Today I’m going to talk to you about special education law, specifically special education case law. Case law isn’t all that interesting, however it is much less boring than I previously believed it to be. The trick, for me, has been in learning the language that lawyers employ to make their legal code impenetrable. Once you’ve mastered the vocabulary used by these scoundrels, which they do NOT wish you to do, then you’re more than halfway home. If, as an advocate, you have acquired the ability to read published cases and understand exactly what a judge has already ruled regarding a certain school district providing SE services to a certain handicapped child, then you’ve significantly upped your advocacy game.
All of us have many lessons to learn in the advocacy arena. Short of going to law school yourself, you’re going to have to adopt strategies employed by inmates who hang out in the law library and turn themselves into jailhouse lawyers. Lesson # 1 for today: the ability to recite the provisions of IDEA isn’t going to take you nearly as far as you hope to go. You have to be able to reference specific cases and provide details about what federal and state judges have written in response to some other parents’ due process claims. You read and internalize case law, particularly 5th circuit case law, in order to be able to quote what some judge said about the educational entitlement of some other child in circumstances similar to the situation of the child for whom you advocate. Continue reading