Illinois Association of Administrators of Special Education (IAASE) threatens 'copyright infringement' lawsuit in order to shut down criticism of the group's position on current special education legislation in Springfield...
Once again a powerful group is attempting to utilize a claim about federal copyright law to stifle a full debate over public education policy in Illinois. Since the beginning of April, the Illinois Association of Administrators of Special Education (IAASA) has threatened to sue long time activist Bev Johns for supposed "copyright infringement." The threat was made by lawyers claiming to represent the group after she published an IAASA email to her as part of her critique of the current attacks on special education services in Illinois public schools.
Here is part of what Bev Johns has reported to readers via the Internet....
ATTACKS FROM IAASE ON MY ACTIONS CONTINUE...Now threaten seeking damages up to $150,000
When the President of the special ed administrators (IAASE) wrote a cover letter entitled "Ensuring Ethical Conduct" that was a thinly veiled attack on me and my conduct, I copied that letter in full and told administrators all over Illinois why the letter was false and incorrect.
As a Member of IAASE for almost 40 years, I did not selectively quote from the IAASE President, but instead copied every word she said.
Now I have received a letter from an Illinois law firm stating my action could be subject to statutory damages up to $150,000 for copyright infringement.
Well, let's see. The president of a group of which I am a long-standing member writes about me and what I am doing, and I cannot copy that letter and rebut it?
Even more bizarrely, the April 10, 2017, email letter from the Illinois law firm claims to know nothing about ISELA, the Illinois special education coalition.
The law firm claims that IAASE did not start ISELA, was never connected to ISELA, and did not Chair ISELA until I was elected Chair.
I have been asked: What can we do to help you in this situation? I reply: HELP TO DEFEAT ILLINOIS HOUSE BILL 2808 AND SENATE BILL 1, AS AMENDED, UNLESS AND UNTIL DIRECT AND DEDICATED FUNDING FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHERS REMAINS IN ILLINOIS LAW. Here was my response to the IAASE law firm's letter:
As a Member of IAASE for almost 40 years, I did not selectively quote from the IAASE President, but instead responded to an article written about me.
I believe that I had every right to do so.
Assuming that no further articles are written about me, I will not be further incorporating such articles.
As to ISELA, it is unfortunate that the current leadership of IAASE is unaware of its history.
Because of that history, when I was first elected Chair, IAASE made me a Member of the IAASE Board.
But eventually the educational policy differences that are so evident now in current proposed legislation caused IAASE to withdraw its membership in ISELA.
Beverley Holden Johns