The Ward family story began in California, where they were living when three-year-old Brianna Ward was diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum.
Upon receiving the diagnosis, her father Allan Ward worked very hard to get resources for her, including an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and learning what he needed to do as an advocate for his daughter in those most critical years before Briana even entered the school district. But then the family moved to Nevada where things were handled differently.
“It forced us to get an advocate attorney to help us understand our rights and to advocate for our daughter,” Ward said. “We would see other families who either didn’t have the resources or the option to take time off from work to advocate the way they needed to in order to receive services and support, and we ended up sharing Brianna’s 1:1 aide with other children.”
Ward said he urges families of children with IEPs to learn their rights and develop an understanding of the laws surrounding IEPs.
One way parents can be empowered toward success in the IEP process is to attend the Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Conference at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno on Thursday, Dec. 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The conference is presented by Newton Learning Center, a school for children with autism and other learning differences to better manage her education and emotional support in Reno.
The first-ever Wrightslaw conference held in Nevada will focus on four areas: special education law, rights and responsibilities; tests and measurements to measure progress and regression; SMART IEPs; and an introduction to tactics and strategies for effective advocacy.
Pete Wright, Esq., founder of Wrightslaw, argued the case, Florence County v. Shannon Carter, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on October 6, 1993, on behalf of Shannon Carter. Carter, a student with dyslexia and ADHD, requested placement in a private school to receive more intensive programming to bring her up to grade level. Her request was denied by the Florence County, South Carolina, school district. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Carter, and Wright launched Wrightslaw soon after.
Wrightslaw empowers parents to take charge of their children’s education, to familiarize themselves with their legal rights, and how to implement techniques for communication with teachers, administrators, and their IEP team.
Ward eventually enrolled his daughter at Newton Learning Center.
Through individualized education planning, small class sizes and life strategies curriculum, children who attend Newton Learning Center often catch up to their appropriate grade level and can be transferred back in to mainstream educational programs, or graduate from Newton Learning Center. Many will go on to vocational and/or post-secondary education.
“For parents whose children need an IEP, learning how to advocate for them is critical,” Ward said. “Know your rights, talk to professionals and be as prepared as you can be.”
The cost to attend the conference is $75. All conference registrants will receive copies of three books authored by Wright, including Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, and Wrightslaw: All About IEPs.
Six CLEs, or continuing legal education credits, approved through Nevada’s Board of Continuing Legal Education and 0.6 CEUs, or continuing education units, approved through Delta State University, for educators, are available for an additional fee of $20, payable by check at the conference.
To register for the Wrightslaw conference, visit www.SecondStart.com/WrightslawRegistration or for more information, contact Rebecca “RJ” Larrieu, director of Newton Learning Center, at [email protected].
The conference is sponsored by the Nevada Educational Advocacy Center for Children and Youth and American Solutions for Business.
- What: Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Conference with Pete Wright, Esq.
- When: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Where: Atlantis Casino & Resort Reno, Nev.
- Cost: $75, or $100 with CLEs or CEUs
- Register: SecondStart.com/WrightslawRegistration
About Newton Learning Center
Newton Learning Center is a private school in northwest Reno, founded in 2008, providing an individualized approach for students with social-cognitive disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. The school is one of four schools operated by Second Start Learning Disability Programs Inc. and the only one in Nevada. Newton Learning Center San Jose, Pine Hill School San Jose and Pine Hill School Marina are in California.
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