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2016 Webinar Series
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COPAA 2016 Webinar (4 Live Series) *All Are Recorded

You may register for the entire series, select any individual sessions, OR take advantage of the cost savings and purchase an annual subscription for all live and archived webinars.

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Series 1: IEP's and Their Components, What You Should Know

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1.1  Autopsy of an IEP: Finding & Filling Holes to Obtain Educational Goals 

Date/Time: Thursday, 7/14/16, 2:00-3:15 ET

Presenters: Lisa Fagan, Esq.

One of the single most important documents a parent can help develop is their child’s individualized education program (IEP). However, often this document is a loosely written set of guidelines that does not fully convey a child’s needs. This session helps parents and advocates "dissect” an IEP by examining the sections of an IEP.  Participants discuss what each section means, why it is important and what specific information needs to be included. In addition, participants learn how to create IEPs that obtain educational goals for the individual child and allow anyone working with, supporting or providing services to the child to understand the child’s individual needs and goals just by reading the document.


1.2 Roadblocks to Getting a Truly Independent IEE 

Date/Time: Tuesday, 7/19/2016, 2:00-3:15 ET

Presenters: Tania Whiteleather, Esq. and Lisa  Peskay-Malmsten, Esq. 

Description:  LEAs are working hard to not only avoid their duties under IDEA regarding requested Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs), but are acting very creatively to avoid their duties. This presentation address court decisions regarding the timing of parent requests for IEEs and of LEA responses and of reasonable and unreasonable conditions placed on IEE requests and IEEs by LEAs. Parental participation in development of the IEP is essential to the IDEA. Winkelman v. Parma City School Dist. 550 U.S. 516, 524, 127 S.Ct. 1994(2007).

1.3 Bridges to Cross and Bridges to Burn: Using Transition Assessment Data 

Date/Time: Thursday, 7/21/16, 2:00-3:15 ET

Presenters: Ann Simun, PsyD. and Sandra Dixon, Advocate

Description:  "What do you want to be when you grow up?” As children mature, their answers evolve from the fantastic ("I want to be Batman!”) to the idealistic ("I want to be President”), and ultimately to the realistic ("I want to be an engineer.”) Daily experiences of success and failure come together until as young adults, increasingly aware of their own abilities and interests, they focus on achieving specific educational or vocational goals. For students with disabilities, the question becomes more fraught.  A lifetime of challenges interferes with students’ growing understanding of their own strengths and abilities. What is an appropriate Transition Assessment?  Which tools, strategies, and methods are "age appropriate”, and will these provide the data needed to create meaningful educational and vocational plans?  What about students who graduate "on time” with a regular diploma?  An Advocate and Psychologist discuss legal requirements, methods of assessment, and how use data to create and monitor transition plans.

1.4 Beyond ABC’s: Obtaining & Using Effective Positive Behavior Support

Date/Time: RESCHEDULED DATE: 8/30/16, 2:00-3:15 ET

Presenter: Felicia Hurewitz, Ph.D., BCBA Director and Jennifer Sang, Esq

Description:  While there is extensive research supporting the use of quality Positive Behavior Support Plans (PBSP) to effect behavior change, few public schools are creating and implementing these plans using evidence-based protocols. Furthermore, the range of when and how PBSP's can be used is often restricted to extinguishing targeted behaviors of concern, without consideration of the corresponding requirement to increase pro-social replacement behaviors. This session describe the principles underlying positive behavior support and behavioral assessment beyond the standard ABC (Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence) format and examines common legal issues concerning exhibition of challenging behavior, from red flags and questions to ask at the IEP stage, to strategy for litigation when the primary issue is challenging or inappropriate behavior. 

1.5 IEP and Inclusion: Full participation through IEP Process

Date/Time: Wednesday, 8/3/16 2:00-3:15 ET

Presenters: Selene Almazan, Esq.

Description: The IEP process is both sequential and cyclical.  The IEP meeting is the forum for the team members to communicate and decide together the composition and dimension of the student’s educational program.  The IDEA strongly promotes collaboration among parents and educators and other service providers in planning and making decisions affecting the student’s educational program and expects that educators will provide accommodations to enable students to access the general education curriculum and make modifications to instruction or curriculum content to enable students to meet their unique goals in the context of a general education instruction.  The IDEA clearly specifies that a student may not be removed from the general education setting solely because of needed curriculum modifications.  It is the services, the supports, the accommodations, and the modifications that constitute the student’s individualized education program and, thus, the free appropriate public education to which a student is entitled.  (All Registrants for this series or this individual session will be mailed the book "IEP and Inclusion: Full Participation Through the IEP Process (MCIE, 2006).


Series 2: Access to FAPE

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2.1 It’s Called Child Find, Not "Child Wait”

Date/Time: Thursday, 8/11/16, 2:00-3:15 ET

Presenters: Sarah Florhe, Esq., Deborah Jacobson, Esq., and Kimberly Glassman, Esq. 

Description: This presentation provides the audience with a multiple jurisdiction perspective for an in-depth overview of advanced advocacy strategies for ensuring your school district has appropriate policies and procedures in place to find children who may be eligible for services. Information is provided for how to plead successful child find claims on cases for hard to find youth.  Participants leave this session with a clear understanding of the Child Find obligations; tools for identifying evidence and pleading strong allegations for failure to identify youth in due process hearings (and for advocacy in IEP meetings and other processes); and, information and examples of systemic advocacy done in different jurisdictions to improve overall Child Find practices. 

2.2 You Can't Make Me Go! Navigating the Legal Labyrinth of School Refusal  

Date/Time: Wednesday, 8/17/16, 2:00-3:15 ET

Presenters: Josh Kershenbaum, Esq. and Jason Fortenberry, Esq.

Description: When a child is unable or unwilling to attend school it poses uniquely difficult challenges to families and Districts alike. Excessive absenteeism is a significant concern for Districts because it can trigger Child Find, complicate eligibility determination and placement decisions and frustrate their ability to deliver services. In some cases, Districts have been required to fund residential placements (and to provide compensatory education and other relief) based on their failure to refer an excessively absent student for an evaluation or to address the absenteeism in an IEP. At the same time, ·excessive absenteeism wreaks havoc in the home forcing parents to choose between work and childcare and pitting parents against their children. This session provides practical and effective strategies for avoiding and breaking the educational and legal stalemates that so often arise in these exceptionally challenging cases. 

2.3 Educational Benefit Standards

Date/Time: Thursday. 8/25/16, 2:00-3:15 ET

Presenter: Judith Gran, Esq.

Description: For many years, parent attorneys and advocates have urged that the Rowley standard (that educational programs for students with disabilities must provide "more than a trivial educational benefit") is outdated and does not reflect the high expectations for students with disabilities that Congress articulated in the 1997 and 2004 amendments to IDEA. Courts have rejected this argument, noting that Congress did not explicitly override Rowley when it amended IDEA. This webinar offers an alternative approach to enforcing IDEA's substantive guarantees: Educational Benefit Review. This method, which is now used by several State Educational Agencies to monitor students' IEPs, enables advocates, hearing officers and judges to evaluate the quality of a student's program against explicit statutory requirements of IDEA that, collectively, must be met for a student to receive educational benefit. The webinar presents the case that Educational Benefit Review is a powerful tool that can help us avoid the perverse results of some recent cases.

2.4 But Her Grades are Fine: Proving Adverse Educational Performance 

Date/Time: Thursday, 9/1/16, 2:00-3:15 ET

Presenters: Charles Fox, Esq. and Julie Welsh, Esq.

Description:  This session explores the difficulties of proving adverse educational performance, especially for academically gifted, but emotionally disordered students; overachieving students; frequently absent students and "wallflowers.” A wide variety of case law and the minimal guidance from OSEP are reviewed, along with possible strategies for combatting school district tendencies to focus strictly on academics, using state school codes and Common Core Standards. This presentation intends to help parents and advocates overcome school districts’ tendencies to focus strictly on academic progress at the expense of educating and servicing students to become fully functional, emotionally stable, communicative adults. 


Series 3: Legal Issues

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3.1 Making a Federal Case of it Without Exhausting IDEA Remedies

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Date/Time: Tuesday, 9/13/16, 2:00-3:15 ET

Presenters: Catherine Reisman, Esq. and Sarah Zuba, Esq.

Description: Federal courts across the country are in flux over questions regarding whether district courts have the obligation – or even the authority – to hear certain disability rights claims asserted against educational defendants, even when those claims are grounded squarely on federal civil rights. Courts vary on the proper interpretation of Section 1415(l) of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), which provides that the procedures for impartial due process hearings under the IDEA must be exhausted before filing a civil action under "Federal laws protecting the rights of children with disabilities,” but only when the action seeks "relief that is also available” under the IDEA. This session canvasses the state of the law on exhaustion of remedies and federal jurisdiction over claims against local education agencies under Section 504, the ADA, and other laws, and explore arguments that will persuade Article III judges to hear and decide federal civil rights claims.

3.2 RTI Revisited: Common Problems and Solutions for Practice

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Date/Time: Wednesday, 9/21/16, 2:00-3:15 ET

Presenters: Matthew Cohen, Esq.

Description: Response to Intervention (RTI) is an educational strategy that was originally developed as a model to provide more systematic, research-based instruction within regular education to students that were suspected of having learning disabilities or that were at-risk academically. RTI is also known in many places by other names and the generic term used is multi-tier system of supports (MTSS) which is now defined in federal law under the most recent amendment of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015. RTI was incorporated into the 2004 amendment of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) as an option for serving these students prior to or as part of the process of evaluation.  RTI is often highly problematic in its implementation because there are no consistent guidelines or regulations for implementation.  Join Matt as he reviews a new position statement of COPAA on RTI and tips for practice. 

3.3 2015 Annual Case Law Review

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Date/Time:Tuesday, 9/27/16, 2:00-3:15 ET

Presenter: Judith Gran, Esq.

Description: In this annual training, Judith  provides an in-depth review of the year's most important federal cases and their outcomes. She has presented the Year in Review for the Court of Appeals for COPAA each year, starting with the very first COPAA Conference.  Since her graduation from Temple Law School in 1983, Attorney Gran has represented children and adults with disabilities in fifteen states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Ms. Gran has brought a number of class action and system change lawsuits designed to improve special education and community services and secure the right of persons with disabilities to inclusion and full participation in schools and communities. Many of her cases have resulted in the closure of state institutions and the creation of high-quality community services for former institutional residents. These cases include the landmark class action case, Halderman v. Pennhurst, in which Ms. Gran served as lead counsel for the Arc of Pennsylvania during the last twelve years of implementation. As a result, Ms. Gran played a major role in improving community services for individuals with disabilities nationwide. Prior to joining Freeman Reisman Carolla Gran LLP, she worked for 25 years at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, the last 11 years as Director of its Disability Law Project. Ms. Gran is also one of the founding members of COPAA and a former Board Chair.

3.4 The Judge Said What?! How to Handle Appeals

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Date/Time: Tuesday, 10/11/16, 2:00-3:15 ET

Presenters: Catherine Reisman, Esq. and Alexis Casillas, Esq.

Description: There is nothing more irritating than getting a decision against you after a well-fought administrative hearing. Except maybe having your win challenged by a school district. This session is intended to help attorneys understand the standards for challenging or defending an administrative decision in the United States District Court, or into the Circuit Court of Appeals. 


Series 4: Strategies to Address Educational Disparity Based on Disability, Race and Income

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4.1 Make Your practice Thrive Serving Low & Moderate Income Families 

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Date/Time: Tuesday, 10/4/16, 2:00-3:15

Presenters: Andrew Cuddy, Esq. and Michael O'Connor, Esq. 

Description: Many special education firms struggle financially and many attorneys are reluctant to enter this field of practice. The presenters offer their experience in relying on the fee-shifting provision of the IDEA to build a robust and effective practice by emphasizing representation of low and moderate income clients.  Perhaps the most critical element of a business model that relies of the fee-shifting provision of the IDEA is the attorney/client relationship established by the engagement letter (retainer agreement). The attendees will be provided ethical guidance and sample language to be used in defining the terms of this relationship. 

4.2 The Promise of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to Address Disparity in Discipline and Restraint/Seclusion Use

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Date/Time: Tuesday, 10/18/15, 2:00-3:15 ET

Presenter: Denise Stile Marshall, M.S., COPAA Executive Director, and Laura Kaloi, Esq. 

Description: Laura Kaloi, Washington Partners, LLC, Denise Marshall, COPAA Exec Director, and Dignity in Schools Campaign (Invited) The Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) has revealed that schools employ discipline practices and policies that disproportionately impact students with disabilities. Despite a sharp decline overall, disparities by race and disability are deep and persistent. Research makes clear that suspension does grave harm to student outcomes, and in fact, states with the highest rates of secondary level suspension have some of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country (Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, and South Carolina). As the U.S. Department of Education, states education agencies, local school districts and other stakeholders conceptualize and implement a new accountability framework under the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act,  COPAA and others strongly urge that states use discipline as an additional indicator(s) of school quality or student success. CDRC data also shows that students with disabilities and students of color state plans must now include how the State will provide resources and guidance, professional development, and technical assistance to reduce techniques, strategies, interventions, and policies that compromise the health and safety of students, such as seclusion and restraint. Join us to learn more about the new requirements under ESSA and what needs to be done to address this disparate treatment.

4.3 Challenging Racial Disparities in Special Education  

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Date/Time: Tuesday, 10/25/16, 2:00-3:15 ET

Presenter: Gloria Perez-Stewart, Advocate and David Jefferson, Advocate

Description: This session explores how disproportionalilty affects students of color, and how racial disparities within special education are part of a larger system that unfairly targets this population and prevents access to an equal education. This session includes a historical perspective on (the lack of) racial justice within our special education system, and provides strategies on how advocates and attorneys can use this knowledge to affect long term systemic change beyond individual clients.

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