorize the IDEA. You need to educate your Senators about special education issues now!

For advice about how to educate Senators and how to frame the debate about IDEA, read "IDEA Update & Game Plan" at -

IDEA Reauthorization Issues & News:

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law -

2. Self-Advocacy: Know Yourself, Know What You Need, Know How to Get It by Nancy Johnson

"Self-advocacy is the ability to understand and effectively communicate one's needs to other individuals. Learning to become an effective self-advocate is all about educating the people around you. There are three steps to becoming an effective self-advocate . . ."

To learn these steps and how you can be an effective self-advocate, read Self-Advocacy: Know Yourself, Know What You Need, Know How to Get It by Nancy Johnson.

Read Nancy Johnson's bio at the end of the article to learn about her struggles, how she resolved problems with a college that did not provide accommodations, and what she is doing now.

Her story will inspire students who are dealing with these issues, and their parents, teachers and advocates.

Learn about advocacy:

3. Help for College Kids- Flyer from Wrightslaw

The transition from high school to college is difficult - and this transition is usually harder for kids with disabilities. Although college students with disabilities are protected from discrimination under Section 504, some professors take a dim view of students who request accommodations.

How can you help your college-bound child make a successful transition to college?

College-bound students need to learn self-advocacy skills - how to present information about their disability and accommodations so professors want to help. If students master these skills, they are more likely to make a successful transition from high school to college.

Resources in our Help for College Students with Disabilities Flyer are divided into three categories:

  • Rights and Responsibilities under Section 504
  • Planning and Preparation
  • Keys to Success

Your Strategy

We suggest that you make two copies of the Help for College Students with Disabilities Flyer - one for your child, one for yourself. After you and your child have reviewed these resources, sit down and discuss what you learned.

More Flyers from Wrightslaw:

4. Damages, Discrimination & Section 504

Many people have questions about damages. Several courts of appeals have ruled that before bringing a damages case under Section 504 and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), parents must first exhaust their administrative remedies under the IDEA.

The U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision about damages under Section 504 and ADA. In Polera v. Bd Ed. Newburgh City Sch. Dist, the court ruled that the disabled child must exhaust her administrative remedies under the IDEA before she can sue for damages under Section 504 and ADA. This decision includes an extensive discussion of relief under the statutes, compensatory and punitive damages, the exhaustion requirement, and the futility exception to exhaustion.

Download the decision in Polera v. BD Ed. Newburgh City School District:

Learn about Section 504:

Learn about discrimination & damages:

5. Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crime: A Guide for Schools

Many children experience sexual, racial and ethnic harassment at school. Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crime provides guidance about protecting students from harassment and violence based on race, color, national origin, sex, and disability.

Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crime was published by the U. S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights and the National Association of Attorneys General and is endorsed by the National School Boards Association.

Topics addressed in this comprehensive, step-by-step manual include:

* Developing the District's Written Anti-Harassment Policy
* Identifying and Responding to Incidents of Harassment
* Formal Complaint / Grievance Procedures
* Creating a School Climate that Supports Racial, Cultural, and other Forms of Diversity
* Addressing Hate Crimes & Conflicts in School and the Community

Advocacy Strategy: If you are advocating for a child who has been harassed or bullied at school, download Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crime from the U. S. Department of Education's site:

Make three copies of Protecting Students - one for you, and two for the school.

Write a letter to the principal and the superintendent. Advise them that the child is being harassed and the facts that support your assertions. Request a copy of the district's written anti-harassment policy. Include a copy of Protecting Students with each letter.

You can also download Protecting Students as an html file:

More Free Publications

Download dozens of free publications about IEPs, special education, transition planning, reading, children's mental health, harassment, high-stakes testing, retention and social promotion, zero tolerance and discipline from our Free Pubs Page:

6. May Advocacy Training: Jacksonville FL & Roanoke, VA

"Before Boot Camp, special ed was occupying every worry cell in my brain. Now that I have a road map, I worry less and accomplish more." - Carolyn from Oklahoma

Knowledge is power. When you have information and skills, you will be a more effective advocate for your child. Our role is to help you gain knowledge so you can negotiate with the school on your child's behalf.

"I have never learned so much useful information at a workshop - thank you for having a heart for kids and the head for the Law." - Susan from Texas

May 16-17 2003 - Jacksonville, FL (Boot Camp)

May 21, 2003 - Roanoke, VA

Wrightslaw training programs focus on four areas: special education laws, rights & responsibilities; how to use the bell curve to measure progress & regression; SMART IEPs; and how to use tactics & strategies for effective advocacy.

"I attended your Boot Camp with two coworkers. We learned SO MUCH in those two days! Your books could not be more helpful to anyone who works with special education students." - Christie from Kansas

For more information about these events and programs that will be held over the next few months, please check our Seminars & Training page.

We are now booking programs for 2004. To learn how you can bring Pete & Pam Wright to your community, please read our FAQs about Seminars.

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. Subscribers receive "alerts" about new cases, events, and special offers on Wrightslaw books.

Law Library -

Advocacy Library -

Free Newsletter -

Newsletter Archives -

Seminars & Training -

Yellow Pages for Kids -

Contact Info

Pete and Pam Wright
Wrightslaw & The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043

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