Special Education Law exists to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free and appropriate public education that is designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education,self-sufficiency, employment and independent living. The law arises primarily out of the lndividuals with Disability Education Act (20 U.S.C. §1400 et seq.) Congress first enacted this statutory scheme in 1975 in order to reverse our nation's long history of discrimination and egregious neglect of children with disabilities.
The PSEAC represents children with disabilities and their parents in disputes with school districts regarding the child's right to receive a free and appropriate public education. The PSEAC is located on campus and meets weekly on Tuesday evenings from 6-8 P.M. Law students may enroll in the PSEAC for 3 units and work in the clinic a required number of hours depending upon the number of credits for which the law student is registered. Law students provide legal services to clients under the direction and supervision of Professor Richard Peterson, Clinic Director. These services, although provided in the context of Special Education Law include lawyering skills essential in a broad context of legal practice areas. Law students interview clients, gather evidence, conduct legal research, analyze and develop legal strategies, undertake negotiations, prepare legal pleadings, petitions, motions and other documents, as well as participate in mediation and litlgatlon proceedings. Students are assigned tasks according to their level of knowledge and experience obtained either prior to or in the course of their clinic participation. New clinic members are often teamed with more experienced students who act as mentors.
Parents depend upon the PSEAC for representation which frequently has lifelong implications for their children, therefore students accepted into the Clinic must commit to complete assignments in a competent and timely manner and adhere to the policies and procedures set forth in the Clinic manual. To read about some of PSEACS successful cases see the stories referred to in the following internet links: