S. Mehfoud, Esq.
S. Mehfoud plays the school board attorney. Ms. Mehfoud is a partner
in the Richmond, Virginia office of the law firm of Reed
Smith LLP with a practice in education law and in special education
provides consultation services on a national basis and represents
a number of school boards. She lectures nationally on a frequent basis.
Additionally, Ms. Mehfoud serves on the School Attorneys Special Education
Advisory Council providing consultative services to LRP
A. Battin plays the role of paralegal for the school board attorney.
She is Executive Director of the Virginia
Coalition for Students with Disabilities Legal Advocacy Center.
Ms. Battin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master
of Public Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Tillar Mason, Esq.
Tillar Mason plays the hearing officer. She is founder of the Virginia
Coalition for Students with Disabilities Legal Advocacy Center,
a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the educational rights
of children with disabilities.
served as a hearing officer through the Virginia Supreme Court for
6 years and is active with the Virginia Women Attorneys Association.
She formerly served as Vice President of the State Board of Education.
Ms. Mason presents seminars on legal topics and has written numerous
articles on legal, ethical, and social issues.
Rhonda Smith plays the role of Ms. Jeffers, Stephen's mother.
Ms. Smith is a professional actor. She also works at the Virginia
Treatment Center for Children, a residential program for children
A close family member has autism.
l Hopkins plays the role of Mr. Jeffers. Mr. Hopkins is a veteran
Richmond actor and performance poet. As a founding member of Jazz
Actors Theatre he has toured throughout the country. He has starred
in independent films, national and regional advertisements, and various
roles in episodic television.
For the past ten years, Mr. Hopkins has worked with youth, helping
them to harness, hear and understand their individual artistic voices.
Peter W. D. Wright, Esq.
Wright plays the attorney who represented Stephen Jeffers and his
parents. Mr. Wright has represented children with disabilities and
their families for more than 30 years. In
1993, Mr. Wright gave oral argument before the United States Supreme
Court in Florence
County School District Four v. Shannon Carter, 510 U.S. 7 (1993).
The Court found for his client in a unanimous landmark decision.
and his wife Pam developed Wrightslaw
and have co-authored several best-selling special education and education
Special Education Law, 2nd Edition , Wrightslaw:
From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition and Wrightslaw:
No Child Left Behind.
at national conferences and continuing legal education seminars about
representing children with special educational needs. Pete and Pam
Wright also do training
programs in special education law and advocacy.
Darr Wright, MA, MSW
Wright is a psychotherapist who worked with children and families
for more than 30 years. Her training and experience in clinical psychology
and clinical social work give her a unique perspective on parent-child-school
dynamics, problems, and solutions.
Ms. Wright is the primary author of the Wrights best-selling
Special Education Law, 2nd Edition , Wrightslaw:
From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition and co-author of Wrightslaw:
No Child Left Behind. Ms. Wright is the managing editor of
The Special Ed Advocate
Hart plays the role of special education teacher. Ms. Hart has represented
parents and children in special education rights in her private practice
and as counsel for the Department
for Rights of Virginians with Disabilities (now the Virginia
Office for Protection and Advocacy). Before law school, Ms. Hart
worked as a special education teacher and was certified in learning
disabilities and emotional disturbances.
has been faculty for disability and special education presentations
for parents and teachers, the Virginia
Centers for Independent Living, and the National Attorney General
Civil Rights Conference.
England plays the role of occupational therapist. Ms. England served
as practitioner, educator and administrator in child welfare for nearly
twenty years before receiving her law degree in 1996. As a social
work practitioner, Ms. England provided family, individual and group
counseling to child victims of physical and sexual abuse and their
law practice is dedicated to representing children as a guardian ad
litem in custody, child protection, and delinquency hearings and special
education matters. She assisted the Virginia
Supreme Court with its implementation of Virginia's Court Improvement
Program. She continues to provide training to attorneys, judges, social
workers and CASA volunteers.
Higgins plays the role of special education director. Mr. Higgins
is engaged in the general practice of law in Virginia Beach. His interest
in special education law began with the birth of his youngest daughter
who has learning disabilities. Together with other Tidewater advocates,
he helped form an advocacy organization called P.I.E.R [Protecting
Individuals with Disabilities Education Rights] which is well-known
for its workshops, school board voter's guides, and training of parents.
Mr. Higgins has been involved with the Virginia
Coalition for Students with Disabilities in the review and public
comment on the Virginia special education regulations. Mr. Higgins
represents parents of students with disabilities in the Tidewater
Virginia area on matters involving their special needs children.
Donald Oswald, Ph.D.
Oswald plays the psychologist who evaluated Stephen Jeffers and observed
the programs at the public school and the Early School. Dr. Oswald
first worked with children with autism as a classroom teacher. Later
he was a program supervisor at a residential autism facility. He holds
a masters of education in school psychology and a Ph.D. in psychology.
Dr. Oswald is a professor and associate division chair for child psychology
in the Department of Psychiatry, and affiliate clinical professor
in the Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University.
He serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Child and Family
Studies and as consulting editor for Focus on Autism and Other
Developmental Disabilities. He has published on child development
and education topics. Dr. Oswald has testified about educational issues
and children with autism in special education due process hearings.
Hendricks plays the role of program specialist at The Early School.
real life, Ms. Hendricks is a program coordinator for The
Faison School for Autism, a private school for children with autism
that utilizes the principles of applied behavior analysis.
Ms. Hendricks taught in public schools from 1993 through 1999. She
has a Masters degree in special education. She has presented on autism,
applied behavior analysis in the classroom, building language repertoires,
and discrete trial instruction.
David plays the role of principal of The Early School. In real life,
Ms. David is the founder and former director of Northstar
Academy. a private special education school in Richmond, VA. She
has worked as an educational diagnostician, consultant, teacher, and
is a consultant in private school development and educational programs
for students with disabilities. She presents on learning disabilities,
non-verbal learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, advocacy,
and No Child Left Behind. Ms. David is actively involved with the
International Dyslexia Association, the National Council of Learning
Disabilities, the Autism Association of America, and the Association
of Instruction and Supervision.
Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board was directed
and filmed by V.A.V.S. Video Productions,
a team of specialists in producing educational video programs. They
enjoy creating educational media, documentaries and training materials
on issues that need more public awareness. They are devoted to
topics about the legal and educational issues surrounding people who
on the Case
Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers
v. School Board is based on an actual case. The parents prevailed at Due Process, lost at the U. S. District Court, and prevailed before the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
More about Surviving Due Process . . .
Meet the Cast
Copyright © 1999-2020, Peter W.
D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright.
All rights reserved.