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The Case About Amy

Robert C. Smith

Publication Year: 1996

Published by: Temple University Press


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pp. vii-ix

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Foreword by Frank G. Bowe

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pp. xi-xii

Since the passage in 1975 of what is now the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) , a number of important judicial interpretations of this landmark special education law have been issued. The first case to reach the United States Supreme Court, and the most important one, was the 1982 Board of Education, Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

I owe a debt to Robert Taggart, head of the Office of Youth Programs for the U.S. Department of Labor in 1979 for first exposing me to problems of individuals with disabilities by persuading me in 1979 to write the monograph that became Seven Special Kids. I probably would not have taken up work on this book in 1984 without...

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Legal Chronology

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pp. xv-xvii

April 1977 Parents of Amy Rowley file complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare charging discrimination on the part of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District against their deaf daughter, Amy, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Rowleys seek a sign language interpreter for Amy's...

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1. Time Tears Us Apart

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pp. 1-10

Amy thought Ashokan was the most beautiful place she had ever seen. The woods were deep and secret and the hills were for climbing. Morning and afternoon, the campers followed the trails to blacksmithing and broommaking and to the pond, where they found insects in leaflike homes, baby dragonflies, and newts. They went fishing with live worms for bait, using...

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2. The Battle Joined

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pp. 11-39

Nancy Rowley first approached Furnace Woods Elementary School Principal Joseph Zavarella in the spring of 1976, almost eighteen months before Amy would be ready to enroll in kindergarten. In a letter to Assistant Superintendent of Schools Charles Eible, dated April 26, she described Zavarella as being cooperative, understanding, and willing to help.

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3. Like Light Pouring Down over Me

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pp. 40-62

I am trying to talk Amy into talking to me. Amy is listening, reacting or not reacting, depending on the subject. She is at least trying now, not evasive as she was on our first meeting a year and a half ago. But it does not come easily. She will answer direct, highly specific questions as best she can, but ifI am not referring to a specific event that she remembers, she is...

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4. Vindication by Trial

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pp. 63-91

On the morning of September 26,1979, Ann Barbara Kligerman, chief of audiology for the Westchester County Medical Center, got up and, in accordance with a carefully thought-out decision, put on her blue cotton suit, a straight skirt and short-sleeved jacket, over a pin-striped red, white, and blue blouse-a decidedly tailored outfit. It was important to look professional...

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5. A Case about Amy

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pp. 92-113

In the aftermath of Judge Broderick's order and opinion, Charles Eible, a quick-smiling, affable man who had succeeded to the post of superintendent of schools, became chief spokesperson for the Hendrick Hudson Central School District as the local press began to follow the Rowley case. Eible told the Peekskill Evening Star that both the district and the state boards of...

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6. A "Voice" in the Classroom

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pp. 114-125

The Rowleys thought that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision was well timed, given that Amy had already been through another school year without a sign language interpreter. Coming in mid-July, the decision meant, to them, that Amy would have her interpreter by the start of school, when she would be in the third grade. Their attorney, Michael Chatoff,...

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7. "Full Potential" in the Court

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pp. 126-167

With the decision of the three-judge circuit court favoring the Rowleys and the strong dissent of Judge Mansfield, the case had begun to attract the attention of the major media. Two days after the decision was announced, the New York Times carried a lead editorial with the arresting title, "Going Wrong with Handicapped Rights." It was a curious editorial, which did not...

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8. Maybe It Wouldn't Happen Today

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pp. 168-181

When I began my search, years afterward, for the people I needed to help unravel what was still, to me, the mystery of the Rowley case, I found that I had quite a list of "missing persons," people who had moved and might be difficult to locate. But fortunately, many of the major actors in the drama were still clustered in the network of old villages on the Hudson-...

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9. What Amy Hears

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pp. 182-197

At age twenty, already a sturdy young man, Jimmy Walcott finished high school in Charlotte, North Carolina. The school gave him a certificate saying that he had completed twelve years of public education. His reading skills were at second-, possibly third-grade level. His math skills were closer to first- or second-grade levels. His comprehension, when he paid attention,...

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10. A Matter of Growth

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pp. 198-219

I had Judge Walter Mansfield on my list of prospective interviewees but before I could call him he died, in 1987. Three years later, I decided to track down what I could about the judge through his law clerk. That call led to others. Everybody was friendly and helpful and I found myself learning a little about a man highly admired by many, including Judge Vincent Broderick,...

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11. Amy in Oz

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pp. 220-228

Robert Coultas was having second thoughts, and they were all doubts. His first thought had been one of those midnight lightning ideas that now seemed to be evanescing under the weight of day. How could he have thought that a deaf teenager could be the answer to his local Rotary International's quest for "special" young people to bring into their international...

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12. Equal Opportunity Writ Large

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pp. 229-239

In his law offices, former Senator Charles McC. Mathias of Maryland talked about his boyhood in the Monocacy River town of Frederick, the home of patriot Barbara Frietchie and once a settlers' stop on the road to the Ohio Valley. Around the dinner table in the Mathias home, the conversation was often about civic and school affairs and the dominant educational...

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13. Is It Really Money?

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pp. 240-259

In an effort to understand better the thinking of key media writers about Rowley at critical times in the history of the case, I decided to begin by looking up Roger Starr. His article, 'Wheels of Misfortune," in Harper's magazine in January 1982, had taken the position, just two months before the Supreme Court hearing, that individuals with disabilities had no special...

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14. Amy Remembering

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pp. 260-268

Early one summer day in 1991, over the TTY, Amy said she had a proposition for me. I should come up to visit her parents in Mountain Lakes, we would all drive up to Croton to visit our mutual friends, Charles and Helen Brooks, and Amy and I would spend a morning walking through Furnace Woods Elementary School slowly, classroom by classroom. Amy would...

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15. Not Quite Human

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pp. 269-281

What I remember most about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, besides that unforgettable voice over the radio, was the boy's-eye view of him I had in the Fox Movietone News segments with Saturday afternoon movie double-features. I remember the toothy smile and the expansive wave and the businesslike fedora and the glasses glinting in the sun, and I am sure...

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16. Struggling and Succeeding

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pp. 282-291

Of all the public schools I had seen that had done good work with children with disabilities, one stuck in my mind, because it had received no foundation grants and was included in no nationally touted educational programs. It was Public School 213 in Bayside, New York, which I had visited back...

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17. If Heaven Isn't Accessible, God Is in Trouble

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pp. 292-301

Two stories in one day's worth of newspapers fixed my mind on the steep, stony road we have had to climb even to be as far along as we are today in our attitudes toward individuals with disabilities. The first news story was about a deaf, ninety-five-year-old African American named Junius Wilson who had had the bad luck to be arrested on an attempted rape charge back...

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18. To Be Who We Are

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pp. 302-313

For Michael Pierschalla, there have been two great blessings. The first occurred when he could hear his own voice and the voices of others again; the second, when he could, at last, hear music again. It is not quite what it used to be when he was a nineteen-year-old playing guitar in his garage and listening to Eric Clapton and Aretha Franklin, but music once again moves...


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pp. 315-322

E-ISBN-13: 9781439905319

Publication Year: 1996