At the Special Education Law and Advocacy Training Conference, held on Jan. 30 at William & Mary's Sadler Center, Dean Lynda Butler and Professor Patricia Roberts recognized Jeffrey Breit, Pamela Darr Wright, and Peter Wright for their contributions to the Law School's new Parents Engaged for Learning Equality (PELE) Initiative. The Initiative comprises the new Special Education Advocacy Clinic, directed by Roberts, and a new course on special education law and advocacy taught by the Wrights.
Butler credited Breit, the 2008-2009 St. George Tucker Adjunct Professor of Law and partner at Breit, Drescher, & Imprevento, as the catalyst for the Initiative and presented him with a crystal award commemorating his role. "It is Jeff's passion for this cause that moved Patty to start the clinic," Butler told the approximately 200 lawyers, educators, parents and students gathered for the conference. In addition, she said, his commitment to the Initiative led to its adoption as a service project by the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, and also sparked the financial support needed to get the clinic off the ground. "He is very persuasive," Butler said with a smile, before asking him to step forward to be recognized.
Roberts told the audience that Breit was responsible for convincing the Wrights, nationally recognized experts, to share their expertise with the Law School. She recalled that early in her discussions with Breit and the Wrights that they enthusiastically agreed that their goal was to train law students, "lots of them," to use the training they'd receive as students - and later as practicing lawyers - to help children with special needs. Roberts recalled Breit saying that "we want to make a sort of 'Wrightslaw Army.'" Roberts presented the Wrights with ballcaps and t-shirts emblazoned with the words "Wrightslaw Army," to remind them, she said, of how the Initiative started and to mark the start of the new Initiative at the Law School.
Editor's Note: The PELE Initiative will host a Parent Forum on Thursday, Feb. 26, from 6 to 7:30 PM in Room 119 to generate ideas about how the Initiative can best serve the special education community. The Initiative also will host an Educator Forum on Tuesday, March 24, from 5 to 6:30 PM in Room 127. For more information, contact (757)221-3780 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.