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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dubious Special Ed "Lawyer"

It is tough enough to contend with mediation and due process. Just imagine finding out that your lawyer is not what he seems. As the Washington Post reports, that's what happened to some DC area special-ed parents.

Into this close-knit world entered Howard D. Deiner, 53. He worked his way into the inner circle by listing himself as a lawyer on a number of Web sites that cater to special education parents, operating in the legal niche for families wanting to challenge the way public schools educate -- or fail to educate -- their children.

But Deiner wasn't licensed as a lawyer for much of the time he took those cases, according to court records, and to bypass that issue he allegedly once signed another lawyer's name on important documents. He lost several cases at a point in the special education process that is the bleakest and the most critical for parents.


Some associations wouldn't delete Deiner's name from their listings until Pete Wright, a nationally known special education consultant and lawyer who created the "Wrightslaw" Web site,, pressured them to do so after confronting Deiner.

"That someone would falsely hold themselves out as a lawyer to parents of children with a disability, that is about as bad as it gets," Wright said. "To put this on these parents, how self-centered can somebody be?"

Deiner remains listed on at least two Web sites for families with autism as a lawyer who might be consulted for help with school problems.