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F-4. Parent Preliminaries: An Overview of What to Expect for Parents in the Special Education World


One Day Session

Friday, March 9th

9:00 am - 5:00 PM

Audience Category: Parent

Audience Level of Expertise: Novice/Intermediate


Brief Session Description:

Effective advocacy for your child is essential!  Advocating for your child is multi-faceted and this workshop provides all the basics you need.  While knowledge of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is pivotal in advocating for your child, it does not stand alone.  There are many other elements to effective strategy.  It is also important to understand other federal laws that effect children and how they interact with the IDEA.  How to communicate and negotiate with school districts in a way that builds trust and relationships while meeting your clients’ needs is paramount.  This workshop covers each and every one of these key principles in establishing effective advocacy.




Dana A. Jonson, JD, MSEd

Law Offices of Dana A. Jonson, LLC

Bethel, CT 06801



Audra Mae Talbot

Special Education Advocate

Daly Consulting



Presenter(s) Biography(ies):

Dana A. Jonson, JD, MSEd is in private practice in Connecticut.  Her practice is focused exclusively on the representation of children with disabilities through the Special Education Process.  Her professional experience helping families through these challenging issues in school districts across the state includes representation at PPTs and Mediation, as well as litigation in Due Process and Federal Court.  Dana is a graduate of the Northeastern University School of Law.  She also holds a Master of Science degree in Education from Simmons College, with a focus on Intensive Special Needs, and an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Fairfield University.  Prior to attending law school, Dana worked as a special education teacher and administrator in Boston, MA.  Dana is a member of COPAA and currently serves on the COPAA Board of Directors.


As a parent advocate, Audra Mae Talbot is devoted to working with parents and school districts to find the right balance of what is educationally fair and appropriate for children with special needs. There is no room for an adequate education when it comes to your child.   Her experience in the realm of special education has given her the opportunity to help parents of children with special needs gain the knowledge and support for obtaining the services needed to realize full potential.   Her goal as an advocate is to empower parents. She is a strong believer that teaching parents builds confidence within them to become informed advocates for their own children. It is her job to help facilitate that learning and to foster continued positive communication with school districts.   She is a proud parent of two special needs children. So, she has a deep understanding of the challenges families face with educational planning and placement, as well as what it takes to manage "life".  She has a strong personal understanding of military families and their children with special needs, as her family was once an active duty family. The geographical transitions within the military can be a source of anxiety when planning for the educational needs of children that require special education services.  Member of Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and completed COPAA Special Education Advocate Training (SEAT) as well as two Advocate Internships before and after the SEAT course. She currently serves on the COPAA Membership Committee, CT State Advisory Council on Special Education (SAC), Bristol Special Education Parent Teacher Organization (SEPTO) and the CT Special Education Parent Teacher Alliance (CT SEPTO Alliance).

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