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2019 Webinar Presenter's Biographies

Gretchen Adams is the owner of Ohio Special Education Advocacy and has over 8 years’ experience as a professional advocate for parents of children with special educational needs. She also has 11 years experience with a state of Ohio regulatory board and 3 years as a legal assistant in the local (Ohio) and federal court systems. Leveraging her unique skill set, professional development, and experiences has allowed her to provide professional advocacy services to families all over the state of Ohio. In addition to providing professional advocacy services, Gretchen also works as the Lead Teaching Assistant for COPAA’s Special Education Advocacy Training (SEAT) program. She designs and implements assignments for students to apply what they have learned to real world situations (e.g. 504 plans, IEPs, and evaluations).Gretchen is a member of the Council for Exceptional Children and COPAA.

Selene Almazan, Esq. works contractually as our Legal Director. Selene is also currently in private practice in Maryland. Selene has been a member of COPAA since its inception in 1998. Selene was on the Board of Directors from 2003-2014 and has contributed to COPAA as a volunteer in many substantial ways. Selene is a long time Co-Chair of the Amicus and Conference Committees. She led the Strategic Plan workgroup (2007) and the Litigation Workgroup (2012). As a member of the Board of Directors Selene has been Vice Chair, Chair, Treasurer and Secretary and a member of the Executive Committee since 2005. Selene has also been a trainer for COPAA Conference and webinars for a number of years beginning in 2004. As an Amicus member Selene has been involved in nearly every COPAA brief submitted, (and written at least three amicus briefs for COPAA in the 4th, 5th and 9th Circuits) as well as involved in a number of governmental affairs issues: the Reauthorization of 2004; Restraint Seclusion; ESEA (and its precursor NCLB); Charter Schools; Burden of Proof and expert witness fees. She is formerly the Director of Advocacy Services and Co-Executive Director of the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education (MCIE), a non-profit organization founded in 1989. For the last 20 years, Selene has represented parents in special education matters with a primary focus on least restrictive environment issues at the MCIE. As the Director of Advocacy Services, she directs the only legal services project devoted solely to the issue of least restrictive environment in the country. The Advocacy Project has represented over 3000 individual students in the last 20 years throughout the state of Maryland. Selene 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. 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. 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.

Roy Atwood, Esq. is a trial lawyer with extensive experience representing companies in complex litigation. He has represented clients in construction, toxic tort, product liability, state and local tax, and business disputes of all kinds. He has tried cases in state and federal courts in Texas and across the country and represented clients in arbitration. For over 15 years, Roy has served as national coordinating counsel for a group of Fortune 100 companies in lawsuits involving tens of thousands of plaintiffs in more than 20 jurisdictions. As national coordinating counsel, he has served in leadership roles on steering committees and in joint defense groups. Roy also practices special education law, helping individuals with disabilities who qualify for services under either the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act obtain the educational services they require. Roy’s work in this area has included attendance at numerous Admission, Review and Dismissal meetings and 504 meetings, as well as handling resulting litigation. As the parent of a son with special needs, Roy knows how intimidating the process can be of obtaining the educational opportunities to which students with special needs are entitled. In 2001 and 2002, Roy was a member of a team of lawyers who obtained defense verdicts for clients in toxic tort cases, each of which The National Law Journal recognized as one of the top 20 defense wins of the year. In addition to winning at trial, Roy has successfully negotiated settlements for clients when settlement was the appropriate result, sometimes under very difficult circumstances. In one matter, Roy handled contentious negotiations for a client that lasted five days and were conducted entirely in the presence of a United States Magistrate Judge. After 14 years as a partner, Roy retired from Jones Day at the end of 2012 and opened Atwood Gameros LLP. He made this move with the intent of providing clients with efficient and high quality service at reasonable rates. Roy has been a frequent speaker on litigation-related topics and teaches in trial skills programs. He served for many years on the board of the Trial Skills section of the Dallas Bar Association and is a member of the Dallas Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation. He is past president of the board of trustees of LaunchAbility, which helps people with developmental disabilities lead fulfilling lives. In 2011, LaunchAbility honored Roy with their Milton P. Levy Jr. Volunteer Award. Roy is also a member of the board of the Down Syndrome Guild of Dallas. He has served on various boards and commissions in the city of Carrollton, Texas, including serving as a planning and zoning commissioner. Roy also serves as a leader in the Student Ministries program at St. Andrew United Methodist Church. Roy has been recognized as a Best Lawyer in Dallas by D Magazine and has been recognized as a Texas SuperLawyer each year since 2009 and as a Best Lawyer in America since 2014. U.S. News and World Report has recognized Atwood Gameros, LLP as a Best Law Firm since 2014.

Lorraine Bees started Lorraine Bees Advocacy, LLC in order to assist families to improve the educational experience and outcome for their child with disabilities, and to empower them to become effective advocates. Beginning in 2008, she has worked as a special education advocate providing services to families in Northeastern Ohio centering on navigating and working through the special education process. Lorraine has also assisted families to secure Medicaid and Developmental Disability (DD) services, set up home programs, secure in home aide services, and manage their home-based services. She also participates in various training sessions for small groups, with area law firms and the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Special Education Conferences. Lorraine is currently a teaching assistant for COPAA’s Special Education Advocacy Training (SEAT) program. She is a member of the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities Transition Task force assisting in the transition to privatize the counties workshops, community employment services and adult day services.In 2012-2013 Lorraine also served as Board Member and Treasurer of Disability Rights Ohio. Lorraine is the parent/guardian of an adult child with multiple and severe disabling conditions. She received an MBA from Case Western Reserve University in 1993. She worked 12 years as a project manager and department head in various small and large corporations prior to turning her attentions to her family and the business of Special Education Advocacy.

Ms. Jane DuBovy, Esq. is a widely known and respected attorney. She has been practicing law for over 37 years, 25 years in the field of bankruptcy and 16 years in the field of representing students with special needs. She has a 23 year-old son, diagnosed with Autism, who motivates her to champion for his, and others’, rights. Leaving the bankruptcy practice behind, she focuses 100% of her legal energy on students with special needs and their families. She is also an avid tennis player. On behalf of her son she has filed for Due Process against LAUSD, and won; Westside Regional Center, and won; Boy Scouts of America and settled, SSI and in the midst of appeal, and finally FedEx, for employment discrimination. She’s a trained mediator who has been on the bankruptcy mediation panel for over 20 years.

Barbara J. Ebenstein, Esq.  is an attorney whose law practice focuses on the representation of parents in special education and disability matters in New York State. Barbara is an adjunct associate professor at New York University where she teaches the graduate course in Education Law. BJ served as a member of the Disability Policy Committee of the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, and she served as one of the surrogates speaking on disability issues on behalf of the campaign. She also serves as an impartial hearing officer in New York City and Long Island, and as a Vocational Rehabilitation hearing officer in New York State. Barbara has extensive experience conducting CLE for attorneys and workshops for parents, advocates, school personnel, physicians, and other professionals from Hawaii to New Hampshire. She served as the lead instructor for the New York pilot site of the federally funded SEAT Project (Special Education Advocacy Training) and she served as an attorney skills trainer for the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). Barbara has authored articles on special education law from the parents’ perspective for numerous national publications. She served as Chair of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) from 2005 to 2006. Barbara J. Ebenstein holds a J.D. from Pace University Law School, a M.A. in Education from Teachers College of Columbia University, and a B.A. cum laude from Boston University.

Michael J. Eig, Esq. the founder and owner of the firm, Michael J. Eig and Associates, has been practicing special education law and advocacy in the metropolitan D.C. area since 1975. His educational background includes degrees in cultural anthropology and education from Brandeis University (1970), a Masters in Education and Social Policy from Harvard University (1972), and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center (1975). A former public school teacher, Mr. Eig has combined his interest and training in education with a commitment to special education law, and advocated on behalf of disabled children and their families for the past thirty-eight years. He has served as counsel and/or amicus in special education cases before federal courts, including the Supreme Court. He was counsel in Schaffer v. Weast, before the Supreme Court, class counsel in the landmark Mills v. D.C. Board of Education, amicus in Smith v. Robinson and North v. D.C., and served as plaintiffs' counsel in Doyle v. Arlington School Board. He has participated in countless IEP meetings and Due Process Hearings since the 1970s and has lectured and written extensively in the area of special education law, including authoring the current article on Education of the Disabled in the Dictionary of American History.

Sarah Fairchild has been a civil rights attorney, working on behalf of individuals with disabilities, since 2005 when she received a Juris Doctorate from University of San Francisco. Her Bachelor’s Degree is in International Relations. Sarah has represented families in administrative proceedings, as well as state and federal litigation for thirteen years in Northern California. Sarah is the proud mother of two young men, one of which has Autism. Sarah is a devoted supporter of and partner in a community farm in Santa Cruz called Costanoa Commons, Costanoa Commons is a place for people with and without developmental disabilities to work, volunteer, and socialize.

Jennifer Engel Fisher is the Assistant Director and the Director of Advocacy of the Weinfeld Education Group, LLC. She has taught both as a special education inclusion teacher and self-contained teacher serving a variety of populations including students with ADHD, LD, Autism, and emotional disturbance. Jennifer has co-authored two books; Take Control of Asperger's Syndrome: The Official Strategy Guide for Teens with Asperger’s Syndrome and Nonverbal Learning Disorders and Take Control of Dyslexia and other Reading Disabilities. She is a contributing author of, School Success for Kids with ADHD.

Judith Gran, Esq., 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 highquality 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 Reisman Carolla Gran LLC, 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.

Tal Goldin, Esq. is a civil rights attorney and the Director of Advocacy at Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA), Montana’s federally funded civil legal aid organization.  Prior to his work at MLSA, Tal was the Supervising Attorney for the Education Unit at Disability Rights Montana, the federally mandated civil rights protection and advocacy organization for Montana, where his work focused almost entirely on representing children with disabilities in K-12 public school settings. Tal has taught Special Education Law, Policy, and Practice at the University of Montana, Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences and presented throughout Montana and nationally on the civil rights of students with disabilities. Tal is a member of the Order of Barristers, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, the National Association of Counsel for Children, the American Bar Association, the Montana Trial Lawyers Association, a past president of the Western Montana Bar Association, and a 2013 fellow of the New Leader’s Council.  In his former career, Tal was a set designer, production designer, and art director for Broadway, off-Broadway, and regional theater; television; film; and live events.

Michelle Groogan is a former news reporter, anchor, and public relations media specialist. She has a knack for telling a good story with truthfulness, empathy and compassion. Born in Chicago, she grew up in Texas. She went on to study Journalism and Broadcasting at the University of Texas at Austin. Her broadcasting career had her hopping markets all over the country until she met her husband Greg Groogan, another TV reporter. They settled in Houston and have two beautiful children. With a love for writing, she still writes for a local magazine in Houston. She recently worked at Disability Rights Texas as an advocate for the Harvey Team.

Benjamin Hinerfeld, Esq. began practicing special education law in 2008, doing pro bono work with the Public Interest Law Center in Philadelphia, PA. In 2013, he opened his own special ed law practice. He has litigated due process actions in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, and federal actions in district courts in the Second and Third Circuits. Currently, he is Of Counsel to Gina Decrescenzo P.C. In White Plains, NY and to Kershenbaum & Raffaele in Bryn Mawr, PA. Before practicing special education, Ben litigated actions under the federal securities laws. He also served as Deputy City Solicitor for the Law Department of the City of Philadelphia. He began his legal career as a judicial clerk on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.Ben is admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, New York and North Carolina, and is awaiting admission to the Massachusetts Bar. He lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts with his wife, Dr. Pamela Szczygiel, Professor of Social Work.

David Jefferson is the founder of Parent Support Arizona, an organization that assists families across the state of Arizona by ensuring children and young adults with disabilities are supported as they seek resources through the public-school system, State Developmental Disability System and State Behavioral Health System. This support is offered through direct advocacy services; parent training; professional development; providing tangible resources and facilitation of parent support groups. David has devoted the past 10 years of his life to supporting children and young adults with disabilities. He has done this as a foster parent, adoptive parent, advocate and community leader. David believes all children deserve an opportunity to reach their full potential and he works hard to offer families and professionals who work with children the resources, support and advocacy they need to ensure these children can excel at home, at school and in the community. In addition to his work with Parent Support Arizona, David also supports children and young adults with disabilities through his service as:Board of Directors Treasurer for COPAA, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, (a national special education advocacy organization; Board of Directors President for Reach Family Services, a behavioral health agency that uses a family run/lived experience model to support children who have mental health and behavioral health challenges; and Board of Directors President for the NAGI Foundation and animal welfare agency that provides social emotional learning programs for at risk youth that incorporates the use of animals; and free spay / neuter / medical treatment services to community members of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

Judge Marc Levine has been practicing law for over 15 years. He was associate general counsel and held an executive position with a major insurance company for 10 years. In 2010, he left the private sector to work for the State of California as an Administrative Law Judge. While on the bench, Judge Levine heard cases involving individuals with disabilities, as well as those involving children in special education cases. He was also an arbitrator with American Arbitration Association and is a certified mediator. Judge Levine retired from the bench in 2017, and has since been dedicated to advocating for the rights of children and their parents.

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. Denise can be reached at exec @ copaa.org or 844-426-7224 x 700.

Shenikwa Medlock, married for 19+ years and Mom of 4 kids ranging in ages from 7-17 with special needs (Autism, Audio Processing, ADHD, Autism, Twice Exceptional and Sensory Processing Disorder). She understands from a personal level about how having a child with a disability affects every aspect of your life. Mrs. Medlock’s motto is “First do no harm”. She strives to leave parents, caregivers, and/ or guardians better and more empowered. Her brand of advocacy takes the entire family into consideration. She is experienced in navigating not only special education system (IEP, ARD, 504 plan, etc.) and its complaint process (IEP, ARD, OCR, ADA, Due Process, Texas Education Agency, and School Board complaint). She is knowledgeable about Individual Family and Service Plan (IFSP), Medicaid Waiver Programs, and Transition planning. And, she navigated complaints through Texas Workforce (appointed Transition agency for students with disabilities) DADS in reference to Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) - IDEA Part C, Local Mental Agency, Health and Human Services (complaints specific to Medicaid and Affordable Healthcare Act), Texas Department of Insurance and Medicaid Waiver program. Experienced with Person Centered Planning, Micro-board, and Grant funding resources for private therapeutic services for parents in need in order to improve outcomes for children and adults with disabilities.

Amanda O’Neal, Esq. graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University in 2011, earning her bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Psychology. She received her Juris Doctor from Whittier Law School in 2014 and obtained a certificate in Children’s Rights Law. While at Whittier Law School, Amanda was a fellow in the Center for Children’s Rights Fellowship program. She received the Center for Children’s Rights Outstanding Fellow Award. She also participated in Whittier’s pro bono Special Education Legal Clinic. Amanda also served as Solicitations Editor for the Whittier Journal for Child and Family Advocacy. Amanda’s passion for Special Education Law stems from her personal experience. She has two siblings with special needs who have had to navigate the special education system.

Richard O'Meara, Esq., is a shareholder and director in the law firm of Murray, Plumb & Murray in Portland, Maine, which has the largest practice in Maine representing families of students with disabilities. He received his B.A degree summa cum laude from Dartmouth College; an M.Sc. degree with distinction from the London School of Economics and Political Science; and a J.D. degree summa cum laude from the University of Virginia School of Law. Mr. O’Meara has been involved with the ACLU of Maine since 1987 and with COPAA since its inception. As part of his civil litigation practice, he regularly represents families of children with disabilities in disputes arising under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Maine Human Rights Act. Mr. O’Meara is the president of the Board of Disability Rights Maine, the state’s federally-funded protection and advocacy agency, and a member of COPAA’s Amicus Curiae Committee.

Meghan M. Probert, Esq.  holds a B.A. in History and Spanish from Saint Michael’s College, cum laude, and a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. She is a member of the District of Columbia Bar. She has worked in special education law since 2012, providing support and guidance to parents seeking to secure appropriate educational services for their children through the IEP process, administrative due process appeals and in federal court. Ms. Probert has a longstanding passion for working with children and adults with disabilities. She served as President of the St. Michael’s chapter of Best Buddies, an organization creating opportunities for one-to-one friendships for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as engaged with representatives from around the country at the Best Buddies National Leadership Conference in 2003.

Paula A. Rosenstock, Esq. holds a B.A. in psychology from Tufts University, magna cum laude, and a J.D. from The George Washington University Law School. She was admitted to the Virginia Bar in 2003, the District of Columbia Bar in 2005 and the Maryland Bar in 2014. Ms. Rosenstock has spent nearly her entire legal career practicing special education law in the Washington D.C. area. She provides support and guidance to parents seeking to secure appropriate educational services for their children through the IEP process, administrative due process appeals and in federal court. Prior to law school, she worked in several schools and programs for children with disabilities.

Jack D. Robinson, Esq., is an attorney and co-founder of the law firm Spies, Powers & Robinson, P.C., where his primary practice area is special education law and educational discrimination. Mr. Robinson has been representing the interests of children with disabilities and their parents for over twenty years and is a frequent lecturer on the application and construction of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. He has represented clients in numerous due process proceedings, civil actions, and appeals. Mr. Robinson is counsel of record for the student and his parents in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1, a case in which the United States Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the student established a substantive standard for a free appropriate public education and, in so doing, greatly expanded the rights of all children with disabilities. Mr. Robinson is the founder of the Colorado Council of Special Education Lawyers and is a former member of the Colorado Special Education Advisory Committee. 

Ellen Saideman, Esq., has nearly thirty years of experience with special education and disability rights litigation. She is a COPAA Board member and co-chair of the COPAA Amicus Committee. She has practiced special education in four states: Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island. She spent more than twelve years teaching legal writing at Roger Williams University School of Law, and she has also provided training in legal writing to attorneys and advocates at COPAA and also at NDRN. She has presented at COPAA’s annual conference on several occasions.

Verity Sandell, Esq. represents children and parents in their special education, school discipline, and other education matters. As part of her work, she provides training on education law issues to attorneys, case workers, parents, guardians, and mental health professionals. Prior to joining the Moran Center in September 2016, Verity served as a staff attorney in the Legal Assistance Foundation’s Children and Families Practice Group. Before becoming an attorney, Verity taught elementary school in the Chicago Public Schools. Her experiences teaching led her to law school, to advocate for the educational rights of low-income students.

Michele Scavongelli, Esq., 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 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. 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.

Jamie Schulte, Esq. is a staff attorney at LAF (formerly Legal Assistance Foundation) where her work focuses on representing youth in care with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in special education, school discipline, and other school-related matters. Jamie was previously a Skadden Fellow at LAF, with a fellowship project centered on providing representation in education matters to students attending Chicago Public Schools’ alternative or “Options Schools”. Before coming to LAF, Jamie clerked for the Honorable Gregg Costa of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Prior to becoming an attorney, Jamie taught middle school English for two years in Houston, Texas through the Teach for America program. She received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago Law School, and her Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Notre Dame.

Rachel Sears, Esq. is an Associate at Murray Plumb & Murray in Portland, Maine, where she practices both education law and estate planning. She assists in the representation of individuals with disabilities and their families. She also  partners with individuals, couples, and families on the estate-planning front, providing an array of services including wills, trusts, advance healthcare directives, and powers of attorney, including planning for individuals with disabilities.  Prior to joining Murray Plumb & Murray, Attorney Sears worked as a law clerk to Judge John A. Woodcock, Jr., of the United States District Court for the District of Maine. She received both her bachelor’s degree and her master’s degree from Stanford University, and received her law degree from the University of Maine School of Law

James Sibley, Esq. served as a District Attorney for 25 years and has become an advocate for special needs students and their families after raising an autistic son. Jim has tried over 150 jury trials to verdict, had four affirmances on appeal published, and drafted three pieces of legislation. Jim has served as a consultant for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a certified instructor for the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, and a member of the Governor’s High-Tech Crime Advisory Committee.

Julie Swanson’s special education advocacy practice grew out of her own efforts to advocate for her son. As an advocate, she helps parents navigate the the special education process, including attending IEP and Section 504 meetings. She speaks frequently on special education matters and has a long-standing history of service on special education-related state boards, task forces and legislative appointments to state councils.

Julie is the co-founders of YourSpecialEducationRights.com, a video-based website designed to simplify special education rights and the co-author of Your Special Education Rights: What Your School District Isn’t Telling You.

David Tollner, Esq 

David brings his trial experience as a litigator, unique knowledge of special education process and services, and formidable passion to his special education practice. David has served as Executive Director of Pacific Autism Center for Education (PACE) and Rebekah Children's Services. David opened Tollner Law Offices in 2007 and has since built it into one of the largest disability law firms in Northern California, serving children and adults with special needs.

Rich Weinfeld is Executive Director of Weinfeld Education Group, www.weinfeldeducationgroup.com, a group of educational consultants, psychologists, and related student services providers, dedicated to helping all students reach their potential. Rich serves as an expert witness and advocate for appropriate services for students with special needs throughout the United States. Rich began his career teaching elementary school and then spent 14 years working with emotionally disturbed students, and 6 years directing a program for students with learning disabilities, physical challenges, and autism spectrum disorders. His career in public school education culminated with 6 years as the director of programs for gifted students with disabilities. Rich has co-authored 6 books and many articles on a variety of special needs topics, including “Smart Kids with Learning Difficulties” and “School Success for Kids with High Functioning Autism”; taught a course on Gifted Students with Disabilities at Johns Hopkins; created and taught a course on advocacy; and provided training for a wide variety of professionals and parent groups.

Kathleen Whitbread, Ph.D, A/AOGPE is the Research and Training Coordinator for the Down Syndrome Association of Connecticut (DS ACT) and a former associate professor of education at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, CT. Prior to joining the faculty at USJ, Dr. Whitbread was an assistant professor of pediatrics and Associate Director of the University of Connecticut Center for Developmental Disabilities, where she directed research and training projects to improve educational opportunities for children with developmental disabilities. Dr. Whitbread’s research interests include literacy instruction for students with intellectual disabilities and educating students with disabilities in general education settings. She maintains a blog, Open Books Open Doors, which features current research and practice in reading instruction for children with Down syndrome. Dr. Whitbread has published articles about her research in Teaching Exceptional Children, Research in Middle Level Education, The Journal of the Connecticut Association for Reading Research, The Journal of Inclusive Education, Topics in Early Childhood Special Education and Current Issues in Education. Kathleen can be reached at www.kathleenwhitbread.com
































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