Conference will educate on special education

An important conference is coming to Wilton for everyone who has been impacted by special education.

Advocate with Faith LLC, a private educational advocacy firm led by Gloria Bass and Faith Filiault, both of Wilton, will present the area’s only Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy conference.

The event will be held on Thursday, Oct. 17, from 9 to 4:30 at WEPCO, 48 New Canaan Road.

The featured speaker will be Pete Wright, an attorney who represents children with special attention needs. He and his wife, Pam, a psychotherapist, founded Wrightslaw in 1993.

“I decided that it was time for him to come back,” Ms. Filiault said, regarding Mr. Wright’s appearance in Wilton. “It had been a few years. We are trying to attract families in the Fairfield County area for parents to know what their children’s rights are.”

Wrightslaw got its start after Mr. Wright argued for the case of Shannon Carter in her case against Florence County District IV in South Carolina. Shannon was a 15-year-old student struggling with dyslexia and ADHD. The school district considered her to be a slow learner. However, she had an above-average IQ. In the summer of 1985, her dyslexia was diagnosed with the solution being that she needed a self-contained classroom. The school district refused.

Mr. Wright argued the case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993, and won on a unanimous decision. The case was considered a landmark decision for parents of handicapped children.

Mr. Wright has become an advocate and expert on special education needs. The Shannon Carter case touched home for him, as he also dealt with learning disabilities, including dyslexia.

He has co-authored several books, including Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, which is now in its second edition.

The Wilton conference this month has been well received, said Ms. Filiault, but she’s intrigued by how many of the attendees are from outside the Fairfield County area.

“We have people coming from California, and Oklahoma … all over the U.S.,” she said. “Most people attending are from New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. I’d really like to see more people from Wilton there.

“This is information that every parent with a special needs child needs to know. They’re going to learn things they need to know for when their child is done with school.”

Of great concern to her is the lack of school administrators who are planning to attend.

“There is not one school sending someone to attend it,” she said. “This is for educators also. This is for teachers, parents, everyone. I would love to see the local schools send an administrator.”

Ask her why she is an advocate and what made her want to bring Pete Wright to Wilton, and she looks back.

“When I lived in New Hampshire, I attended one of his speeches in Massachusetts,” she said. “The knowledge that I left with was amazing. I left with so much information. It was so beneficial and so helpful to leave just so empowered.

“The way he presents it is so easy to follow and understand. It was an epiphany.”

Ms. Filiault said the main conference room is sold out for Mr. Wright’s conference, but a second room is open that will show a live feed of the event.

In her press release, Ms. Filiault said the “conference topics will be geared towards parents and will include special education law, rights and responsibilities, tests and measurements to measure progress and regression.”

All attendees will receive three Wrightslaw books, while those in the main conference room will be treated to continental breakfast, lunch and a snack.

More details, including admission prices, about the conference, one of only two being held on the East Coast before the end of 2013, are available at

Ms. Filiault said the conference will give attendees advice and tools that will help them navigate the world of special education law.

“I’d like to state how important this is, no matter how great the schools are,” she said. “They shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to have this knowledge.”