Group Info

A STUDY GROUP for Special Education Parents and Care Providers 
From Emotions to Advocacy (FETA)

Learn to be an effective advocate for your child.


This group is open to parents and other careg providers who have an interest in helping children who receive special education. As parents, we represent our child’s interests. When we negotiate with the school on our child’s behalf, we increase the odds that our child will get a fair and appropriate education (FAPE). This can be a frustrating ordeal for many of us at times. Some parents give up. Some prevail. What do effective parent advocates know? What are their secrets? Effective advocacy comes from research, planning and preparation. Networking with others who are going through similar issues can provide strength, support, and hope.

Together as a group, we will be discussing ideas and meanings in the special education advocacy book From Emotions to Advocacy (FETA), The Special Education Survival Guide, written by the founders of the Wrightslaw Website, Peter W. D. Wright, Esq., and Pamela Darr Wright, MA, MSW  (ISBN: 978-1-892320-09-4, 338 pages).

We will be referencing the FETA companion website: Discussing strategies within a group helps to introduce new interpretations and understandings that you wouldn't get alone. There are other support groups around the country. In fact, that is where this idea came from, the Wrightslaw blog: "What Can One Person Do, You Ask? Start a FETA Study Group"  .

Excerpts from the FETA book have been paraphrased briefly:  Many parents want to advocate for their child but hold back. If you want, need, or believe you need to advocate or need to advocate for your child but have excuses or reasons why you cannot, this book is for you.

You can learn to attack obstacles and gain the skills you need to be an effective advocate for your child. This book teaches information and skills step-by-step. As you complete each step, you will acquire information and polish skills that you will use later. In the beginning, the process of advocating for your child will feel overwhelming. This is normal.

If you follow this program, you will learn how to organize, plan, and use your emotions to become and effective advocate for your child. You will not regret your journey from emotions to advocacy. Because of you, your child’s life will change for the better (FETA. P. xv).

Information in this book:
  • Sample Letters & Logs
  • Checklists and Forms
  • Worksheets and Agendas
  • Companion website at

Learn to:
  • Develop a master plan for your child's special education
  • Organize your child's file
  • Work with consultants and evaluators
  • Write SMART IEP goals and objectives
  • Use test scores to monitor your child's progress
  • Resolve parent-school conflict early
  • Write effective letters and create paper trails
  • Use parent agendas to improve meeting outcomes


Study group will be self-sustaining, and each group elects or preferably rotates a facilitator. There are no public or private sponsors. It is a safe and free environment to speak freely and share ideas. Some groups select passages of a chosen book for participants to read in advance of coming to a meeting to discuss together. Another helpful method is to have one participant select a short (often just a 2-3 sentence section of a book) as a spring board for discussion. Study questions have been developed for personal use if the group should choose to use them. Note: Facilitators should never be construed as teachers and should limit their involvement in accordance with the above. Wrightslaw, Pam Wright, or Pete Wright have not trained or authorized anyone to be a teacher of their work.

Meeting Frequency:
This depends on the level of interest among group participants. Popular meeting times and frequencies are monthly for a period of 1.5 hours.

No charge or fee is required for meetings, aside from optional donations towards meeting related expenses, such as renting a facility, etc. Members are responsible for purchasing their own text.

Group meets at Arthur F. Turner Community Library in West Sacramento, CA and Starbucks on Alhambra Blvd. at N Street, Sacramento, CA. Online formats are also considered (e.g., Google Groups, Google Hangouts, Linkedin, Facebook).

We are on Facebook:


Using the framework on Wrightslaw’s companion website:, the group will explore the book, section-by-section. The facilitator of the meeting will lead the group through a set of discussion questions and exercises or group members will select a section of the book to discuss.


Section One: Getting Started

In "Getting Started," you will learn:
• Basic advocacy skills
• Supplies you need to get started
• How to develop a master plan for your child’s education
• How to act as your child’s special education project manager

Section Two: Advocacy 101
In "Advocacy 101," you will learn about:

• Schools as bureaucracies and the rules of the game
• Obstacles to success – school culture, myths, gatekeepers, and emotions
• Common causes of conflict
• Steps you can take to prevent or resolve problems
• Events that trigger parent-school crises

Section Three: The Parent as Expert
In "The Parent as Expert," you will learn:

• Why you must become an expert about your child’s disability and educational needs
• How to organize your child’s file, step by step
• How to use information from evaluations to understand your child’s disability
• How to use test scores to monitor and measure your child’s progress
• How to write SMART IEP goals and objectives

 Section Four: Special Education Law
In "Special Education Law," you will learn about:

• The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
• Findings and purposes of the IDEA
• Definitions in the IDEA
• Extended school year (ESY), child find, least restrictive environment (LRE), private placements, statewide assessments
• Requirements for identifying children with specific learning disabilities - Discrepancy Formulas and Response to Intervention (RTI)
• Evaluations, eligibility, IEPs, and placement
• Prior written notice, procedural safeguards, mediation, due process hearings, appeals, discipline, and age of majority
• Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
• The No Child Left Behind Act and implications for children with disabilities

Section Five: Tactics and Strategies
In "Tactics and Strategies," you will learn about:

• “The Rules of Adverse Assumptions” importance of first impressions, image and presentation
• How to use logs, calendars, and journals to create paper trails
• How to write effective letters (includes sample letters)
• How to write a persuasive “Letter to the Stranger” (includes sample letters)
• How to use IEP worksheets, parent agendas, visual aids & graphs of progress or lack of progress
• Roles of experts; how to use an expert to help develop an appropriate educational program
• Pros and cons of recording meetings

This is a local group in Sacramento, but parents and care providers from all areas are welcome. Please join us…together, we can make a difference!

Start your own group too! We can share resources.
Contact Angie with questions. corngie | at | gmail | dot | com.