The Special Ed Advocate
The Special Ed Advocate
The Online Newsletter About Special Education and the Law
June 6, 1998 Vol. 1, No. 4
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 newsletter.
IN THIS ISSUE: June 6, 1998
(1) "THE INSIDE STORY OF THE $600,000 JURY VERDICT" by Laura Whiteside, Esq.
FLASH! $133,000 SETTLEMENT TO MISSOURI PARENTS IN ABA-AUTISM
(3) NEW CASE!! Muller v. East Islip Union Free School District (Second
Circuit, May 22, 1998)- eligibility, conduct disorder v. emotional
(4) NEW CASE!! Yankton v. Schramm (Eighth Circuit decision, date) - 504 v.
(5) News Update - COPAA
(6) Letters to the Webmaster - Read "Letter from Jackie" about making an
(1) "THE INSIDE STORY OF THE $600,000 JURY VERDICT"
by Laura Whiteside, Esq.
Five years after they requested a special education due process hearing.
Andrew Whitehead's parents had their day in court. On April 3, after
deliberating for less than two hours, a Florida jury found that the
Hillsborough School Board retaliated against the parents for attempting to
protect their son's rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
The jury awarded each parent $300,000.00.
On April 6, we advised Special Ed Advocate subscribers about this case.
After Pete talked with Laura Whiteside, the parents' attorney, she agreed to
write an article about "The Inside Story" of this precedent-setting case.
We promised to keep you posted about new developments in this case. On April
21, the Hillsborough School Board asked the Court for a new trial - or to
reduce the damages awarded by the jury. The school board also asked the
Court to issue an order holding the parents responsible for the school
district's costs to defend the intentional discrimination issues.
On May 24, an injunction was entered that prohibits the School Board from
failing to specify the special education and related services that are
Andrew's IEP. The IEP must include the services Andrew needs.
You can read the "Inside Story" at
$133,000 SETTLEMENT TO MISSOURI PARENTS IN ABA-AUTISM CASE
Daniel Asbury is six years old. He also has autism. After two years in the
school district's self-contained preschool program, Daniel made only two
months of "progress."
Daniel's parents, Michael and Kathryn Asbury, decided to do some research on
programs that have a better track record. They learned about Applied
Behavioral Analysis. Later, Daniel's parents developed an ABA program for
In ABA therapy programs, the autistic child receives intensive one-on-one
therapy, six hours a day, seven days a week, for two to three years.
After 11 months of therapy, Daniel made 46 months of progress in
communication skills. When his parents asked the district to continue the
ABA program, the district refused.
Daniel's parents filed suit against the district. They claimed that the
district failed to provide Daniel with an appropriate education - and that
Daniel was damaged by the district's inappropriate program.
To read the press release, go to:
To read the actual settlement agreement, go to:
NEW CASE !!
On May 22, 1998, the Second Circuit issued a decision in Muller v. East
Islip Union Free School District.
In this case, the school district claimed that the child had a "conduct
disorder" so this made her ineligible for special education.
The Second Circuit upheld the District Court's decision that Treena Muller
was a child with a disability (SED). As a child with a disability, Treena
was entitled to a free appropriate education. The court awarded Treena
compensatory damages and attorney's fees.
You will find Muller v. East Islip in the Law Library.
NEW CASE !!
A few weeks ago, we introduced our first guest, Sonja Kerr. Sonja is the
well-known special education attorney from Minnesota. We told you about
Sonja's advice-packed article for attorneys, "Letter to Damon."
On June 6, we added another of Sonja's recommended cases, Yankton v.
Schramm, to the Law Library.
Wonder why so many school districts fight tooth and nail to avoid providing
special education services - but are happy to write a 504 Plan for that
In Yankton v. Schramm, the Eighth Circuit considered the case of a 16 year
old who had cerebral palsy. The school district unilaterally terminated this
child's special education eligibility - over her parents' objections. Yet,
the district was quite willing to provide accommodations under Section 504.
After Eighth Circuit analyzed this young girl's situation, and the rights
under IDEA and Section 504, they agreed that she was eligible for special
education and related services under IDEA. They affirmed that as a recipient
of services under IDEA, she would receive 504 protections. The Court also
discussed transition services.
The newly authorized IDEA focuses on the need to provide quality special
education. The new IDEA also emphasizes transition services. If you have an
interest in eligibility, 504 issues, or transition, read Yankton v. Schramm.
NEWS UPDATE - COPAA!
COPAA is the new nonprofit organization of attorneys, advocates and parents
established to improve the quality and quantity of legal assistance to
parents of children with disabilities.
In January, nearly 200 attorneys and advocates met in Orlando for the first
COPAA conference. Plans for next year's conference are in the works now. For
more information about this exciting organization, go to
LETTERS TO THE WEBMASTER
We receive lots of letters from people with questions. We also receive lots
of letters from people who disagree with our positions and opinions.
We believe that differing views, tactics, strategies, beliefs, opinions, and
prejudices make for interesting reading. If you have an idea, position, or
just want to stimulate debate, send us an email.
We are working on a new section for our web site , "Letters to the
If you have a favorite tip, tactic, or strategy that you'd like to share
with us, send it to
Planning a move? This week, we received an e-mail from Jackie. Jackie wanted
advice about moving to another state. Jackie is very satisfied with her
child's special education program. She asked what steps parents can take to
find a good special ed program. Pete answered her questions.
Read "Letter to Jackie" in the Special Ed Advocacy Library.
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Copyright © 1998, Peter W. D. Wright. All rights reserved. The resources at
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