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BREAKOUT IV – SATURDAY, 3/10/18, 4:30 PM –5:45 PM
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4.1 Increasing Access to Special Education Advocacy-- How to Build and Maintain a Thriving Pro Bono Panel

Michele G. Scavongelli, Esq.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius EdLaw Fellow
The EdLaw Project
44 Bromfield Street, Second Floor
Boston, MA  02108
Office:  (617) 910-5845
Mobile:  (978) 505-1844
Fax: (978) 268-5145
Email: mscavongelli@publiccounsel.net

 

Erin O’Sullivan
The EdLaw Project
44 Bromfield Street, Second Floor
Boston, MA  02108
eosullivan@publiccounsel.net

 

Audience category: Attorney

Audience level of expertise: Intermediate 

 

Brief Session Description:

Low-income families cannot afford to pay privately to retain an attorney when their child is struggling in school.  One way that legal services agencies can increase support to greater numbers of families is through the recruitment of pro bono attorneys.  This session describes how to significantly expand the number of families served by building and maintaining a thriving pro bono panel made up of local law firm attorneys and in-house counsel. 

 

Presenter(s) Biography(ies):

Michele Scavongelli joined the EdLaw Project as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Bingham McCutchen, LLP in September 2012, and has continued on as a staff attorney through a Morgan, Lewis & Bockius Fellowship since September 2014. Michele has successfully represented well over one hundred families in the past five years in both school discipline and special education matters.  She has built a pro bono panel for The EdLaw Project and has trained hundreds of delinquency, child welfare, firm, and in-house counsel, as well as parent and community groups in special education advocacy and school discipline rights.  Michele graduated Northeastern University School of Law in 2012. During law school, Ms. Scavongelli was a recipient of a Rappaport Fellowship at the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate and a recipient of a Hennessey Fellowship at the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee. She interned at the Lowell Juvenile Court as well as at the law firm of Kotin, Crabtree & Strong, LLP with a particular focus on special education law. Ms. Scavongelli also assisted victims of domestic violence at the Dorchester and Roxbury Municipal Courts and at Boston Medical Center and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. She has served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and as a Special Education Surrogate Parent. Prior to attending law school she spent 29 years as an executive in the life insurance industry. She is on the board of Bottom Line, an organization that is dedicated to helping disadvantaged students get in to college, graduate from college, and go far in life. She earned her S.B. in Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1979.

 

Erin Hehn O’Sullivan started with the EdLaw Project in April 2017.  Prior to coming to EdLaw, Ms. O’Sullivan was a Staff Attorney at the Disability Law Center where she represented people with disabilities in a variety of matters but focusing on special education where she represented students and led trainings for attorneys, parents, doctors and other service providers.  She also conducted investigations of abuse and neglect of students with disabilities, and monitored community residences for clients of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS).  Prior to working at the Disability Law Center, Ms. O’Sullivan worked as a Trial Attorney at the Children and Family Law (CAFL) Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Worcester.  While at CAFL, she represented children and parents involved in the juvenile court either through the child welfare system or through Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) Petitions.  She currently serves on the Juvenile and Child Welfare Section Council with the Massachusetts Bar Association and is admitted to practice before the Federal District Court for the District of Massachusetts.  She earned her J.D. from Villanova University School of Law and her B.A. from College of the Holy Cross.



4.2 Building IEPs to Meet the Endrew Standard

Lisa A. Fagan, Esq.
Law Office of Lisa Fagan
1367 Rock Chapel Road
Herndon VA 20170
571-331-5626
fagan6@cox.net


Audience category: A
dvocate/Parent

Audience level of expertise: Novice/Intermediate

 

Brief Session Description:

This session informs parents and advocates on how to develop an analytical approach to drafting appropriately challenging IEP goals, determining the rate of skill acquisition for their child,  how to monitor progress and, if necessary, provide a basis for a claim against the LEA for failure to provide FAPE following the Endrew decision.

Presenter(s) Biography(ies):

Lisa Fagan is the owner of the Law Office of Lisa Fagan, and advises parents of children with disabilities on all matters relating to special education services. She represents clients in mediation, administrative hearings, due process and disciplinary hearings, and provides representation and counsel on matters relating to disability services and special needs planning. Ms. Fagan is a member of the Fairfax County Public Schools Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities and a Peer Reviewer with the U.S. Department of Education. She is a member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), and the Virginia State Bar. Ms. Fagan earned her B.A. degree from Allegheny College and her J.D. degree, cum laude, from Washington College of Law, The American University.



4.3 Full Inclusion: How to Fight for the LRE and What to do When You Get It

Amy Langerman
Law Offices of Amy G. Langerman
6215 Branting Street
San Diego, CA  92122
858-900-2360
alangermanlaw@aol.com
www.amylangerman.com

 

Audience category: All 

Audience level of expertise: All

 

Brief Session Description:

While the IDEA declares that children with disabilities be educated with non-disabled children to the maximum extent appropriate, schools pay lip service to this congressional mandate and continue to warehouse children in self- contained classrooms. This session will review the legal requirements for LRE, when you should fight for full inclusion, and how to make inclusive practices work.

 

 Presenter(s) Biography(ies):

Amy Langerman is an Arizona licensed attorney and California Special Education Consultant, and a parent of a college graduate (Phi Beta Kappa) with Aspergers in his second year of law school.  Amy spent the first 20 years of her career as a top civil litigator in Phoenix, Arizona, and had some of the largest employment discrimination and wrongful termination verdicts in Arizona history.  In Arizona, Amy was elected as the president of the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association and as Governor to the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and spent 12 years as a judge pro tem on the Maricopa County Superior Court bench.  In 1996, Amy handled her first due process case (as a parent). With no one in Arizona to help guide her, Amy reached out to those in California to teach her and thereafter paid it forward handling pro-bono due process litigation in Arizona for the next 6 years. After moving to California in 2002, Amy started her career over, walking away from her successful litigation practice and setting up shop as a special education consultant, serving families in San Diego County and helping with educational planning.  She consults with IEP teams, visits classrooms, researches curriculum all to support the families with whom she is consulting. Amy continues to travel back to Arizona to handle due process matters that cannot be amicably solved "at the table" and need to be litigated. She is still undefeated in all cases she has personally filed.  She continues to give back to parents, teaching regularly at workshops and conferences on all areas of special education (both law and practice) and is currently mentoring a new attorney in Arizona.



4.4 Trauma and Learning: Using Disability Law to Provide Equal Access to Education for Children who Have Experienced Trauma

Kathryn Eidmann
Public Counsel
610 South Ardmore Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Tel: (213) 385-2977 ext. 234
Fax: (213) 385-9089
keidmann@publiccounsel.org

 

Tara Ford
Stanford Law School, Mills Legal Clinic
Youth and Education Law Project
559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305
Tel: (650)725-8581
Fax: (650) 723-4426
taraford@law.stanford.edu

 

Audience category: Attorney/Advocate/Law Student

Audience level of expertise: Intermediate/Advanced 

 

 Brief Session Description:

Peter P. and Stephen C. are lawsuits that address the impact of trauma on learning. At the intersection of education rights, disability rights, and economic justice, these cases provide a productive model for those in other jurisdictions to ensure that all children, even those who have been disproportionately subject to violence and poverty, have meaningful access to education. 

 

Presenter(s) Biography(ies):

Kathryn Eidmann is a Supervising Senior Staff Attorney at Public Counsel, the nation’s largest pro bono law firm. As part of the Opportunity Under Law project, she brings impact litigation to advance economic justice and civil rights.  She has litigated major cases in the areas of education equity, children’s rights, gender discrimination, criminalization of poverty, and immigrants’ rights.  Her education equity class action cases on behalf of low-income children have included challenges to a school district’s failure to accommodate students who are impacted by exposure to trauma (Peter P. v. CUSD) and the federal government’s failure to provide basic education, special education, and mental health and wellness support to Native American students (Stephen C. v. BIE). In addition to her work at Public Counsel, Ms. Eidmann teaches gender discrimination law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law.  She is a frequent speaker on education equity and economic justice issues and her work has been covered by national and local news media. Ms. Eidmann is Vice President of the Board of Library Commissioners of the City of Los Angeles; serves on the board of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles; and was previously appointed to the Commission for Community and Family Services, advising the City of Los Angeles on issues of poverty and the needs of children, youth, and their families.  Prior to joining Public Counsel, Ms. Eidmann worked in private legal practice and as a law clerk for Judge Thomas B. Griffith of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School.

 

Tara Ford is the Clinical Supervising Attorney for the Youth and Education Law Project, a project of the Mills Legal Clinic, Stanford Law School.  Previously, Ms. Ford was the co-founder and Legal Director of Pegasus Legal Services for Children, a non-profit law firm serving children and their families in New Mexico.  Tara has been involved in children’s legal issues for over twenty years.  She has focused her career on issues impacting children, including special education, health care, mental health care, and child welfare. She has been recognized as a Child Welfare Law Specialist in New Mexico by the National Association for Children since 2006.  She is counsel on Stephen C. v. BIE, litigation which aims to ensure that students in Havasupai are provided with basic education, a system of special education, and mental health and wellness supports. 



4.5 Keeping the Wheels on the Bus

Charles P. Fox
Law Offices of Charles P. Fox
Attorney
355 W. Dundee Rd., Suite 209
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089
(847) 205-9897
cfoxatty@gmail.com

           

Julie Welsh
Law Offices of Charles P. Fox
Associate
355 W. Dundee Rd., Suite 209
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089
(847) 205-9897
juliewelsh@foxspecialedlaw.com

 

Audience category: All

Audience level of expertise: Novice/Intermediate 

 

Brief Session Description:

This session covers transportation basics- what districts are and are not required to provide for students with a variety of disabilities and circumstances.  Through an examination of case law and practice anecdotes, learn to be proactive at IEP meetings, rather than being reactive when things go wrong because accountability can be virtually nonexistent in this area of special education. 

 

Presenter(s) Biography(ies):

When Charlie Fox set his sights on becoming a lawyer, he never envisioned himself as a specialist in education law, supporting the needs and rights of children and young adults.  But, as a veteran special education attorney, Fox has found his path with the beacon light of his son Cole, now 25, guiding the way. The “catalyst and defining principle” for Fox when he entered special needs law was his then two-year-old son, who is diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy who needed an advocate.  Now considered “my hero” by Cole, Fox works to assure that his son and other children with special needs receive an appropriate public education.

 

Julie Welsh is a graduate of Loyola University of Chicago School of Law.  She has over a decade of experience working with special needs children and their families at Association House Legal Services, the Cook County Office of the Public Guardian and now with Charlie Fox.  She is happy to be part of the COPAA family.




4.6 Shutting Down the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Review of Individual & Systems-level Advocacy Approaches

Jennifer Coco
Southern Poverty Law Center
Senior Staff Attorney
1055 St. Charles Avenue, Suite 505
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 486-8982
Jennifer.coco@splcenter.org

 

Eden Heilman
Southern Poverty Law Center
Senior Supervising Attorney
1055 St. Charles Avenue, Suite 505
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 486-8982
eden.heilman@splcenter.org

 

Audience category: All 

Audience level of expertise: Novice/Intermediate 

 

Brief Session Description:

This session shares practical strategies for advocates to shut down the School-to-Prison Pipeline in their communities.  Individual and systems-level advocacy strategies, drawing primarily upon the IDEA, are discussed.

 

Presenter(s) Biography(ies):

Jennifer Coco is a Senior Staff Attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Louisiana office.  Jennifer has devoted her career to protecting the civil rights of vulnerable children in our public schools, including children with disabilities and Limited English Proficient children.  Jennifer’s span of work ranges from representing individual students, litigating cases in federal court, and advocating for policy changes at the local, state, and federal levels.  Prior to joining SPLC in 2012, Jennifer was an attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in Washington, D.C. Jennifer received her law degree from the DePaul University College of Law and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

 

Eden Heilman is a Senior Supervising Attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s office in New Orleans, Louisiana.  She works to ensure children’s access to public education and to reform ineffective school discipline practices that push children out of school and into juvenile and adult prisons.  Eden has presented at dozens of national conferences and has provided expert testimony about these issues, including testimony before the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. She has authored several publications on issues such as the exclusion of children with disabilities from public charter schools and the education system in post-Katrina New Orleans.  Prior to joining the Southern Poverty Law Center, Eden was an attorney for the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana (JJPL).  She received her law degree from Loyola University New Orleans School of Law, her master’s degree in social work from Tulane University School of Social Work, and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.

 



4.7 Chasing Outcomes, Giving Up Rights in the Name of Choice

Audience Category: All 

Audience level of expertise: All 

Brief Session Description: 

A vigorous debate has emerged on the use of educational vouchers and enrollment in charter schools to encourage greater choice to parents and students in public education service delivery.  There is passion on both sides of the debate and wide variance in experiences and outcomes of students with disabilities whose families make use of voucher programs or enroll them in charter schools in lieu of traditional public school. Often, however, students with disabilities and their families do not have access to schools of choice under Charter programs or have to give up IDEA rights to access voucher funds.  COPAA, under contract from the National Council on Disability, and in collaboration with the Center for Law and Education is conducting research to examine and analyze issues associated with the participation of students with disabilities in charter schools and voucher programs. In this session we discuss the overarching framework of the research, consisting of six broad areas to address separately the unique topics of charter schools and voucher programs. 

 

Presenter(s) Biography(ies):

Denise Marshall has been the Executive Director of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) since 2005. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Science in Applied Behavioral Science. Denise has 30 years’ experience in the field of disabilities in a variety of support, management, and advocacy capacities. She has a wealth of non-profit association management experience and is a dynamic trainer, experienced in leading sessions for participants of diverse abilities and experience levels. Prior to becoming the Executive Director of COPAA Denise was the Director of Training and Educational Outreach for the national organization TASH from 1995-2005, the Program Manager and trainer for Maryland Leaders in Disability Policy; and a Positive Behavior Support specialist and Director of the National Training Center for The Kennedy Krieger Institute in Maryland among other consulting and management positions.  Denise's specific areas of interest are civil right to quality education, positive behavioral supports, prevention and reduction in the use of restraints, seclusion and aversive techniques, family supports, grassroots advocacy, self-advocacy, and experiential learning.

 

Selene Almazan has been a member of COPAA since its inception in 1998.  Selene was on the Board of Directors from 2003-2014.  She has represented students and families for nearly 30 years.  Selene is a former Supervising Attorney for the Legal Aid Bureau of Maryland where she represented children in the foster care system, including representation in special education matters. For nearly 23 years, Selene represented parents in special education matters with a primary focus on least restrictive environment (LRE) issues at the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education.  Since September 2014, Selene has been the Legal Director for the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) where she supports the work of the Amicus Committee as well as works on federal and local policy issues.  Since May 2015 Selene maintains a private practice focusing on parent and student representation in special education matters, including LRE. She represents families at IEP team meetings, state complaint proceedings, mediations, due process hearings, suspension/expulsion proceedings and federal court proceedings, including matters involving violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. She has extensive experience training families, teachers, school administrators, attorneys and advocates on legal issues related to special education law as well as disability discrimination issues.  


4.8 Combating Implicit Racial Bias in Special Education 

Janeen Steel, Esq.
Learning Rights Law Center
Co-Executive Director & Co-Founder
Director, Litigation and Advocacy
205 S. Broadway Avenue, Suite 808
Los Angeles, CA 90012
213-489-4035
janeen@learningrights.org

 

Crystal White
Adjunct Teacher
Learning Rights Law Center
Co-Executive Director & Co-Founder
Director, Litigation and Advocacy
205 S. Broadway Avenue, Suite 808
Los Angeles, CA 90012

 

Audience category: All

Audience level of expertise: Intermediate

Brief Session Description:

Learn about emerging research on the role of implicit racial bias in special education and how advocates and attorneys can combat that bias in their existing practice. Attendees will also be introduced to the practices of cultural humility, research on the African American learner, and creative legal approaches to addressing implicit bias

 

Presenter(s) Biography(ies):

Janeen Steel earned her Juris Doctor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, where she received the UCLA La Raza Alumni Association Cesar Chavez Summer Fellowship to create the blueprint for her future – the Learning Rights Manual, an advocacy guide for families of students with disabilities. Janeen received an Echoing Green Fellowship, which allowed her to create the Learning Rights Project under the auspices of the Disability Rights Legal Center (at Loyola Law School), where she practiced for five years. In September 2005, she took the project independent and co-founded a new nonprofit, Learning Rights Law Center.

 

Janeen Steel was the founding Executive Director of Learning Rights Law Center from 2005-2012, overseeing and managing all aspects of the nonprofit, including supervision of attorneys, fundraising, marketing, finances and, board development as well as the direct representation of clients in federal civil rights actions and special education administrative hearings. Starting in 2012 she became the Co-Executive Director, where she oversees the organizations programs and supervises all aspects of Learning Right’s advocacy efforts, including supervising staff attorneys, directly representing clients, overseeing all programs and spearheading policy initiatives. Janeen makes time to teach others the importance of the rights of all children in the education system. She has been a Visiting Professor at some of California’s most prestigious law schools and regularly conducts workshops, trainings and seminars at community based organizations throughout Los Angeles County

Crystal White is an Adjunct Teacher for the Learning Rights Law Center in the Long Beach beginning TIGER program. She has been a full-time Special Education teacher in South Los Angeles for the last 6 years.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Southern California, she received her Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology from Argosy University, and a second Master’s Degree in Teacher Education with my Mild/Moderate and Moderate/Severe special education credentials.  In her spare time, she enjoys running, hiking and gardening.     


 

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