Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thumbs Up 4: Special Education Law & Advocacy Workshop

What a terrific investment of my, I attended a Special Education Law and Advocacy Seminar co-sponsored by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council and the US Department of Health and Human Services, Disabilities Division. The presenter was Pete Wright, an attorney specializing in special education who argued one of the most famous special education Supreme Court cases, Florence County School District IV v. Shannon Carter -- ruling unanimously for Carter, the judges held that if a public school defaults and the child receives an appropriate education in a private placement, the parents are entitled reimbursement for the education that should have been provided by the School District. Pete and his wife are also co-authors to some of the most informative and widely read books on special education -- I was lucky enough to get copies of the Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition and Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition free of charge for attending the conference.

The seminar is a MUST for any parent of a child with a disability -- I have been in the dark and hugely intimated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004) and the associated laws, regulations, etc. But, as Lucas will be three in October and we will face his first IEP (Individualized Education Plan), I thought it mandatory to attend the workshop and am so glad I did. I feel much better informed, prepared, and armed. Pete guided us through the essential elements of the law and helped decifer some of the more cryptic language. Again, it was a very worthwhile investment of my time...I'm bummed Tom didn't attend. I will share this information with him and other friends/parents of kids with disabilities who would benefit from even a basic understanding of the law so we can help advocate, protect, and even defend our children's rights to a free appropriate public education.

The purpose of I.D.E.A. is (among others): to ensure all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. [Amen!]

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