Special Education Advocacy Clinic | Experiential Learning | School of Law | Pepperdine University

Special Education Advocacy Clinic

Special Education Law

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.

Pepperdine Special Education Advocacy Clinic (PSEAC)

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:

More Information

Guiding Principles

Special Education Advocacy Clinic's Guiding Principles

  1. Children with disabilities possess unique qualities that may enrich the lives of those with whom they interact.
  2. Children with disabilities need effective advocates relative to their special education needs.
  3. Assistance with advocacy relative to special education issues is a service Regional Centers are required to provide to their consumers.
  4. An extreme shortage exists with respect to the availability of advocates and advocacy services for consumers of Regional Centers relative to special education issues.
  5. Legal advocacy services are often not available to consumers because of financial constraints or parents' lack of knowledge regarding available resources.
  6. Children with disabilities benefit when their parents and family members are knowledgeable about their special education rights and responsibilities.
  7. Legal advocacy services and training may be provided to consumers in a competent and cost effective manner through collaboration with law school clinical programs.
  8. Special education places families and educational agencies in a relationship likely to last for many years during which the law contemplates both will necessarily interact in meeting the educational needs of children with disabilities. The interests of such children are best served when families and educational agencies work together in a collaborative manner.
  9. Collaboration is most likely to occur between educational agencies and parents where parties possess substantive knowledge of the law, and where they possess knowledge and skills regarding interests based in negotiation and problem solving.
  10. Collaboration is most likely to occur between educational agencies and parents where the parties possess knowledge of the procedural safeguards associated with federal and state special education law.


The objectives of the Pepperdine Special Education Advocacy Clinic relative to students are to

  1. Introduce students to public interest law;
  2. Teach students substantive special education law as applied to actual factual situations;
  3. Teach students about the nature of disabilities encountered in special education law;
  4. Facilitate students' awareness of the unique qualities possessed by persons with disabilities that enrich the lives of those who interact with them;vHelp students develop competency in the knowledge and skills required to be a special education law practitioner;
  5. Teach students the various strategies to be used in meeting clients' special education needs, including alternative dispute resolution processes. In that regard, students will seek collaborative resolution of special education issues on behalf of clients, where possible, and employ competitive strategies where collaborative efforts are met with exploitation.

The objectives of the Pepperdine Special Education Advocacy Clinic relative to parents and families of children with disabilities are to

  1. Empower parents and family members of Regional Center Consumers by teaching them their rights and responsibilities relative to special education law;
  2. Empower parents and family members of Regional Center Consumers by teaching them conflict resolution and problem-solving skills necessary to interact with educational agencies regarding special education issues;
  3. Assess special education legal issues for clients of the Clinic;
  4. Advocate for clients' special education rights by attending IEP's with parents and/or family members;
  5. Provide resource information for clients whose special education legal needs exceed the capacity and/or purpose of the Clinic.

Links for Disabilities


Attention Deficit Disorder

Rhetts Syndrome

Down Syndrome



Mental Retardation

Developmental Delay

Cerebral Palsy


  • The ARC - The Arc is the national organization of and for people with mental retardation and related developmental disabilities and their families. It is devoted to promoting and improving support and services for people with mental retardation and their families. The association also fosters research and education regarding the prevention of mental retardation in infants and young children.
  • ACE Net - American Council on Education
  • Adaptive Technology Resource Center - Based at the University of Toronto, the Centre works with children and adults with disabilities, their families, teachers, counselors, and employers by conducting research and identifying and evaluating technologies that assist those with disabilities.
  • American Association of Mental Retardation - AAMR was founded in 1876. Since 1876, AAMR has been providing leadership in the field of mental retardation. AAMR is the oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization of professionals (and others) concerned about mental retardation and related disabilities.
  • Association of Regional Center Agencies (ARCA) - ARCA
  • Beach Center on Disability - Affiliated with the Special Education Department of the University of Kansas, this site contains research briefs, disability and family studies, information on support organizations, and links to other relevant sites.
  • Best Buddies - Best Buddies is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integrated employment.
  • Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies - Internationally recognized source of quality information about behavior
  • CEC - Council for Exceptional Children - Council for Exceptional Children
  • CHADD: Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder - Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) is a national non-profit organization founded in 1987 in response to the frustration and sense of isolation experienced by parents and their children with AD/HD.
  • Comfort Connection - For families of children with special needs, a place for parents to come and make that much-needed connection with other parents who are involved in the enormous task of caring for a child who is born medically at risk or with a disability. Please stop by and visit our new location in Santa Ana where we have books, videos, and resource materials that are sure to interest you! All of the staff at the Center are parents of children with special needs. We are available to provide understanding, emotional support, and an opportunity to talk with someone who has experienced the joys and challenges of raising a child with special needs. Our services complement the role of professionals by offering this unique assistance.
  • COPAA - Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
  • EdSource Online - California Educational Policy Issues and Resources
  • ERIC: Educational Resources Information Center - ERIC is an acronym for the Educational Resources Information Center. The ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education (ERIC EC) is one of 16 federally funded clearinghouses in the ERIC system, a nationwide information network sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES).
  • Federal Interagency Coordinating Council - The FICC is an advising body to cabinet secretaries from the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Defense, and the Interior, as well as to the commissioner of the Social Security Administration. It makes recommendations to the federal agencies working to improve opportunities to children with disabilities, including suggestions to eliminate barriers to interagency programs. The FICC serves as the mechanism to facilitate coordination of federal resources to ensure that young children (birth to age 5) with, or at risk for, disabilities and their families get the early intervention and preschool services and supports that they need.
  • Federal Resource Center for Special Education - The Federal Resource Center for Special Education (FRC) is a five-year contract between the Academy for Educational Development (AED), its partner, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), and the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.
  • The IDEA Partnerships - This Web site is brought to you by ASPIIRE (service providers) and ILIAD (administrators), who represent two of the four IDEA Partnerships. The IDEA Partnerships are four national projects funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) to deliver a common message about the landmark 1997 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The IDEA Partnerships, working together for five years, inform professionals, families, and the public about IDEA '97 and strategies to improve educational results for children and youth with disabilities.
  • Learning Disabilities Online - LD OnLine is a service of The Learning Project at WETA, Washington, D.C., in association with The Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities.
  • National Network for Childcare - INFORMATION - an Internet source of over 1000 publications and resources related to childcare. Publications are research-based and reviewed. KIDCARE - an e-mail listserve - providing a way to communicate nationally and internationally with others who care about children and childcare. PERSON-TO-PERSON - support and assistance from experts in childcare and child development. Extension staff at each state's land grant university who are working in the area of children and youth are identified. CONNECTIONS NEWSLETTERS - issued four times a year for family childcare, center-based care, and school-age child care. NNCC unites the expertise of many of the nation's leading universities through the outreach system of Cooperative Extension. Our goal is to share knowledge about children and childcare from the vast resources of the land-grant universities with parents, professionals, practitioners, and the general public.
  • Orange County Department of Education - OC Dept. of Ed.
  • Orange County Schools - List of schools in Orange County
  • Our Children Left Behind - Advocacy information on current reauthorization action pending in congress.
  • Regional Center of Orange County Home Page - RCOC-Regional Center of Orange County
  • SmarterKids.Com - SmarterKids.com's mission is to help children learn, discover, and grow. We treat every child as an individual who has specific learning needs, goals, and styles. This individualized, one-size-does-not-fit-all approach to kids and education infuses everything we do, especially the products, information, and tools we offer parents, grandparents, and gift-givers.
  • Wrightslaw.com

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