School Lawyers

Due Process Breakdown: School Division Lawyer’s Opening Statements, John Cafferky 9.30.20

Thank you to everyone who shared and who reached out to me about the recent article “Second Virginia Hearing Officer Rules Reading Program Inappropriate for Student with Dyslexia”.

Today’s article shares more information about how that hearing played out, starting with the opening remarks presented by Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) counsel John Cafferky of Blankingship & Keith.

John presented his opening statements September 30, 2020, the first day of the due process hearing filed against FCPS.

Among other things, the hearing focused on whether the program “Just Words”, which FCPS proposed four school years in a row for the student who was the focus of the hearing, is appropriate for a student who has Dyslexia.

Why did HO Morgan Brooke-Devlin Work Out of the Office of Blankingship & Keith During a Due Process Hearing?

Due Process Hearings are supposed to be impartial—at least that’s what federal regulations state (See §300.511).

Does the Following Smell Neutral?

Virginia Hearing Officer Morgan Brooke-Devlin worked in a Blankingship & Keith office during a due process hearing for which she was assigned to be the hearing officer.

In addition to its lawyers being bcc’d on e-mails from teachers to students, Blankingship & Keith lawyers, among other things, represent school divisions during due process hearings.

FCPS Lawyer bcc’d on Student’s Emails; Claims He is a School Official; Says it’s “Appropriate” for Him to Have Access

Earlier this month, Special Education Action reported that Blankingship & Keith lawyer Wesley Allen and/or both Allen and his colleague John Cafferky were bcc’d on about three dozen emails between a teacher and student, as well as on emails between Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) staff and the students’ parents, spanning a period of over a year.

In a recent meeting, the parents and their advocate brought the bccing practice to the attention of a due process hearing officer.

The hearing officer, in turn, asked Allen, who was attending the meeting, too:

“What’s your authority Mr. Allen?”