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2020 Breakout Session I

 

Saturday, March 7, 2020 ▪ 10:45 AM – 12:15 PM

Title

Presenter(s)

Intended Audience

1.1

The Transfer of Rights Process: Debunking the Myths of Supported Decision-Making and Guardianship

Shawn Ullman

Novice

All Attendees

1.2

The State of the Twice Exceptional: Potential, Challenge and Where Endrew F. Should Take Us

Michael Eig

Rich Weinfeld

Intermediate/Advanced

All Attendees

1.3

Ethics for Special Education Attorneys

Jodi Siegel

Chelsea Dunn

 

Novice

Attorney

1.4

Skills for Effective Parent Advocacy: Taking Advocacy to the Next Level

Maria Blaeuer

Stacey Eunnae

Novice/Intermediate

All

1.5

Bringing Legislation on Cameras in Classrooms into Focus

Maureen Van Stone

Mallory Finn

Alyssa Navarrete Thorn

All Levels

All Attendees

1.6

Advocating for the Education Rights of Court-Involved Young People

Tayo Belle

Intermediate/Advanced

Advocate/Attorney/Law Student

1.7

Barriers for Students with Disabilities in Higher Education

Deanna Yadollahi

All Levels

All Attendees

1.8

A View from the Inside: Special Education Attorneys with Disabilities

Michael Gilberg

Robert Tudisco

Stephanie Langer

Ptahra Jeppe

All Levels

All Attendees

1.9

Advocating for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Carla Keirns

Katherine Alstrin

All Levels

All Attendees


 

1.1 The Transfer of Rights Process: Debunking the Myths of Supported Decision-Making and Guardianship

 

Presenter: 

Shawn Ullman
Senior Director of National Initiatives
The Arc of the United States
1825 K Street, NW, Suite 1200
Washington, DC 20006
202-617-3276
ullman@thearc.org

 

Intended Audience:

Novice

All Attendees

Brief Session Description: 

Ensure student’s rights to self-determination are protected in the transfer of rights process. Come learn more about guardianship and less restrictive decision-making alternatives, including myths about guardianship and supported decision-making.

Presenters’ Biography:

As Senior Director of National Initiatives, Shawn Ullman leads The Arc’s special education advocacy and individual and family support initiatives. Prior to joining The Arc, Shawn was a staff attorney with Disability Rights DC, the protection and advocacy agency for the District of Columbia, for 11 years, where she advocates for children and adults with developmental disabilities to obtain the services and supports they need to live, learn, and work in the community. Shawn received her bachelor’s degree in political science from DePauw University in 1997 and her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 2001.

1.2 The State of the Twice Exceptional: Potential, Challenge and Where Endrew F. Should

Take Us

 

Presenters:

Michael J. Eig, Esq.

Michael J. Eig and Associates 5454 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 760 Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815 301-657-1740

Michael.Eig@lawforchildren.com

 

Rich Weinfeld

Weinfeld Education Group Executive Director

4865A Cordell Avenue, Suite 240 Bethesda MD 20814

301-681-6233

Rich@Weinfeldeducationgroup.com

 

Intended Audience:

Intermediate/Advanced

All Attendees

 

Brief Session Description:

The presenters discuss the growing recognition of students who are Twice Exceptional (“2E”) including the impact of Endrew F., on the 2E population. An overview of Endrew F. is provided; explaining specifically how the Supreme Court’s language helps attorneys, parents and advocates focus school systems on both the identification of 2E students, and consideration of progress in light of their potential and unique circumstances.

 

Presenter's Biography:

Michael J. Eig, 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 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.

 

Rich Weinfeld is Executive Director of Weinfeld Education Group, WEG.  www.weinfeldeducationgroup.com, a group of special education consultants, dedicated to helping all students reach their potential. For the past 15 years, Rich has directed the work of WEG, and served as an expert witness and advocate for appropriate services for students with disabilities 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.

 

1.3 Ethics for Special Education Attorneys

 

Presenters:

Jodi Siegel, Executive Director, jodi.siegel@southernlegal.org

Chelsea Dunn, Attorney, chelsea.dunn@southernlegal.org

Simone Chriss, Attorney, simone.chriss@southernlegal.org

 

All at:

Southern Legal Counsel

1229 NW 12th Avenue

Gainesville, FL 32601

352-271-8890

 

Intended Audience:

Novice

Attorney

 

Brief Session Description:

Ethical issues often arise in representing parents and students in special education proceedings. Through presentation and interactive styles, this session provides in-depth information in three pertinent areas: client-lawyer relationship, cultural competence, and attorneys’ fees.

 

Presenters’ Biography:

Jodi Siegel has been an attorney with Southern Legal Counsel, a non-profit public interest law firm, since 1985, and became its Executive Director in July 2004. A predominant portion of her responsibilities at SLC is in representing individuals with disabilities in a variety of forums. She has litigated class and individual actions involving federal constitutional and statutory actions under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Federal Civil Rights Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Federal Rehabilitation Act.  She also has presented extensively to various groups on special education and other issues.  She litigated a statewide declaratory action under the Florida Constitution alleging that Florida is not providing a uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality system of free public schools. Jodi is an Adjunct Professor for Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center where she teaches a Masters Level program in Special Education Law.  She has been the Director of SLC’s Education Advocacy Project since 1999, which is funded by The Florida Bar Foundation to provide state support and train, support, mentor and co-counsel legal service/aid lawyers and advocates to increase and improve special education advocacy.  She is a past Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates Board of Director, including Past Chair and Past Treasurer.  She coordinated the 2003 and 2004 national conferences for COPAA, and continues to assist with conference planning.  She is a Past Chair of The Florida Bar Public Interest Law Section. Jodi is a member of The Florida Bar, the U.S. Middle, Northern and Southern Districts of Florida, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. She received her B.A. in 1982 from New College (Honors College of University of South Florida), Sarasota, Florida; and a J.D. in 1985 from the University of Florida College of Law, Gainesville, Florida. She was the Senior Research Editor for one semester and Senior Student Works Editor for two semesters with the University of Florida Law Review.

 

Chelsea Dunn joined Southern Legal Counsel as a Staff Attorney in July 2018. She is the director of the Healthy Kids Medical-Legal Partnership, seeking to resolve the health-harming legal needs of some of Florida’s underserved children. She also contributes to SLC’s efforts to prevent discrimination against vulnerable populations. Chelsea came to SLC from the Child and Family Law Division of Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS), the Massachusetts Public Defender’s office, where she worked as a Supervising Staff Attorney, representing indigent parents and children in dependency cases. During her seven years with CPCS, Chelsea was frequent presenter in a number of trainings, including trainings to certify Massachusetts practitioners in dependency and termination of parental rights cases. She co-authored a model memorandum distributed to child welfare practitioners statewide regarding the Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) provision of services under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an update on the “Privilege and Confidentiality” chapter of the Massachusetts Child Welfare Practice Manual, as well as two letter commentaries on new DCF regulations related to family assessments and service planning. Chelsea is a member of The Florida Bar, as well as a member of both the Massachusetts and Virginia State Bars. She obtained her J.D. from the University of Richmond School of Law in 2009, where she graduated magna cum laude and received the Nina R. Kestin Service Award for contributions to the school, community, and legal profession.  She served as an editor for the Richmond Journal of Law and the Public Interest, in which she had two comments published.  After graduating from law school, she spent two years clerking for Senior Justice Harry L. Carrico of the Virginia Supreme Court.  Chelsea received a B.A. in English and a B.S. in Sociology at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

 

Simone Chriss joined Southern Legal Counsel in August of 2016 after graduating from the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where she received her J.D. with honors in May 2016. Simone is the Director of the organizations’ Transgender Rights Initiative, developed by SLC to fill a gap in access to justice by systemically providing legal name change and identification document amendment assistance to the transgender community statewide. She conducts transgender cultural competency trainings statewide and nationally, and presents transgender name change and ID document workshops throughout Florida. She utilizes policy advocacy, impact litigation, and community education/training to bring about systemic reform in the areas of special education, LGBT rights, child welfare, and implementing trauma-informed services. Simone focuses primarily on childhood trauma and LGBT advocacy, and has presented at numerous statewide and national conferences on these two topics, including at the 2019 and 2018 Council of Parent and Attorney Advocates (COPAA), the 2019 and 2017 Guardian ad Litem Disabilities Conference, the 2019 Mazonni Transgender Wellness Conference, the 2018 Equal Justice Conference (EJC), and the 2017 National Legal Aid and Defenders Association (NLADA), among others. She has published two articles, one titled "After Obergefell v. Hodges: the Continuing Battle Over Equal Rights for Sexual Minorities in the United States" and the other titled "The Case for Trauma-Informed, Gender-Specific Prevention & Early Intervention Programming in Reducing Female Juvenile Delinquency in Florida." Simone is a member of The Florida Bar, and the bars of the U.S. Middle and Northern District Courts of Florida. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Public Interest Law Section of the Florida Bar, and serves as Chair of the section’s Children’s Rights Committee. Simone was appointed to The Florida Bar’s standing committee on Diversity and Inclusion. Further, she serves as an Attorney ad Litem for the Eighth Judicial Circuit’s registry for dependent children with disabilities.


1.4 Skills for Effective Parent Advocacy: Taking Advocacy to the Next Level

 

Presenters:

Advocates for Justice and Education, Inc. (AJE)

1200 G Street NW, #725

Washington D.C. 20005

(202) 678-8060

 

Maria Blaeuer, Esq.

Director of Programs and Outreach  

Maria.blaeuer@aje-dc.org

202-678-8060 x. 213

 

Stacey K. Eunnae, Esq.

Senior Staff Attorney  

Stacey.eunnae@aje-dc.org

202-678-8060 x. 216

 

Intended Audience:

Novice/Intermediate

All Attendees

 

Brief Session Description:

In this session, participants are introduced to the fundamentals of advocacy, giving parents and professionals a chance to practice effective communication, meeting management and negotiation techniques. Further, participants learn how to take their advocacy to the next level by transforming truths into talking points, speaking truth to power in multiple forums (e.g. community meetings, local legislative bodies, state agencies, social media) and changing systems through collective action.

 

Presenters’ Biography:

Maria Blaeuer is an attorney whose practice focuses on education law, with a particular emphasis on special education, disability and disciplinary matters. She is admitted to practice law in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Maria is currently Director of Programs and Outreach at Advocates for Justice and Education (AJE) in the District of Columbia. AJE houses the Parent Training and Information Center for DC. AJE provides training and individual support, including representation, to parents in DC about all aspects of the education decision-making process. She has participating in IEPs meetings as a student, parent, teacher and now, on behalf of students and parents. In addition to representing parents and children in disputes with school systems, she has also provided training to special educators and other professionals in Chicago, IL and Boston, MA on how to use the IDEA’s procedural requirements to build stronger relationships with families, avoid due process and improve student outcomes. She has also participated in the training of court-appointed attorneys in the District of Columbia. Maria is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and Howard University School of Law and is currently (very slowly) pursing a master’s degree in public management with a focus on education policy. Her primary interests are improving the post-secondary outcomes of students with high-incidence disabilities and exploring how low- and middle-income families access IDEA’s dispute resolution resources. Maria is a native of the DC region, and lives near Montgomery County, Maryland’s agricultural preserve with her husband, their three children, and two cats, one dog and too many chickens. She has been unsuccessfully campaigning to add bees to the family menagerie but remains hopeful.

 

Stacey K. Eunnae is a Senior Staff Attorney at Advocates for Justice and Education, Inc. (AJE), a non-profit legal services organization and parent training information (PTI) center in the District of Columbia. AJE seeks to empower students, their families and the community to be effective advocates for youth, promoting school accountability and ensuring youth receive access to appropriate education and health services. At AJE, Stacey provides direct advocacy and support to students and their families on a wide- array of cases related to education and school discipline matters. Stacey has represented hundreds of clients in school discipline and special education legal proceedings, including direct representation of families and their students at IEP meetings, mediations, administrative hearings, appeals and criminal/delinquency court proceedings before principals, school boards, impartial hearing officers and judges. Prior to re-joining AJE in March 2018, Stacey was a Clinical Instructor and Supervising Attorney in the Juvenile and Special Education Law Clinic at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC-DCSL). In this position, Stacey supervised law students representing families in special education and school discipline cases and co-taught the weekly clinic seminar that covered substantive law and practical advocacy skills. At UDC- DCSL, Stacey also earned an LL.M degree in clinical instruction and systems change. Stacey testifies annually before the D.C. Council on legislative and policy matters and has led numerous “know your rights,” pro bono and C.L.E. presentations and trainings on a variety of topics related to education and school pushout. Based on her experiences representing youth in school discipline matters, Stacey co-wrote and assisted in the production of East of the River  (2019), an award-winning independent short film about school pushout and coming-of-age in. Stacey has contributed to several Op-Eds and news reports featuring her work in publications that include the Washington Post, Huffington Post, DC Line and The Hill. Stacey received her bachelor's degree in Women Studies at the College of William & Mary, and her Juris Doctorate degree from Georgetown University Law Center. During law school, Stacey represented clients facing parole revocation hearings before the U.S. Parole Commission and provided litigation support to senior trial attorneys for the Public Defender Service of DC. Stacey is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and Commonwealth of Virginia.

1.5 Bringing Legislation on Cameras in Classrooms into Focus

 

Presenters: 

Maureen van Stone, Esq., MS

Director, Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities

Director, Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy and Law)

Kennedy Krieger Institute
716 N. Broadway, Office 106

Baltimore, MD 21205

443-923-4416

vanstone@kennedykrieger.org

 

Mallory Finn, Esq.

Staff Attorney, Project HEAL

Kennedy Krieger Institute
716 N. Broadway, Office 107

Baltimore, MD 21205

443-923-9571

finnm@kennedykrieger.org

 

Alyssa Navarrete Thorn, Esq.

Staff Attorney, Project HEAL

Kennedy Krieger Institute

716 N. Broadway, Office 105

Baltimore, MD 21205

443-923-9231

navarrete@kennedykrieger.org

 

Intended Audience:

All Levels of Experience

All Attendees

 

Brief Session Description:

The presenters provides an overview of the laws and policies governing the implementation and use of cameras in special education classrooms. Different outcomes of legislation on this topic across the country are explored. Pros, cons, and themes emerging from the nationwide conversation about the utility of cameras in special education classrooms are discussed.

 

Presenters’ Biography: 

Maureen van Stone is the director of the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) at Kennedy Krieger Institute and the founding director of Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law), a MCDD community-based program. Project HEAL is Maryland’s only comprehensive medical-legal partnership, which provides advocacy and legal services to families and children with disabilities who receive clinical services at Kennedy Krieger Institute. Maureen is faculty for the Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Formerly, Maureen was faculty for Kennedy Krieger Institute's Center for Innovation and Leadership in Special Education, adjunct faculty at Towson University and The University of Baltimore School of Law. Maureen is a member of Kennedy Krieger Institute’s ethics program. Maureen serves as the Chair, on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, for the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. She served on two advisory committees for the National Council on Disability; she served as an expert on the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, Community of Practice on youth receiving Supplemental Security Income; and she served on the Committee on Improving Health Outcomes for Children with Disabilities through The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Maureen earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Southern California, a master’s degree in developmental psychology at The Johns Hopkins University, and a Juris Doctor at Whittier Law School, with a concentration on children’s legal issues. Prior to law school, Maureen worked as a clinician on the Neurobehavioral Unit in the Department of Behavioral Psychology at Kennedy Krieger Institute for six years. Maureen is a graduate of the Leadership Maryland Class of 2012 and received the following awards from Maryland’s business and legal newspaper, The Daily Record: 2018 Top 100 Women award, 2016 Innovator of the Year, 2014 Very Important Professionals award, 2013 Maryland’s Top 100 Women award, 2012 Leadership in Law award, and 2011 Leading Women award. 

 

Mallory Finn is a staff attorney at Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law), a community-based program of the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities at Kennedy Krieger Institute. Mallory earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Delaware and a Juris Doctor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. She interned at Project HEAL during her second and third years of law school, and started as a staff attorney in August 2014. Mallory serves on the board of directors of the Collaborative Project of Maryland and the First Maryland Disability Trust. She is on the development committee and is a co-chair of the membership committee for the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. Mallory received The Daily Record's Leading Women Award in December 2017, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Young Professional Award in November 2017, the Maryland Legal Services Corporation’s Rising Star Award in 2018, and the Daily Record’s VIP List Award in 2019.

 

Alyssa Navarrete Thorn is a staff attorney at Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law), a community-based program of the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities at Kennedy Krieger Institute.  Alyssa earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and Spanish from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in 2011, and a Juris Doctor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in 2014. After law school, Alyssa worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Pamela J. White on the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. Thereafter, she began her legal career as an Assistant Public Defender in the Post Conviction Defenders Division of the Office of the Public Defender. She spent over two years there practicing in Circuit Courts throughout Maryland. In January of 2017, Alyssa received the Spirit Award, an honor given annually to the post conviction attorney who best embodies the mission of the Post Conviction Defenders Division. Immediately prior to joining Project HEAL, Alyssa worked as a staff attorney in the mental health unit at Disability Rights Maryland. In her free time, Alyssa serves as the Community Coordinator for the Baltimore City chapter of Athletes Serving Athletes, a nonprofit organization that empowers athletes with disabilities to compete in running events. Alyssa is on the board of the Arc Baltimore. She is also on the media relations and conference committees for the Council of Parents Attorneys and Advocates, Inc.

 

1.6 Advocating for the Education Rights of Court-Involved Young People

 

Presenter:

Tayo Belle, Esq.

Senior Staff Attorney

School Justice Project

1805 7th St. NW, 7th Fl.

Washington, D.C. 20001

(202) 630-9969 (cell)

tbelle@sjpdc.org

 

Intended Audience:

Intermediate/Advanced

Attorney/Advocate/Law Student

 

Brief Session Description:

This training session identifies common education issues that may arise as ancillary issues when representing young people involved in justice systems, with a spotlight on Washington, D.C. Attorneys and advocates learn tips for issue-spotting education issues that often act as barriers for court-involved young people to obtain an education. How to use special education laws to advocate for students eligible for special education or suspected of having a disability is addressed. Participants learn how to effectively advocate for young people throughout each stage of the criminal proceeding, whether in juvenile or adult criminal court, to mitigate negative educational outcomes.

 

Presenters’ Biography:

Tayo Belle is a Senior Staff Attorney at School Justice Project. Tayo represents court-involved young people ages 17-22 in their special education matters.  In this role, Tayo works to mitigate the consequences of the juvenile and criminal justice systems by using special education laws to promote education over incarceration. Tayo also works on SJP’s systemic advocacy efforts aimed at improving correctional education, increasing access to special education attorneys in criminal court, and advocating for effective implementation of Individualized Education Programs (“IEP”). Prior to joining SJP, Tayo was a Staff Attorney at Advocates for Children of New York representing individual students with special education needs through administrative hearings and IEP meetings. Tayo was also an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where she advocated for statewide and local policies to address school discipline and safety issues.  She represented public school students in suspension hearings and assisted with education related federal litigation. During Tayo’s tenure with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco, she served as the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Fellow. She was part of the team that successfully challenged the Federal Railroad Administration to increase contracting opportunities for minority-owned businesses resulting in a nationwide change to the standard contract. Tayo also served as a legal intern for the Honorable Ann Williams, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago and at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in New York City where she worked on education issues. Prior to law school, Tayo was a Staff Assistant for United States Senator Robert P. Casey. Tayo holds a B.A. in Political Science from The Ohio State University and a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law. Tayo is an attorney admitted to practice in New York state only. Tayo is practicing in the District of Columbia under D.C. App. R. 49(C)(9) under the supervision of School Justice Project co-founder and Director of Programs Sarah Comeau, a D.C.-barred attorney.

 

1.7 Barriers for Students with Disabilities in Higher Education

 

Presenter: 

Deanna Yadollahi

deannayadollahi@gmail.com

 

Intended Audience:

All Levels of Experience

All Attendees

 

Brief Session Description:

Many primary and secondary students with disabilities will become university students and face new barriers to educational accessibility and inclusion. To illustrate the issue data is presented on the experiences of college students with disabilities at one specific institution, including the unjust and illegal barriers that this campus harbors. Attendees learn how to institutionally advocate for and support post-secondary students with disabilities.

 

Presenters’ Biography: 

Identifying intentionally as a disabled student, Deanna Yadollahi is a senior psychology major, disability advocate, and student researcher. She has worked with individuals with disabilities for over 6 years in advanced positions for special education, behavior intervention, and respite caregiving. She is a court appointed special advocate, volunteered briefly as a disability support services peer mentor and president of Abled Advocators student organization, and chaired the student advisory board for disability support services for 2 years.Deanna was the main author on a campus disability justice-focused, recently passed resolution at her university; participated in diversity-focused research preparatory programs; received an honorable mention for the Sally Casanova Pre-doctoral Scholarship; and has presented on disability justice as a panelist, researcher, guest lecturer, and ally trainer. She hopes to enter a doctoral degree to conduct research that will assist with advocating for the disability community.

 

1.8 A View from the Inside: Special Education Attorneys with Disabilities

 

Presenters: 

Michael Gilberg Esq.,

Attorney-at-Law

PO Box 26

Granite Springs, NY 10527

914-589-5107

michaelgilbergesq@gmail.com

 

Robert M. Tudisco, Esq.

Barger & Gaines

830 South Broadway

Tarrytown, NY 10591

(914) 902-5918 ext. 116

robert@bargergaines.com

 

Ptahra Jeppe

Law Student Syracuse University College of Law

96 Hancock Street

Brooklyn, NY 11216

917-853-7731

ptahrajeppe@gmail.com

 

Stephanie Langer, Esq.

Staff Attorney

Disability Independence Group, Inc.

2990 SW 35th Avenue

Miami, Florida 33133

305.669-2822

slanger@justDIGit.org

 

Intended Audience:

All Levels of Experience

All Attendees

 

Brief Session Description:         

In this presentation two practicing special education attorneys and one law student aspiring to be a special education attorney share their experiences having three different disabilities commonly seen in special education; Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and Dyslexia. Presenters discuss experiences growing up and attending school in the public education system, and how those experiences inform their current work.

 

Presenters’ Biography:   

Michael Gilberg, has years of both Special Education and Disability Rights Law and Advocacy Experience. Attorney Gilberg also has his own personal experience. As someone on the Autism Spectrum. Attorney Gilberg received his J.D. from Pace University School of Law in 2007 after receiving both his B.A. and M.P.A. also from Pace University. Attorney Gilberg holds numerous Professional Affiliations and Leadership Roles including serving on Board of Directors of COPAA as well as co-chair of the membership committee. He also is involved with the Disability Rights Bar Association, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, helped found the National Association of Attorneys with Disabilities, serves on the New York State Bar Association on Committee on People with Disabilities, serves on the Editorial Board of the Autism Spectrum News, and serves on the Westchester County Autism Advisory Committee among other organizations. He has lectured extensively before numerous organizations, parent groups, and has had numerous media experiences both about living on the Autism Spectrum as well as being a special education attorney who went through the system. He has also been active in the area of attorneys with disabilities and has organized CLEs on this topic.

 

Robert M. Tudisco, is a nationally recognized author, motivational speaker and non-profit management consultant, in addition to being a practicing attorney at the law firm of Barger & Gaines, in Irvington NY.  He is also an adult diagnosed with ADHD.  From 2010 through 2013, Robert was the Executive Director of the Edge Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides specialized coaching for students with ADHD and Executive Functioning Impairment.  He is a past member of the National Board of Directors of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD), serving as a member of its Public Policy Committee since 2003 through 2015, and as Committee Chair from 2005 through 2008.  Robert is also a former Vice President of the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA).  Since his diagnosis, he has researched and written extensively on the subject of special education law and disability advocacy, as well as the over representation of individuals with ADHD and co-occurring mental health conditions in the juvenile/criminal justice systems compared to that in the general population.  He is a frequent resource for the media on these subjects including CBS News, New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, ABC News, The BBC, NBC’s Today Show, CNN, USA Today, Seattle Times.  Robert has been published in ATTENTION® Magazine and regularly contributes on adult, parenting and legal issues, in addition to serving on its Editorial Advisory Board from 2004 through 2014.  He was also the legal expert columnist for ADDitude Magazine from 2007 through 2012. Robert received his Juris Doctor at the Fordham University School of Law in 1989.  He subsequently served four years as an Assistant District Attorney in Bronx County, NY.  For the last twenty-five years he has specialized in the areas of education law, disability advocacy and criminal law.  He also lectures at conferences and continuing legal education seminars throughout the country and speaks at special education PTA meetings.  He also accepts engagements as a keynote and motivational speaker for parenting and student groups.

 

Ptahra Jeppe, is in her third year at Syracuse University College of Law and is pursuing a Juris Doctorate, an M.S. in Cultural Foundations of Education, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Disability Studies. In third grade, Ptahra was diagnosed with severe dyslexia. Ptahra experienced almost every educational environment that the New York City Department of Education had to offer. She was a special education student who experienced: General Education, General Education with Resource Room, Collaborative Teaching environments, 12:1 classes, 12:1:1 classes, Occupational Therapy, Reading Specialists, and more. It was clear that the New York City Department of Education didn't have the resources that she needed and Ptahra was enrolled in the Churchill School, a school for children with language-based learning disabilities. Thanks to a great family, great educators, assistive technology, multi-sensory education, and accommodations, she was able to navigate academia and the world beyond. In fact, Ptahra was able to graduate high school with a New York State Regents Diploma. She then graduated magna cum laude along with other honors from Adelphi University and became program director at Everyone Reading (formerly New York Branch of the International Dyslexia Association). Ptahra then served as Chief of Staff for New York State Assembly member Jo Anne Simon before leaving to attend law school. Ptahra is currently serving as: A Board Member of Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring; President of Syracuse University College of Law Disability Law Society; member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates Membership & Social and Racial Equity Committees; and member of the Churchill School Alumni Board. Upon graduation, Ptahra hopes to pursue a career in special education law so that she can continue to help individuals with disabilities and others in need.

 

Stephanie Langer has been practicing law since 1998. She began her legal career in the Miami Dade County State Attorney’s Office as an Assistant State Attorney.  Stephanie has been litigating education cases since 2006.  Stephanie spent two years as a staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center with a focus on education cases.  In May of 2014, Stephanie opened Langer Law, P.A. a boutique law firm focusing on education and other issues impacting families with children with disabilities. In March 2018, Stephanie joined Disability Independence Group, Inc. (DIG) a nonprofit organization that promotes recruitment, education and employment of persons with disabilities and helps empower people with disabilities to become self-advocates by giving them access to the tools they need to be educated on their legal rights. DIG is a resource center for persons with disabilities, their families, lawyers, and other professionals regarding individuals’ rights in the community, the legal system, the education system and employment. Stephanie is admitted to practice law in Florida, Georgia, New York and New Jersey. She is also permitted to appear in the U.S. District Court in Florida’s Southern and Middle Districts. Stephanie attended college at Syracuse University in New York (’90) and law school at The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C. (’98). Stephanie was also a U.S. Congressional Page for Congressman Claude Pepper in 1988 and selected to work for Senator Bill Bradley’s PAC, Participation 2000 in 1994.


1.9 Advocating for the Blind and Visually Impaired

 

Presenters:

Katherine L. Alstrin, MS Ed ECU; TVI/COMS; Doctoral Candidate, Gwynedd Mercy University

Insight Services: Visual Impairment Education Support Services

156 Broad Street

Leetsdale, PA 15056

785-594-3506

KathyAlstrin@gmail.com

 

Carla C. Keirns, MD, PhD, MSc, FACP

University of Kansas Medical Center

9923 Harrison Street

Kansas City, MO 64131

215-840-2926

Carlakeirns@gmail.com

 

Intended Audience:

All Levels of Experience

All Attendees

 

Brief Session Description:

Blindness is a low incidence disability. Advocating for blind students presents specific issues such as determining the appropriateness of Braille, shortages of qualified evaluators and instructors in many areas of the country, and ongoing issues such as provision of accessible instructional materials. This session provides an overview of issues to consider when advocating for blind and visually impaired students.

 

Presenters’ Biography:

Katherine Alstrin is the principal of Insight Consulting, an advocacy firm focused on special education advocacy for blind and visually impaired children. She is also the founder of the Equal Access Collaborative to provide access to free advocacy services for blind and visually impaired children whose families cannot afford standard advocacy fees. She has nearly 25 years’ experience as a teacher and is certified in special education, teaching blind and visually impaired students (TVI), and is a certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS). She is currently completing her doctorate in the area of education of blind students.

 

Carla Keirns is assistant professor of medical ethics and palliative care at the University of Kansas Medical Center, where she teaches medicine, medical ethics and health policy. She is the mother of a blind elementary school student, a member of the board of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, and appointed by the Commissioner of Education to the State of Missouri’s Blind Task Force. 

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