Subj: THE SPECIAL ED ADVOCATE, VOL. 1, NO. 11,
September 8, 1998
Date: 9/8/98 7:08:17 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Pete and Pam Wright)
The Special Ed Advocate
The Online Newsletter About
Special Education and the Law
September 8, 1998 Vol. 1, No. 11
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'll receive announcements
and "alerts" about new cases and other events. Contact, copyright, and
subscription information is listed at the end of this newsletter.
IN THIS ISSUE: SEPTEMBER 8, 1998
(1.) PRESS RELEASE: THE ADVOCATE BOOKSTORE OPENS TODAY (BETA VERSION)
(2.) WE NEED YOUR HELP!
(3.) MEDIATION: Definitions, Standards of Practice
(4.) NEW LETTER TO THE WEBMASTER
Dave writes to ask "Lovaas v. TEACCH?"
(5.) GOOD CASE: MR. X. v. NEW YORK (S.D. NY 1997)
(6.) SONJA KERR ANNOUNCES NEW WEB SITE
(7.) NEWS RELEASE: Clinical Symposium on Tourette Syndrome and
Associated Disorders, Alexandria, Virginia, October 16, 1998.
(8.) UPDATE: The "Understanding Special Education Series" on AOL
(9.) REMINDER - COPAA CONFERENCE
(10.) SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION
(1.) THE SPECIAL ED ADVOCATE'S BOOKSTORE OPENS ON TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8,
1998 (BETA VERSION)
We have been working on our new Advocate's Bookstore for weeks - stop in
to preview the "beta version" of our new project. Let us know your
impressions and thoughts.
(2) WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Our web site has grown to the point where it has become very difficult
to manage. We revised the site in late April. Now we are revising the
site again. This means that we are moving articles into new libraries,
adding links, and re-formatting the pages. We are adding the bookstore.
When we finish this process, it should be easier for you find the
information you need.
There is a downside to this. As we move files, we lose links. (There are
thousands of links in the site.) It is impossible for us to check each
and every link. If you find a broken link, please let us know! We ask
that you send us an e mail - tell us what you were looking for and which
"error message" you received. If we get this information from visitors,
we'll finish the process more quickly.
(3.) MORE ABOUT MEDIATION
Many parents are writing with questions about mediation. "Should we
request mediation?" "Should we participate in mediation?" "How are
mediators trained?" "Are mediators really impartial?"
Both Pete and Pam have received mediation training. The information
below is from the Academy of Family Mediators web site:
"Mediation offers people the opportunity to resolve their disputes with
the help of a neutral person trained in mediation skills, domestic
violence issues, financial issues, and other topics."
"The mediator is not a judge or an arbitrator who imposes a decision on
people, but is trained to assist people in negotiating their own
resolution to their problems or concerns."
"Although mediators may come from a variety of professional backgrounds
including: attorneys; psychologists; social workers; marriage or family
counselors; clergy people; accountants and financial specialists, they
received specialized training to become mediators."
STANDARDS OF PRACTICE FOR FAMILY AND DIVORCE MEDIATION
"Mediation is a family-centered conflict resolution process in which an
impartial third party assists the participants to negotiate a consensual
and informed settlement. In mediation, whether private or public,
decision-making authority rests with the parties."
"The role of the mediator includes reducing the obstacles to
communication, maximizing the exploration of alternatives, and
addressing the needs of those it is agreed are involved or affected."
"Mediation is based on principles of problem solving that focus on the
needs and interests of the participants; fairness; privacy; self
determination; and the best interest of all family members."
If you are considering mediation, we urge you to learn about the process
- what it can accomplish, the limitations, and so forth.
One book that we recommend at our training sessions is "Getting To Yes"
by Roger Fisher and William Ury. This book describes the conflict
resolution process. Getting to Yes offers a way to resolve conflict that
leads to "win-win" solutions. These techniques are based on research
from the Harvard Negotiation Project.
To learn more about this and other books about Negotiation, Persuasion,
and Conflict Resolution, go to our new Advocate's Bookstore:
(4.) NEW LETTER TO THE WEBMASTER
On August 21, 1998, we sent out an ALERT to newsletter subscribers. In
this Alert, we advised that the Department of Education was re-opening
their comment period on Early Intervention Regs. We added that:
"Effective early intervention programs are crucial for young children
with severe disorders like autism. The only early intervention programs
that have track records of success with these children are ABA/discrete
trial/Lovaas therapy programs. These programs are intensive and
expensive. Few school districts have made these programs available to
young autistic children - even though they are the only programs that
Our mailbox quickly filled up with messages from people who took issue
with these statements. We were unable to respond to all of these
messages but felt that we needed to clarify our position.
Dave was one of many people who wrote about the TEACCH-Lovaas debate.
Read Dave's letter, our response, and his reply at:
(5) Mr. X v. NEW YORK (S.D. NY 1997)
What is ABA/DT/Lovaas therapy? How does it work? Why is it so
This is how Judge Motley described ABA therapy (sometimes called
"Discrete Trial" or "Lovaas therapy").
"The facts as alleged in the complaint are as follows: E was born on
August 9, 1991. Since March, 1994, E has been receiving, at the expense
of his parents, remediation for his autistic symptoms in a home based
program which incorporates discrete trial instructions using Applied
Behavioral Analysis ("ABA"). (footnote 1)"
"ABA has been recognized as the only method with any real success in the
remediation of autistic symptoms."
"Discrete trial instruction using ABA is conducted by paraprofessionals
on a one-to-one basis under skilled supervision. Remediation requires
intensive formal instruction by paraprofessionals and is supplemented by
continuous incidental teaching by parents and caregivers. Autistic
children, including E, often lack motivation to learn new tasks,
participate in social environments, and utilize important cues set
before them in an educational setting."
"Es home based program was conducted 40 hours a week by three
paraprofessionals, who were supervised by a professional trained in ABA
and who spent two to three hours with E improving his motivation and
ability to recognize environmental cues, and was supplemented by
instruction from his parents."
"Es ABA instruction was also supplemented with mainstream activities
with children without disabilities, particularly two music classes and a
mother/child play group several days a week."
"(Footnote 1: ABA therapy is a form of treatment for autistic
preschoolers that was developed by Dr. Ivar Lovaas at the Princeton
Child Development Institute and consists of breaking down activities
into discrete individual tasks and rewarding the child's accomplishment.
The child eventually learns to integrate the information and associate
instruction with a given activity. See Malkentzos v. DeBuono, 923 F.
Supp. 505, 509 (S.D.N.Y. 1996), remanded on other grounds, 102 F.3d 50
(2d Cir. 1996))"
As you read the Mr. X case, you'll see that Judge Motley was presented
with several other questions:
If a local school district fails to provide a child with an appropriate
education, is the state responsible?
If the state review officer makes a procedural error, is the state
liable? (see page 7)
What is "due weight?" (see page 8)
How much "deference" should a judge give to findings of fact and law
from the administrative level? (page 11)
How much educational benefit is enough? (pages 12-14)
Is a class-based program for very young children less "restrictive" than
a home based educational program? (page 14)
Does the law require that all children with disabilities be
"mainstreamed?" (page 14)
Read Judge Motley's well-written, well-reasoned decision at
(6.) NEWS RELEASE: KERR LAW OFFICE ANNOUNCES WEBSITE
Many readers have visited Sonja Kerr's "Letter to Damon" at our website
where she provides advice about tactics and strategy to the lawyer who
is handling his or her first special education case. See
http://www.wrightslaw.com/ltr_to_new_lawyer_Kerr.html to read the
Sonja is proud to announce that the Kerr Law Office now has a website.
You may find the website by going to: http://www.kerrlaw.com. The focus
of her website will be threefold. First, there will be timely news from
Washington and across the country on issues related to IDEA. Second,
there will be an emphasis on Eighth Circuit and Minnesota caselaw and
information. (The Eighth Circuit includes Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri,
North and South Dakota, Arkansas.) Third, an effort will be made to
include programmatic information that will be helpful in IDEA disputes.
Sonja will developing a webpage devoted to a case as it travels through
the long journey of mediation, pre-hearing, due process, etc. She
reports that the case will be up in the next few weeks and will include
parental interviews, interviews from caregivers, etc.
We have developed a strong friendship with Sonja. In June she visited us
here at Stingray Point on the Chesapeake Bay and we had a great time. We
are looking forward to the emergence of another website devoted to
special ed advocacy.
(7.) NEWS RELEASE
CLINICAL SYMPOSIUM ON TOURETTE SYNDROME AND ASSOCIATED DISORDERS,
OCTOBER 16, 1998.
Experts from around the country will meet on October 16, 1998 at the
Radisson Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia for a Clinical and Scientific
Symposium on Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders. This Symposium
is being sponsored by the Tourette Syndrome Association.
Clinicians and scientific researchers will discuss research on Tourette
Syndrome symptoms. These clinicians are also searching for answers about
associated disorders which include Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD),
Attention Deficit Disorders, and learning problems.
Topics will include:
Overview of TS - Gerald Erenberg, MD (Cleveland Clinic Foundation)
Comorbidity & Differential Diagnosis - John Walkup, MD (Professor, Johns
Scientific Basis of TS - Harvey Singer, MD (Professor of Pediatric
Neurology, Johns Hopkins)
Treatment: An Overview - Roger Freeman, MD (Neuropsychiatry Clinic,
British Columbia Children's Hospital)
Advocacy: Education; Other Health Care Services - Ramona Collins
(Children's Hospital of Oklahoma), Ken Rickler MD (Professor, Clinical
Neurosciences, Brown University), Larry Scahill (Research Scientist,
Yale Child Study Center)
PANDAS - Immunology & TS/OCD Symptom Onset - Roger Kurlan, MD (Professor
of Neurology, University of Rochester/Strong Memorial Hospital)
TS Research: An Update - James Leckman MD (Professor Child Psychiatry
and Pediatrics, Yale Child Study Center)
For information about this Symposium, contact the Tourette Syndrome
Association at 718-224-2999 or email: email@example.com
(8.) COMING UP: MORE GUESTS ON THE 'UNDERSTANDING SPECIAL EDUCATION'
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."
September 9, 1998: The Politics of Special Education & Advocacy
Guest: Mark Friedman of Speaking for Ourselves
Reflections on The Parent Disability Rights Movement
September 16, 1998: IEP's in IDEA 97
Guest: Pete & Pam Wright
September 23, 1998: Attention Deficit Disorder and Learning Disabilities
in Special Education
Guest: An LDOnLine Presentation: Richard Lavoie
September 30, 1998: Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities
October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month
Guest: Shirley Cramer, Executive Director, CCLD
Candace Cortiella, Project Director, LD OnLine
For more information:
(9.) REMINDER COPAA CONFERENCE
The Second Annual COPAA Conference will be held in San Diego on January
29-31, 1999. BE THERE!
To learn more about plans for the Second Annual COPAA Conference, go to
COPAA is The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates. More information
can also be found at http://www.edlaw.net .
(10.) SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION
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Copyright 1998 Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright.
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Pete and Pam Wright
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, Virginia 23043
The Special Ed Advocate
Pete and Pam Wright