Date: 11/5/98 7:34:41 PM Pacific Standard Time
From: (Pete and Pam Wright)

The Special Ed Advocate

The Online Newsletter About
Special Education and the Law

November 5, 1998 Vol. 1, No. 16

Visit us today at:


The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special
education legal issues, cases, tactics and strategy, effective
educational methods, and Internet links.

We publish this newsletter occasionally, when time permits. Back issues
of The Special Ed Advocate are archived at our web site -

As a subscriber to The Special Ed Advocate, you will receive
announcements and "alerts" about new cases and other events. Contact,
copyright, and subscription information can be found at the end of this

IN THIS ISSUE: November 5, 1998

(1) NEWS FLASH! U. S. Supreme Court hears Oral Argument in Cedar Rapids
v. Garret (November 4, 1998).

(2) Additions to the Advocate’s Bookstore.

(3) Subscription and Contact Information

(1) NEWS FLASH! U. S. Supreme Court hears Oral Argument in Cedar Rapids
v. Garret F. (November 4, 1998).

When Garret was four, he was severely injured in a motorcycle accident.
His mental abilities were unaffected. His spinal cord injury left him
paralyzed from the neck down. He depends on a ventilator to breathe.

When he attends school, Garret needs occasional nursing services – help
eating and drinking, positioning of his wheelchair, and catheterization.
Garret needs some of these services once or twice a day. For most of the
day, “all he needs is someone within earshot,” says Douglas Oelschaeger,
Garret’s attorney,

On Wednesday, November 4, the Supreme Court debated how much nursing
care schools must provide to children with disabilities. Susan L. Seitz,
attorney for Cedar Rapids School District, argued that the district
should not have to provide (pay) for the child’s care.

“A nurse just for you? Certainly there can be a line drawn there to say
that’s medical” – and the school shouldn’t have to provide (pay) for it,
she claimed.

Some of the Justices expressed frustration with the school district
lawyer’s assertion that the school should not have to pay for Garret’s
care, even if the school does provide some of his health care functions.

“That is a very hard line to draw,” said Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. “I
don’t think that’s going to work. Do you have a fallback position?”

Later, Justice Antonin Scalia told Seitz, “I hate multi-factor tests.
Can you give us any other clearer line?”

Garret’s mother asked the school to pay the cost of providing an
attendant for him. She believes that the district must provide this for
Garret under the Individuals with Disabilities Act. The IDEA provides
that all children with disabilities are to receive a “free appropriate
public education” (FAPE). School districts are required to provide
“special education and related services.”

The federal trial judge and the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth
Circuit ruled for Garret and against the school district. The appeals
court decided that because the care Garret receives is not provided by a
doctor, it is not exempt as a medical service.

We will advise subscribers to the Special Ed Advocate when the Supreme
Court issues their decision in Garret’s case. In the meantime, you can
read the Eighth Circuit decision in our Law Library.

The decision is reported in Volume 25 of the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Law Reporter at page 439, cited as 25 IDELR 439,
and also at 106 F. 3d 822 (8th Cir. 1997).

The decision is also available at the FindLaw web site:


(2) New Additions to the Advocate’s Bookstore

Interested in mediation? Want to find a good guide that will help you
with legal research? Looking for help to make your way through the
“Special Ed Maze?”

Within the last few days, we have added several books to the Law Section
of the Advocate’s Bookstore. Check them out – and let us know your


To subscribe to our newsletter, send an email to -
In the body of the message, insert the following words exactly, with
hyphens, all lowercase -

subscribe special-ed-advocate

You will receive an automatic, computerized confirmation that your
request "has been forwarded to the owner of the 'special-ed-advocate'
list for approval, and that it is a closed list." Within a couple of
days, you will receive a message confirming that you are a subscriber.

To unsubscribe, follow the same procedure. Send an email to

that says

unsubscribe special-ed-advocate
Copyright 1998 Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights

The resources at this site are copyrighted by the authors and/or
publisher. They may be used for non-commercial purposes only. They may
not be redistributed for commercial purposes without the express written
consent of Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. Appropriate credit
should be given to these resources if they are reproduced in any form.

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