Subj: THE SPECIAL ED ADVOCATE, VOL. 1, NO. 10 (August 18, 1998)
Date: 8/18/98 12:04:41 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: (Pete+Pam Wright)

The Special Ed Advocate

The Online Newsletter About
Special Education and the Law

August 18, 1998 Vol. 1, No. 10

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. You can read
back issues of The Special Ed Advocate 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 is listed at the end of this

IN THIS ISSUE: August 18, 1998

(1.) ANNOUNCEMENT: The Special Ed Advocate Bookstore is Coming . . .

(2.) OUR NEXT GUEST: Mary Jane White, Attorney for Daniel Asbury

(3.) MEDIATION: Minnesota Attorney Sonja Kerr and Pete Wright Share

(4.) PROGRESS REPORT: “The I.D.E.A. Book: The Special Education Law and
How to Use It”

(5.) UPDATE: The “Understanding Special Education Series” Continues on

(6) AOL Speaker Series: Evaluations: What Parents Need to Know About
Tests and Measurements




(1) ANNOUNCEMENT: The Special Ed Advocate Bookstore is Coming . . . Soon

Learning to be an advocate takes time and hard work. Here is the advice
we give to parents: For one year, go on an intensive program of
self-study. Immerse yourself in these areas:

1. Learning about the disability and how it affects the child;

2. Learning what needs to be done educationally to help the child (i.e.
tutoring, remediation, assistive technology);

3. Learning about tests and evaluations;

4. Learning how to use statistics to measure educational progress;

5. Learning about your legal rights and responsibilities;

6. Learning how to negotiate;

7. Learning how to persuade - to make your case, clearly and

As we worked on the website, we compiled a list of recommended books and
resources. Then, we decided to build a Special Ed Advocate Bookstore. In
the new Special Ed Advocate Bookstore, you’ll be able to find most of
the books we recommend at conferences and training sessions. After we
researched fulfillment and security, we decided to associate with, “the world’s largest bookstore.”

2. OUR NEXT GUEST: Mary Jane White, Attorney for Daniel Asbury

Subscribers to The Special Ed Advocate know about the $133,000.00
settlement in the Asbury ABA/DT/Lovaas case. Mary Jane White and Ken
Chackes represented Daniel Asbury and his parents.

To refresh your memory, Daniel Asbury is a six-year-old child with
autism. His school district placed him in one of their class-based
preschool programs. After two years in this class-based preschool
program, Daniel had made just two months of progress.

Daniel’s parents withdrew him from the preschool program and began an
intensive program of ABA/discrete trial/Lovaas therapy. In this program,
Daniel received 40 hours of 1:1 therapy a week. In less than one year,
his skills had improved dramatically. Just before the due process
hearing, the school district agreed to settle his case for $133,000,
including damages and attorneys fees.

Mary Jane White and Ken Chackes argued that the IDEA requires school
districts to use “effective practices” and “proven methods of teaching
and learning for children with disabilities.” (From Congressional
Findings, IDEA 97)

Despite this requirement, school districts around the country continue
to place very young autistic children in self-contained “class-based”
preschool programs. There is no objective evidence that the typical
class-based preschool program works for children with autism.

States are responsible for ensuring that local school districts use
educational programs that work - effective programs that are based on
replicable research. After settling their case with the local district,
Daniel’s parents filed a lawsuit against the state of Missouri for
failing to ensure that local school districts “use proven methods of
teaching and learning” for young autistic children.

This weekend, Mary Jane White and her son visited us in Deltaville. Mary
Jane provided us with a comprehensive list of resources that she uses in
her cases. Over the next few several weeks, as time permits, we will add
this information to our website.

You can read about the Asbury case at:


Minnesota Attorney Sonja Kerr and Pete Discussed Some Concerns About

Sonja: Say, I saw your note about mediation - I have some concerns. Do
you see school lawyers trying to use mediation as a discovery tool?

Here in Minnesota, one of the school lawyers publicly announced that
this is one purpose of mediation. After hearing this, we are gun-shy
about having our parents go to mediation without an attorney. When
parents go to mediation alone, I try to have a good session with them
first. This way, they are very clear about the purpose of mediation and
what they can and cannot prevail on through mediation.

Pete: As you know, confidentiality is crucial to the success of
mediation. Discussions and admissions by the parties must be
confidential. Without this confidentiality, the real purpose of
mediation would be to gain tactical advantage in subsequent litigation.

Most parents don’t realize that in law, settlement discussions are
usually confidential. If the case is not settled, information from
settlement discussions may not be used or disclosed in a subsequent

If lawyers try to use confidential information obtained in mediation or
in settlement discussions, this could lead to very adverse consequences
if the case ends up in Court.

Sonja: Some advocates are getting nervous about mediation too. These
advocates accompanied parents to mediation. The school district is
bringing their lawyers. At that point, the parent who - has no lawyer -
starts looking to the advocate for legal advice. When this happens, I
recommend that the advocate ask the school lawyer to leave the mediation
session - or at least sit in an adjoining room.

Sonja is beginning to develop her own website:

NOTE: On Wednesday, August 26 at 9 p.m., Sonja will discuss “Your Rights
in Mediation and Due Process” on the “Understanding Special Education”
Speakers Series, sponsored by AOL.

For more information about Sonja and this series go to:


“The I.D.E.A. Book: The Special Education Law and How to Use It”

Many newsletter subscribers have written to ask about our books. Here is
a progress report about “The I.D.E.A. Book: The Special Education Law
and How to Use It”

The I.D.E.A. Book includes the full text of IDEA 97. It will include the
special education regulations, Section 504, selected case law, and
commentary. We have added “Tips” and “Alerts” to help parents negotiate
through the special education minefield.

We have run into a problem with “The I.D.E.A. Book.” As many of you
know, the special education regulations were supposed to be released in
April or May, 1998 (the proposed regulations were published in the
Federal Register in October, 1997).

The newly amended IDEA 97 contains many important changes. These changes
will affect how special education is provided, how decisions are made,
and who must be consulted in making decisions. The amended law includes
benchmarks to measure the child’s progress objectively, adds new members
to the IEP team, requires that most children with disabilities will
participate in district-wide testing programs, and more.

The new law includes several new provisions about early intervention,
effective educational practices, and discipline. Many people wrote to
the Department of Education with complaints or comments about the new
law. The Department of Education postponed publication of the Final
Regulations until they could sort through and respond to these
complaints and comments.

The Rumor Mill says that the final regulations MAY be published in
September, 1998. These delays have caused us to put “The I.D.E.A. Book”
on hold until after the final regulations are available.

A few weeks ago, we sent the draft of “The I.D.E.A. Book” to our editor.
After the new regs are released, we’ll send “The I.D.E.A. Book” off to
the publisher.

We’ll keep you posted.

Some of the nation's top experts, specialists and authorities in their
fields are available on AOL in the Better Health Conference Room,
Wednesday evenings, 9 p.m., EDT.

“With IDEA 97 bringing about significant changes to this law, it is an
important time to understand what this amended law does and how it
works. A number of national experts on special education and civil
rights disability law are on the roster.”


August 19, 1998: Students Rights under The ADA, Section 504
Guest: Matthew Cohen, Esq.

August 26, 1998: Your Rights in Mediation and Due Process
Guest: Sonja Kerr, Esq.

September 2, 1998: Assistive Technology in Special Education
Guest: Susan Goodman, Esq.

September 9, 1998: An LDOnLine Presentation
Guest: To Be Announced

For information:

(6) Evaluations: What Parents Need to Know About Tests and Measurements

On August 12, 1998, we were guests on the AOL Speaker Series. Our Topic
was “Evaluations: What Parents Need to Know About Tests and

The Text Log of this session is at



Double Tree Hotel/Mission Valley to Host COPAA in San Diego

The Double Tree Hotel - Mission Valley in San Diego, California, will
host the 2nd Annual Conference of the Council of Parent Attorneys and
Advocates (COPAA), on January 29-31, 1999, S. James Rosenfeld, Esq.,
Executive Director announced.

COPAA is an independent grassroots initiative to improve educational
opportunities for children with disabilities. COPAA members consist of
attorneys who represent children with disabilities, non-attorney
advocates, and parents. COPAA's objective is to improve the quality and
quantity of legal resources and information required to secure an
appropriate education for children with disabilities. In addition to
conducting training sessions, COPAA will publish newsletters and
briefing papers and create a legal and advocacy resources databank.

"The DoubleTree at Mission Valley offered the best combination of
location, meeting facilities and sleeping room rates for our members,"
Mr. Rosenfeld stated. He reported that room rates start at $99.00 (plus
taxes) per night, single or double, and include free parking.

Reservations at this special rate are guaranteed only until December 25,
1998. To make room reservations, call (619) 297-5466 or FAX: (619)

The DoubleTree is located at 7450 Hazard Center Drive in Mission Valley,
about a 15 minute drive from the airport. The hotel provides
complimentary transportation from the airport and complimentary valet
parking. The new light rail transit system, which stops almost at the
hotel's door, will enable visitors to travel in and around San Diego for
a very modest cost.

Initiated by The EDLAW Center of Hollywood, Florida, COPAA is also
sponsored by a growing number of national and regional education
advocacy organizations.

For information and updates, go to

We’ll be there - we hope to see you there too.

You know WHO we are but . . . WHERE are we?

A short history lesson first: Stingray Point was named by the famous
English explorer, Captain John Smith. In the early 1600’s, Captain Smith
sailed the Chesapeake Bay and charted this part of the New World. In his
journal, Captain Smith wrote about a painful encounter he had with a
stingray - he named the spot where he was stung “Stingray Point.”

Afraid that their captain would die from his wound, his crew sailed
across the Rappahannock River to the north shore where an Indian tribe
lived. The Indians treated his wound with warm mud from a stream. He
survived and named this stream “Antipoison Creek.”

Pete loves maps. Early one morning, he designed some maps to show where
our office is located. Here are two of Pete’s new maps. The big red dot
marks the site of wrightslaw-dot-com. The first map shows the location
of wrightslaw-dot-com, in relation to Richmond and Williamsburg:

The second map shows wrightslaw-dot-com, in relation to the Chesapeake


In May, we went to Thailand where we had many adventures. We traveled
through the mountains of Thailand on the backs of elephants. We rode up
Thai rivers in longtail boats.

In the Photo Gallery, we added a picture of Pete, Pam, and Hillary
riding up a river in a colorful Thai longtail boat. Amazing Thailand.


A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces 
height and spots a man down below.

He lowers the balloon further and shouts: "Excuse me, can you tell me
where I am?"

The man below says: "Yes, you're in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet
above this field."

"You must be a lawyer," says the balloonist.

"I am," replies the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically
correct, but it's of no use to anyone."

The man below says, "You must be in business."

"I am, replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"

"Well," said the lawyer, "you don't know where you are, or where you're
going, but you expect me to be able to help. You're in the same position
you were in before we met, but now you think it's my fault."

(Feel free to substitute other professions for the lawyer and
businessman. It works.)


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Copyright 1998 Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright.
All rights reserved.

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
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, Virginia 23043


The Special Ed Advocate
Pete and Pam Wright