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

 
wonan with short grey hair and glasses wearing a pink suit    Judith Gran, Esq.  (NJ & PA) Judith  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 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. 
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Michele Kule-Korgood, Esq. (NY) has devoted over twenty-two years in private practice to representing parents of children with disabilities in order to secure an effective education for their children.  While studying psychology as an undergraduate, Michele became a personal care assistant for a classmate with cerebral palsy. Her classmate’s refusal to be defined by his disability inspired Michele to pursue a career in teaching special education. Years later, as a special education teacher, Michele’s efforts to help a student obtain assistive technology, so he could have a voice in the world, again changed the course of her life.  In order to effect change for a greater number of people, she decided to attend law school and become a legal advocate on behalf of people with disabilities.  Michele has successfully handled thousands of matters in special education, ensuring that every child receives equal access to the high quality education to which he or she is entitled. Nationally, Michele speaks frequently on special education law and policy.   She has chaired many conferences, and presented on various topics in special education law at numerous conferences, including those held by the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), the New York State Bar Association, the Practicing Law Institute, and Lehigh University, and at various agencies which provide education and advocacy services.  Michele is the Immediate Past Chair of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), and serves on its board, as well as the board of the Center for Learning Differences. Michele has argued and presented cases involving novel issues in the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Eastern and Southern District Courts, the Appellate Division and state Supreme Court (including as lead counsel, along with Greenberg, Traurig, in the landmark decision of Mr. and Mrs. A v. N.Y. City Dep’t of Educ. (S.D.N.Y. 2011), holding that the exercise of rights under IDEA cannot be made to depend on the financial means of a disabled child’s parents, and extending the right for direct tuition payment to schools for parents without economic means, pursuant to the Burlington/Carter analysis). She has a number of published decisions in various courts in special education and additional education-related areas of law.


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Jennifer Laviano, Esq. (CT) is an attorney in private practice in Connecticut who focuses on the representation of children and adolescents under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Her representation includes attendance at IEP team meetings and mediation and zealous advocacy in litigation in due process hearings and federal court.  Attorney Laviano is a regular presenter, locally and nationally, on the Civil Rights of students with disabilities, and is the co-author of the popular book, Your Special Education Rights:  What Your School District Isn't Telling You.

 
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Denise Marshall, M.S., 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.

 
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Mark Martin, Esq. (MD)  represents individuals and families throughout Maryland and has many years of experience in litigating special education, juvenile delinquency, criminal and civil rights cases.  Before entering private practice, Mr. Martin   was the litigation director of the Public Justice Center, a non-profit organization in Baltimore, Maryland, where he managed and litigated class action and other high impact cases involving children's rights and civil rights.  Prior to that, The Legal Aid Society of New York employed him as a criminal defense attorney where he represented indigent defendants in New York City.  Mr. Martin has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education and United Cerebral Palsy of Central Maryland (UCP).  Annually, Mr. Martin helps lead a program at the national conference for the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) in advanced litigation for attorneys who represent families in special education proceedings.  Mr. Martin is a past Chair of the COPAA Board of Directors.  He regularly presents throughout Maryland on issues related to special education law, student rights pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and student discipline issues.  Law Offices of Mark B. Martin, P.A. is a firm with extensive experience advocating for the rights of children and individuals with disabilities.  The firm’s practice centers on special education law, suspension and expulsion cases, and juvenile delinquency hearings.  Additional areas of experience include state and federal criminal defense, civil rights actions and estate planning.  

 
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Jonathan A. Zimring, Esq. (GA) has a primary practice in education law with decades of experience in educational and other civil rights. Mr. Zimring a graduate of Duke University School of Law was Director of the Georgia Mental Disability Law Project, funded by the ABA Commission on Mental Disability to provide representation to persons with disabilities and then education law specialist for the Georgia Legal Services Program. He has been chairman of the State Bar of Georgia Mental Health and the Law Committee and Chairman of its School and College Law Section, the ABA/Younger Lawyer's Section on Law and the Handicapped.  He has presented in numerous CLE programs for judges, attorneys and educators on educational rights, special education and civil rights issues and here at COPAA. He was guardian ad litem in Olmstead v. L.C. and E.W. ex rel Zimring, 527 U.S. 581(1999), which established that separate placement and services was discrimination under the ADA.   Mr. Zimring is on the COPAA Board of Directors.

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