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SEAT 2.0 Instructors
 

 

Gretchen Adams is the owner of Ohio Special Education Advocacy and has over 10 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. She also holds a SEAT Certificate from COPAA (Cohort II 2013.  By 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.

 

 As a parent of 2 children (one in college and the other in high school) who are both gifted and have special needs, she knows firsthand what it's like to sit on the parent's side of the table.   Gretchen has a keen interest in supporting families in navigating the often-complicated process of special education to bring assistance to students.  Her cumulative career and professional experiences have helped her to inform and ensure parents are aware of their rights and options.

 

 In addition to providing professional advocacy services, Gretchen also works as the SEAT Program Manager 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.  She is an Instructor and Teaching Assistant for the SEAT programs, and has presented a break out session on IEP’s at the COPAA Conference.

 
 

 

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.

 
 

Lorraine Bees (OH) started Lorraine Bees Advocacy, LLC in order to assist families to improve the educational experience and outcome for children with special needs and to empower parents to become effective advocates. Beginning in 2008, she began providing services to families in Northeastern Ohio centering on navigating and working through the special education process, assisting families to secure Medicaid and Developmental Disability (DD) services and to set up home-based programs.

 

Lorraine participates in various training sessions for small groups and the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Special Education Conferences. She is a teaching assistant and instructor for COPAA’s Special Education Advocacy Training (SEAT) program and a presenter for COPAA conferences and Webinar series. In 2012-2013, she served as Board Member and Treasurer of Disability Rights Ohio. She also served as a Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities Transition Task Force member ensuring the smooth transition of county workshops, community employment services and adult day services to private providers.

Lorraine has two adult children one of which has multiple and severe challenges.  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.

 
  David Beinke (TX)  - David is the "SpecialED Marine."  He is a former COPAA Board member and active in TX and IL.  David is a co-chair of COPAA's Advocate Committee and is a mentor to many advocates and families. 
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Eileen Crumm, PhD., (CA) is a longtime COPAA member who serves on the training committee and as a SEAT instructor.  Eileen works as theExecutive Director of a nonprofit in northern California that serves families of children with developmental delays, disabilities, social emotional concerns and special health care needs.  Eileen and the multi-cultural, multilingual peer parent staff work with about 2500 families a year,  helping with community services including IEPs and IFSPs.   Eileen participates in Family Voices of California, Help Me Grow Alameda County and the Family Resource Center Network of California.   She has worked for the local Parent Training and Information Center (DREDF), as a special education advocate in private practice, and as a university professor.  Eileen is the proud parent of two young adults, one with physical disabilities.


 
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Cynthia Daniels-Hall (NC), is the parent of children with diagnoses on the autism spectrum.  Cynthia is a special education advocate and owner of EveryChild Solutions, an education advocacy business. Cynthia is an advocate member of COPAA, a Black American female born in the southeast, raised in the northeast, and now live in North Carolina in the southern eastern region of the USA.  As a person who was raised in a family of educators, and as the parent of young adults with disabilities, she understands the process from a unique and personal perspective.  Cynthia understands how the inconsistent implementation of special education laws by public school systems affects parents and their children. As a military spouse, having lived in six states, she realizes that when helping parents obtain a free appropriate public education for their children in the least restrictive environment, any solution must be tailored to their individual child and their situation.  Cynthia interest in serving on COPAA Board and committees is advocate training promoting the development of knowledge and skills necessary to support, inform, and empower parent's participation in the special education process. 

 
 
 

Barbara Ebenstein, Esq. ("BJ") (NY)

Barbara J. Ebenstein 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 Educ

 

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David Jefferson (AZ) As a parent of special needs children, David understands and appreciates all of the difficulties parent’s face as they try and navigate the special education maze.  David formed Parent Support Arizona to ensure parents have a local resource and the tools they need to ensure their children’s educational needs are met. Over the past few years, David has sought administrative remedies through the State Department of Education, Office of Administrative Hearings OCR and FERPA.  David uses these experiences to provide civil rights advocacy, educational advocacy, parent training and represent parents in IDEA due process hearings in the State of Arizona.  In addition he offers self-help tools and resources that allow parents to advocate for themselves and on an equal footing with schools as they advocate for their children’s rights. 

 
 white man with hat on, grey beard Michael Kaczor (NM) - Michael is an advocate in New Mexico who has served students and families for many years. He is an excellent speaker and focuses efforts at interstate advocacy to reach undersserved areas. 
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Mark Kamleiter, Esq. (FL) is the founder of Special Education Law and Advocacy, a Florida law firm offering mixed legal and professional advocacy services.  As a former special education teacher and behavior specialist, Mark is able to bring a unique combination of educational and legal knowledge to bear in his representation of children with disabilities.  The law firm has grown to include three attorneys, three professional advocates, a paralegal, a law clerk, an accountant, and a file clerk.  Today the firm offers services throughout the state. As a long-time advocate for the rights of children with disabilities, Mark serves on the board of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA).  In Florida, Mark helped to found and provides some leadership in the Florida Association of Special Education Attorneys.  A frequent state and national speaker and presenter on issues related to the education of children with disabilities, Mark represents children with disabilities in school meetings, formal complaints, due process and in Federal Court, where he advocates for their appropriate education in public school systems.

 
 

Claudia Roberts, (FL) have a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas at El Paso and a Doctor of Jurisprudence, with honors from the University of Texas School of Law. At the time my son was diagnosed with autism I was a practicing attorney in Texas and New Mexico.  I am not currently engaged in the practice of law in any jurisdiction. When we moved to Florida I chose to work as an advocate rather than an attorney. I have my own advocacy practice in the Tampa Bay area. The focus of my practice is the support and empowerment of students with disabilities and their families. This includes empowering students with disabilities to self-identify and self-advocate.  Some areas of particular interest are students with “hidden” disabilities, autism, mental health issues, transition, and adopted and foster children. 

 
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Paula Senigar (CA) is a Special Education Advocate who has helped hundreds of families to navigate the complexities of Special Education. Paula is She is a graduate of SEAT, Instructor for SEAT 1.0 and a TA for the SEAT 2.0 level course. She also supports special needs families by helping them identify and secure necessary services from medical insurance companies and Regional Centers. She has been married 21 years and has two children. Her youngest child has an autism diagnosis and is eligible for special education services. 

 
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