Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
At Wrightslaw, our goals are to help you gain the information and skills you need navigate the challenging, changing world of special education.
School districts that litigate; Zachary Deal v. Hamilton Co. Bd of Ed;
inside story of Deal v. Hamilton Co, part 1; meet Gary Mayerson, parent
attorney; Council of Parent Attorneys & Advocates; autism, PDD, Asperger's
syndrome; How to Compromise with Your School District without Compromising
Your Child; IDEA News - feds request comments, announce meetings; Wrightslaw
programs in FL, NJ, NY, IN, AZ. Download
1. School Districts That Litigate
Many parents describe the process of negotiating with the school as a frustrating, exhausting ordeal.
Too many school districts provide "one size fits all programs" and resist parental requests for programs that are designed to meet the unique needs of the child, as required by law. When school districts refuse to educate, and choose to litigate instead, no one wins.
reasons, we were delighted to learn about a new decision from the U. S.
Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that focuses on these issues. In
this issue of
The Special Ed Advocate, we provide you with the decision, background
information about the case, and introduce the attorney who represented
the family during years of litigation. We also provide an update on IDEA
2. Zachary Deal v. Hamilton County TN Board of Ed (6th Cir. 2004)
On December 16, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a decision in Zachary Deal v. Hamilton County (TN) Board of Education.
The case involves Zachary Deal, a young child with autism. After Zachary made exceptional progress in a one-on-one ABA Lovaas program provided by his parents, the parents asked the school district to fund the program. The school district refused and offered to place Zachary in their one-size-fits all special education program for young children with autism - an "eclectic program" with no evidence of success.
In Deal v. Hamilton County, the Court found numerous violations of IDEA:
child's placement - The school system pre-decided not to offer intensive
ABA services regardless of the evidence about his individual needs and
the effectiveness of the ABA program.
* Denied FAPE
The Court found that the school district's "eclectic" program "provides little or no chance of self-sufficiency for an autistic child while, under the Lovaas approach, self-sufficiency is a real possibility."
also found that "While schools are not required to 'maximize' a child's
potential, there is a point at which the difference in outcomes between
two methods can be so great that provision of the lesser program could
amount to denial of a FAPE."
3. Inside Story of Zachary Deal v. Hamilton County Department of Education, Part 1
Gary Mayerson represented Zachary and his parents through this long ordeal. After the favorable decision in 2001, he reflected on the costs when school districts cling to outmoded programs and fight to retain the status quo:
"What is incredible, other than the length of the hearing (27 days) and the tens of thousands of pages of evidence, is the crushing cost to the County which is in excess of $600,000, no matter how you slice it."
"They have already paid their counsel at least $300,000 . . . They owe the family more than $110,000 for prior ABA services and [for] the balance of 2001-2002 and any "pendency" relief if there is a further dispute. And they owe our attorney's fees."
What led this school district to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend an indefensible position? Why did Hamilton County throw more money into an appeal? What do the taxpayers of Hamilton County think?
Inside Story of Zachary Deal v. Hamilton County
How many children could have received high-quality special education programs - including one-on-one ABA/Lovaas educational programs - if Hamilton County had used their money to educate - not litigate against children and families?
4. Meet Gary Mayerson, Parent Attorney
In 2000, Gary Mayerson launched his practice dedicated to representing children and adolescents diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders and other disabilities.
Mr. Mayerson and his staff assist families across the nation who are attempting to secure for their children appropriate placements and services including 1:1 Applied Behavior Analysis, Supported Inclusion, Speech and Language Therapy/Augmentive Communication, Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy, Assistive Technology and preparation for gainful employment.
Mr. Mayerson represented the parent in Bucks County Dept of Mental Health v. De Mora. In Bucks, the Federal District Court (E.D. PA) held that a parent may be compensated by the school district for providing ABA services. This appears to be the first time any federal court has made such a ruling. Analysis of Bucks Co Dept of Mental Health v. De Mora by Gary Mayerson
We thank Gary Mayerson for his work on behalf of children and families.
5. Council of Parent Attorneys & Advocates
If you are
interested in special education law and advocacy, consider joining the
Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
(COPAA). More about
6. Autism, PDD, Asperger's Syndrome
Many parents and teachers have questions about special education services for children with autism. The decision in Deal v. Hamilton County emphasizes the need to develop individualized programs that provide measurable educational benefit.
You need to educate yourself about the child's disability, effective educational methods and medical treatments, and how to present the child's problems to school staff so they want to help.
Our Autism, PDD & Asperger's Page has frequently asked questions, in-depth articles, legal resources, caselaw, free publications, a list of information and support groups, and more.
7. How to Compromise with Your School District without Compromising Your Child
Gary Mayerson, attorney in Deal v. Hamilton County, wrote "How to Compromise with Your School District without Compromising Your Child." He teaches parents how educational bureaucracies work - and don't work - for children with special needs. How to Compromise includes:
to prepare for an IEP meeting,
The practical strategies in How to Compromise with Your School District without Compromising Your Child apply to children with all disabilities.
8. IDEA News: Feds Request Comments, Announce Public Meetings
3, 2004, the President signed
the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act into law.
9. Mark Your Calendars! Wrightslaw Programs in FL, NJ, NY, IN, AZ!
Special Education Law and Advocacy Training Programs focus on these
areas: special education laws,
rights & responsibilities; how to use the bell curve to measure educational
progress & regression; SMART IEPs; and advocacy tactics & strategies.
OH: February 23-24, 2005 SOLD OUT!
Island, NY: March 4-5, 2005 (Mini Boot Camp)
participants will receive two books, Wrightslaw:
Special Education Law and Wrightslaw:
From Emotions to Advocacy, with their registration (Value: $59.90).
Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education
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