What is Education Advocacy?
Understanding Partners In Education Advocacy Program
Partners in Education Advocacy is a legally-based education advocacy course designed and taught primarily by lawyers. The course also uses behavioral and educational instructors. The course covers school-age and pre-school children with disabilities, extending through secondary education, with some emphasis on post secondary issues to the extent they are part of a student’s transition.
The goal of the course is to enable graduates to: (1) assist individual families in the development of Individualized Educational Programs (IEP’s) and 504 Plans (2) make public presentations on educational issues, including parent’s rights, and (3) work collectively to address systemic educational issues which are not fully addressed by the existing educational system.
The course will enable graduates to:
- identify and locate the law and legal resources;
- identify and locate scientifically-based educational and behavioral methodology;
- share publicly available educational resources and aid families in the development of IEP’s and 504 Plans;
- share publicly available behavioral resources with families and not engage in the practice of medicine or psychology without a license;
- share publicly available legal resources with families and not engage in the unauthorized practice of law; and
- identify unaddressed systemic educational issues and collectively work to improve the educational system.
Partners In Education Advocacy
…an introduction to learning legally based advocacy
The material taught in this course is completely comprehensible by you. Law, unlike nuclear physics or biochemistry, is the study of human activities on a very visible, familiar level. To be generally aware of society and its many endeavors is to know at least the subject matter with which law deals. The essential core of what you will be studying for the next several months is nothing more than the history, politics and personal dramas you have been aware of since childhood, at least your childs, if not your own. What you will be presented in this training will be nothing more difficult than the rules regulating your own conduct in the special education area in American society. While law deals with matters of human activity that you are probably aware of, the sheer number of rules and regulations that you must know and differentiate among can be staggering. And for your studies to be successful, you must learn this mass of material in a very short period of time. Each of you has been selected because you already have a working knowledge of the law. You will move beyond your personal knowledge to organize information for the benefit of the community. The keys to your success will be: (1) discipline and (2) a method that can process the great mass of material you will be presented with.
The instructors for your course are lawyers, non-lawyers under the supervision of lawyers and instructors from the fields of education and behavior. Prior to this course, you were working pro se, as the legal expression goes, that is, representing yourself. The focus of this course will be to prepare you to provide legally based advocacy to support other families of children with disabilities.
When you complete this course, you will not practice law (unless, of course, you later obtain a law license). Our attorneys are prohibited from assisting you in the unauthorized practice of law. We will expect you to conform to the Rules of Professional Responsibility that we as lawyers follow. The attorney-client relationship that lawyers establish with their clients is one of great trust. It is, to use another legal term, a Afiduciary relationship. For these clients, lawyers are bound morally (as well as legally) to do all that we can to solve the problems presented within the bounds of the law. One cannot adequately and ethically represent a client if the effort is halfhearted. This attitude must begin at the outset of this training.
Public Service Law
Although there are several types of law practice, this training will acquaint you with public service. By public service is meant, not political activities, but a legal career with a nonprofit organization dedicated to the benefit of the public or a particular segment of society. Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc. is the federally funded protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities in the State of Oklahoma
Method of Instruction
Prior to the late 1800’s, the study of law was accomplished primarily through the reading of treatises and commentaries or through on-the-job training. Modern law schools utilize the Socratic method, with assignments consisting primarily of court decisions, usually contained in a casebook in which the author has compiled a number of decisions, each one representing a rule of law that you are to learn. Law students read these cases and then A brief them. The professor questions students until they have an understanding of the rules. The professor attempts to expand the students analytical powers and, to some extent, get the student accustomed to oral presentation. Our goal in this training will be to develop a mix of instructional methods to reduce the boredom of straight lecture and avoid unnecessary tension from the Socratic method. We will also incorporate a multidisciplinary approach by using instructors from the fields of education and behavior.
You will learn to Abrief a case. (Briefing a case should not be confused with preparing a brief, that is, a written statement of the law and argument for the benefit of a hearing officer or judge during a trial or appeal.) A case brief is a synopsis of an actual legal decision reported by a court or administrative agency. Briefing accomplishes the following for you: (1) it teaches you rules of law, since a decision is a record of the process of applying a legal rule to a set of facts; (2) it familiarizes you with the mechanism of how courts work; (3) it enables you to reduce the cases relevant to your work to a manageable and understandable form; and (4) it will enable you to present complex fact situations and legal issues in a comfortable manner.
We will move as quickly as possible in the training, but as slowly as needed. While the curriculum is fixed, the methods and pace are adaptable to the needs of the group and can be altered as we proceed. Our first class graduated in late 2002, with an internship in 2003; our second class graduated in 2004, with an internship in 2005. A new class starts as soon as the internship period for the previous class ends. Some of the PEA graduates will be available to you as resources throughout the course.
During the course of instruction, you will have an opportunity to form study groups. A variety of perspectives on a legal issue are helpful in solving legal problems. In law firms, attorneys and paralegals meet in conferences and in less formal discussions when they are attempting to adopt a litigation strategy or produce an answer to a client=s inquiry. Karl Llewellyn wrote, AIn group work lie ideas, cross-lights; dispute, and practice in dispute; cooperative thinking and practice in consultation; spur for the weary, pleasure for the strong. In order to get something out of a study group, you must bring sufficient knowledge on your part. Orally explaining concepts and rules to each other increases your understanding. You can also help each other prepare for upcoming tests during the course.
Content of Instruction
The PEA training over the next few months will be organized around the following topic areas:
- Legal Research and Writing
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act
- No Child Left Behind Act
- Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
- McKinney-Vento Act
- Understanding court and administrative systems
- Advocacy and communication
Attendance is absolutely mandatory. Making up a class is difficult, if not impossible. If you are not able to attend all the courses, give consideration to postponing your participation at this time and sign up for a future class. The tentative dates established for the course can be changed to fit the needs of the participants. But once they are agreed on, you must be able to be present to obtain any benefit from the training program.
What is Provided
The law center will provide you the following supports while you attend the training:
- Mileage reimbursement at the federal rate for your travel.
- Hotel room on Friday and Saturday nights.
- Books, notebooks and other classroom material.
- Accommodation requests should be presented to the director
Alternative Method of Instruction
During time periods when ODLC is not conducting a regularly scheduled class, please discuss a program of individualized instruction with the law center.
Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc.
2915 Classen Blvd., Suite 300
Oklahoma City, OK 73106
Direct Line: 405-409-5761
Joy J. Turner
Direct Line: 405-409-5759
PEA List for Your Class
An internet resource and communication listserv is developed for each class. Your instructors will provide for your access to the list.
Our PEA Class of 2004