1 Day Pre-Conference Trainings
Presenters: Mark Kamleiter, Esq. and David Beinke, Advocate Audience: Advanced Advocates (S.E.A.T Graduates or Advocates with 5+ years experience)Description: This day-long seminar has been designed for the advocate who has already been trained and who already has had significant experience in the field, but who wants something more, who wants an advocacy seminar which builds upon, broadens, and strengthens an already effective advocacy practice. The co-presenters have chosen six stand-alone topics, The Power IEP, Mastering Behavior, Managing Placement Issues and LRE, and Advocate/Attorney Collaboration & UPL, Mentoring, Organizing, and Impacting Policy Issues. Materials will include specific statutes, regulations, due process cases, OCR decisions, OSEP letters, SEA complaints, and templates.
Let’s take advocacy to a new level.
Presenters: Mark Martin, Esq. and Carol Quirk, Ed.D.Audience: All AttendeesDescription: Students with disabilities and challenging behavior are at risk for exclusion from school with significant implications for their future. In this workshop, an attorney and educator discuss IDEA regulations regarding removal for behavioral concerns, rights of the student, IEP team process, and implications for due process. Students with disabilities whose behavior puts them at risk for removal from the classroom are entitled to assessments, interventions, and protections from undo exclusion from their neighborhood school and the general education class. In this session, an attorney experienced in representing clients in hearings and due process and an educator experienced in creating behavior intervention plans provide information regarding student rights and school responsibilities. Participants have a case study to follow as an example of the process at various decision points.
Presenters: Alice Nelson, Esq. and Jon Zimring, Esq. Audience: AttorneysDescription: This highly acclaimed one day session is a must for attorneys considering federal litigation. The program focuses on litigation strategies, including the pros and cons of continuing to prosecute a case after an adverse decision. Participants explore the issues of exhausting administrative remedies, statute of limitations, defense of counter-claims, attorneys’ fees, the standard of review, the admission of additional evidence, the discovery process under IDEA, possible claims in addition to the IDEA, and defining client expectations. This workshop is designed for attorneys who have, at a minimum, IDEA due process litigation experience and targets initiating and completing a federal appeal. It is recommended that participants have already completed COPAA’s New Attorney and Due Process skills trainings.
2 Day Pre-Conference Trainings
Presenters: Jennifer Laviano, Esq., Barbara Ebenstein, Esq., Craig Goodmark, Esq. and Wayne Steedman, Esq.Audience: AttorneysDescription: This program is for attorneys who are familiar with the IDEA who want to focus on and practice skills for impartial due process hearings. Large group discussions cover important pre-hearing tasks, from complying with 10-day notice provisions to requesting appropriate remedies like compensatory education. In smaller groups based on experience level, participants review records for consideration as exhibits, identify key issues, discuss strategies for drafting a comprehensive Due Process Hearing Complaint, and establish a trial plan. There are discussions and demonstrations of how to prepare and organize opening statements, direct and cross examinations, and how to handle potential objections. Participants are given individual critique during each exercise by experienced special education attorneys.
Presenters: Catherine Michael, Esq., Missy Alexander, AdvocateAudience: Advocates Description: The Advocate Training Course is a two day pre-conference event. This Parent Advocate Program provides both new and experienced Parent Advocates a clear understanding of the Advocacy process starting from the business of Advocacy to ensuring that Advocates have a strong hold on the rights of children with disabilities. Day One of this seminar focuses on the role of the advocate and includes an intensive overview of the law, and review of changes and case law in areas such as evaluation and eligibility, discipline, ESY, FAPE, and Stay-Put. Day Two focuses on issue spotting Educational and Discrimination issues with clients, learning and practicing negotiation tactics and strategies within the IEP process and developing strong IEPs. The second half of Day Two focuses on dispute resolution within the law and how to ensure the protection of the parent and child's rights.
Presenters: Selene Almazan, Esq., Jodi Siegel, Esq., Dawn R. Smith, Esq., and Franklin Hickman, Esq.Audience: AttorneysDescription: This is a two day introductory program designed for attorneys who are just beginning their special education practice. Participants learn basic special education law and procedure as well as strategies and practice tips
for handling special education cases. Program includes an overview of the
IDEA and Section 504, then focuses on practical skills in taking a case from the
initial client interview to the due process request. We are not addressing skills
and issues that arise in a due process proceeding as that is covered in the
pre-conference session “Attorneys' Impartial Due Process Hearing Training”. We work in a combination of large and small groups led by experienced
practitioners in special education.
Presenter: Linda Karr O’ConnorAudience: All AttendeesDescription: This two day is a hands-on session on research. Through demonstrations and exercises with expert supervision, participants learn effective online search techniques, the use of databases to locate peer-reviewed research, and how to compile a legislative history. The class is led by an experienced law librarian knowledgeable about special education issues. This class is open to computer-literate attorneys, advocates, and parents with sufficient experience to conduct complex research; a phone interview with the instructor is required to determine approval for enrollment. For the hands-on portions, attendees work on their own laptops with internet connections provided at the conference hotel, and so attendees must bring a laptop computer.
Josh Kershenbaum, Esq. and Dave Frankel, Esq.Audience: All AttendeesDescription: From the classroom, to the courtroom, to the newsroom, America is waking up to the complex and troubling new reality of bullying. As the dangers of ignoring bullying are made tragically clear on an almost daily basis, we as parents, attorneys and advocates must confront this crisis by learning how to identify, prevent, punish and stop bullying in all its forms. The law is playing an increasingly important role in defining the responsibilities of schools, parents and children. As a result, understanding this legal landscape is essential for everyone who is involved in helping families successfully navigate a bullying crisis. Participants engage in practical, hands-on and highly interactive experiences to learn how to handle a bullying case from intake through resolution. The experiences are based on an actual bullying case that the instructors are presently litigating in federal court. Participants grapple with a wide range of legal issues and equally challenging ethical and practical difficulties inherent in representing and protecting victims of bullying including how the media can play a role in your litigation strategy. Participants learn how to evaluate potential cases, conduct effective pre-complaint intake and prepare a legally sufficient complaint. Legal issues examined include: Cyberbullying, Title IX, Section 1983, IDEA/504, state tort claims (e.g., negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, invasion of privacy and civil conspiracy), parental liability, student liability, Tort Claims Act immunity and First Amendment issues.
Alice Nelson, Esq. and Leslie Seid Margolis, Esq. Audience: All AttendeesDescription:
An interactive one day workshop on the use of restraint and seclusion in our schools. A one day workshop, lead by experienced presenters, addresses the definitions of restraint and seclusion and their use on school children, investigative and advocacy strategies to minimizing or preventing the use of restraint and seclusion, and the state and federal policy issues that provide the context for school-based restraint and seclusion work. Case scenarios and small groups are utilized, and participants are provided with COPAA’s recently published manual, “The Right to be Safe in School: Advocacy and Litigation Strategies to Combat the Use of Restraint and Seclusion.”
Jon Zimring, Esq. and Mark Martin, Esq.Audience: AttorneyDescription: This one day session is for attorneys with basic due process experience looking for specific information on creating a winning paradigm for due process cases, including planning for remedies. Utilizing litigation scenarios from actual cases attendees discuss the following topics: drafting the complaint, insufficiency, exhaustion considerations, dispute resolution mechanisms, settlement, and mediation. Participants also learn strategies for pre-trial fact gathering and discovery; pre-trial motions and five day document exchanges; demonstrative evidence; affirmative witnesses; proving your case; litigating and winning procedural violations, witness selection and presentation, and, finally completing the puzzle, including post-evidence tasks and final decisions.
Michele Kule-Korgood, Esq..Audience: All Attendees (Advocates/Parents that are S.E.A.T graduates or have 5+ years advocate experience)Description: The “stay put” or “pendency” provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (20 U.S.C. §1415(j)) provides that a student with a disability will remain in their last agreed upon educational placement during the course of due process proceedings. At times, determining a student’s last agreed upon placement can be vey difficult and contentious. The intersection of the growing body of case law and the IDEA’s statutory provisions regarding pendency has produced a variety of situations where the child’s pendency during due process is unclear. This session provides an in-depth analysis of the IDEA’s “stay put” provision, as well as the various ways in which a hearing officer can determine a child’s “stay put” or pendency placement. During the session, participants also have a chance to analyze and discuss case studies and hypotheticals.
Larry and Tracy have primary roles in the acclaimed film Wretches & Jabberers. The two men with autism embark on a global quest to change attitudes about disability and intelligence. Determined to put a new face on autism, Tracy Thresher, 42, and Larry Bissonnette, 52, travel to Sri Lanka, Japan and Finland. At each stop, they dissect public attitudes about autism and issue a hopeful challenge to reconsider competency and the future.
Presented By: Longtime COPAA Member Dr. Ann Simun. Ann has been working professionally with children with learning and behavioral challenges since 1989. She is a licensed psychologist (PSY20113), with a specialization in neuropsychology. She also is a credentialed and experienced School Psychologist, making her eligible to conduct IEEs for school district disputes. She was also licensed as an Educational Psychologist. She is especially effective in cases involving IEPs and public schools due to her extensive experience working in the public schools. She works closely with parents, schools, and attorneys/advocates to help create appropriate, effective and individualized programs for children with special needs. She uses a science-based approach to examining the basis of the youngster's learning challenges, and programmatic needs.
Breakout Sessions I
Presenter: Judith Gran, Esq., Catherine Reisman, Esq. Audience: Attorneys Audience Experience: NoviceDescription: What claims do I pursue? Can I wait and see if the school district appeals before I file my Complaint in federal court? What is the most effective way to present the claims? This session discusses the mechanics, strategy and ethical considerations in drafting a Complaint for federal court through examples of Complaints in several Circuits, to show how the style and manner of pleading varies greatly from Circuit to Circuit (and even from practitioner to practitioner). Emphasis is on practical applications and the actual mechanics of putting out a Complaint.
Presenter: Richard L. O'Meara, Esq., Nicole L. Bradick, Esq. Audience: All Attendees Audience Experience: IntermediateDescription: This presentation explores the legal issues related to the interpretation of the dual provisions in IDEA requiring the informed consent of parents for evaluations and provision of special education services. The IDEA contains a requirement of informed parental consent for initial evaluations and reevaluations, and also for the initial provision of special education and related services for children with disabilities. Neither the statute or regulations defines the concept of “informed consent,”however, and many school districts obtain parental acquiescence without providing them with much information at all. Is this legal? The IDEA also discusses methods by which school districts can override the wishes of parents who decline consent for evaluation, and the parameters of parental partial or full revocation of consent for special education services, both of which remain somewhat mysterious concepts. The presenters review the statutory and regulatory requirements, and describe the rulings of hearing officers and courts interpreting the scope of parental rights in this growing area of the law, including how declining or revoking consent may affect a student’s program.
Presenter: Tracey Walsh, Esq. and Carol Fiorile, PhDAudience: All Attendees Audience Experience: IntermediateDescription: The presentation focuses on autism and autism cases in due process. Autism is complex and when working toward developing an appropriate educational plan for a student with autism, parents, advocates and attorneys must understand what an appropriate educational plan should look and sound like. This presentation combines the expertise of an autism behaviorist and an autism lawyer.
Presenter: Lana L. Traynor, Esq. Audience: All Attendees Audience Experience: NoviceDescription: With the assistance of a skilled facilitator, IEP/ARD meetings can be productive and pain-free! Facilitated meetings can decrease litigation, foster collaboration, and keep the focus where it should be - on the student. This presentation, based on years of experience, provides practical information about facilitated meetings.
This presentation explains the four “W's”of a facilitated IEP/ARD meeting:
• What is a facilitated IEP/ARD meeting?
• When and Why should you request a facilitated IEP/ARD meeting?
• Who serves as a facilitator?
The presenter shares tips for the planning, preparation, participation, and followup necessary for a successful facilitated IEP/ARD meeting. Equally important is the follow-up to a facilitated IEP/ARD meeting. Attendees receive written checklist(s), designed by the presenter after years of experience with facilitated IEP/ARD meetings, to assist in the planning/participation of future facilitated meetings.
Presenters: Susan Bruce and Mary EaddyAudience: All Attendees Audience Experience: IntermediateDescription: Research can be a time consuming and tedious task. The ability to locate, identify and utilize research based practices and regulatory guidance is one of the most valuable advocacy tools in the parent advocates arsenal. The Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network (TA&D) is an underutilized FREE tool which offers research based data on nearly every education issue. The TA&D Network consists of 40 projects funded under Part D, Discretionary Grants of the IDEA, by the US Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, most being vetted by the US DOE as well. Whether looking for research based data on behavior of children, best educational practices, dispute resolution information, IDEA regulatory information, or any other education information, the TA&D Network is the one stop place to search. A special emphasis will be placed on the OSEP funded projects which address some of the most significant issues facing advocates nationally, The RtI Action Network, IDEA Building the Legacy (regulatory guidance), CADRE (Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution), the Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, NICHCY, and NSTTAC (National Secondary Transitioning Technical Assistance Center).
Presenters: Jennifer Lowman, Esq., Maura McInerney, Esq. Audience: All AttendeesAudience Experience: IntermediateDescription: The “school choice”movement focuses on shifting K-12 educational opportunities and resources away from public schools operated by school districts and toward private organizations through the establishment of charter schools and tuition vouchers. Additional education alternatives may exist through magnet schools or other limited enrolment programs operated by public school districts. This presentation asks whether these educational options provide real opportunity or false hope for students with disabilities. School choice and related K-12 school reform issues have a significant impact on children with disabilities and their families, teachers, administrators, and taxpayers. The strong trend toward school choice in local, state, and federal policy is fundamentally changing education and the delivery of teaching and learning for students with disabilities. School choice raises immense challenges for inclusion, the provision of accommodations and supports, and compliance with IDEA and other laws protecting the education rights of children with disabilities. Insufficient emphasis has been placed on the implications of school choice for students with disabilities, their families, their teachers, and their schools. If school choice improves educational options, then this will benefit the lives of individuals with disabilities. The opposite will be true if school choice undermines inclusion and the quality of services offered to students with disabilities. In order to better understand these crucial issues, this presentation examines the expansion of school choice policies in Pennsylvania and across the country. Developments in Pennsylvania in recent years are similar to what is happening in many other states. The presentation focuses on inclusion and the civil rights of students with disabilities, as well as compliance with IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and other relevant laws. Original legal analysis and data will be presented along with national research published by others about school choice issues.
Presenters: Barbara J. (BJ) Ebenstein, Esq. Audience: Attorneys Audience Experience: IntermediateDescription: Most special education attorneys and advocates work in small law firms, solo practices, or agencies where they must develop their own retainer forms, marketing materials, fee structure, online presence, and business policies. The economic climate and the reverse legal fee shift provisions of the IDEA require attorneys to reconsider their entire professional relationship with clients and revise their retainer agreements accordingly. Professional advocates face similar issues and may not be immune from the reverse fee shift if they represent parents in due process hearings. This session examines different kinds of fee arrangements, reject letters, the components of a good retainer agreement, sample agreement clauses, cash flow in a challenging economy, and ethical marketing in the digital age. Samples of retainer provisions, marketing materials, and other documents are provided.
Presenters: Dana Jonson, Esq., Jennifer Laviano, Esq. Audience: Advocates and/or ParentsAudience Experience: NoviceDescription: No matter where you are in the special education process, as a parent, you need to not only understand your rights, but why they are important and how they play out in the real world of IEP meetings, Mediations, and Due Process Hearings. This workshop explores six core principals of the IDEA: Free appropriate public education (FAPE), Appropriate Evaluation, Individualized Education Program (IEP), Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), Parent Involvement, and Procedural Safeguards and explains how parents can practically apply them. Practical tools are provided to parents, with basic information necessary to create a productive working relationship with their IEP team, navigate the special education system, identify when a dispute arises, and address that dispute productively.
Breakout Sessions II
Presenters: Ann Simun, PsyD, N. Jane DuBovy, Esq. Audience: All Attendees Audience Experience: Intermediate Description: An experienced educational law attorney and clinical neuropsychologist teach participants to obtain, understand and utilize independent psychological assessments in IEP meetings, mediation, and due process hearings. Presenters discuss the legal, clinical, and strategic issues regarding obtaining, using, and beneifting from psychological IEEs. Detailed information is presented regarding funding, legal rights, and how to manage typical roadblocks. Participants learn and practice how to use this information for strategy, IEP meetings, writing goals, and during hearings. Specific information on choosing assessors, funding, and understanding assessment information is shared and participants learn how to spot a good versus a shoddy assessment, to interpret test scores, and how to measure progress over time.
Presenters: Jesse Cutler, Esq. , Samantha Bernstein, Esq., Gregory Cangiano, Esq. Audience: AttorneyAudience Experience: IntermediateDescription: The Supreme Court's1982 Rowley decision, interpreting the IDEA’s judicial review provision, has become virtually unrecognizable, with many Courts of Appeals leaning towards a “clearly erroneous”standard. The concern is that the departure from due deference to blind deference is not a standard of review at all, but a mandate to courts to rubber stamp administrative decisions below. The IDEA’s judicial review provision provides that either party has the right to bring their action in district court. In that instance, the Act requires reviewing courts to “receive the record of the state administrative proceedings, hear additional evidence at the request of a party, and, basing its decision on the preponderance of the evidence, grant such relief as the court determines is appropriate.”The administrative record in IDEA cases may have involved more than one administrative proceeding below, and thus these records can be quite extensive. Since Rowley, Circuit Courts of Appeals have interpreted the deference rule narrowly, often limiting judges’ powers to review IDEA cases at all. Many Circuits have created their own standards of review that depart significantly from the language of the Act itself and violate Rowley’s express language. This presentation discusses this trend in the Circuits, the inherent consequences to parents in a blind deference jurisdiction, and attempts to outline some of the ways parents’ attorneys can overcome such a strict deference standard.
Presenter: Shani King, J.D. and Gabriela Ruiz, Esq.Audience: AdvocateAudience Experience: IntermediateDescription: : The IDEA permits individuals with special knowledge or training with respect to the needs of children with disabilities to advise and counsel parents. However, there is a line between this type of advocacy and the unauthorized practice of law, and some advocates and attorneys working outside their jurisdictions have had to respond to allegations that they are engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. This presentation explores the law governing the unauthorized practice of law, including which jurisdictions permit advocates to represent parents in due process proceedings. The presentation includes a review of cases that have specifically addressed the unauthorized practice of law in the context of special education, the presentation covers practical suggestions and best practices.
Presenter: Kaitlin Banner, Esq., Joseph Tulman, Esq., Laura Rinaldi, Esq., Ramesh Kasarabada, Esq. Audience: All AttendeesAudience Experience: IntermediateDescription: Learn about innovative organization strategies that provide representation and services for youth with disabilities in non-tradition ways. The focus of this session is on the three organizing strategies that staff at the Took Crowell Institute for At-Risk Youth are using to advance the educational opportunities of young people with disabilities in D.C. Participants learn about innovative methods for organizing communities to support youth with disabilities, and have the opportunity to discuss how to create, implement, or support similar projects around the country. The Suspending Suspensions Project aims to stop illegal and excessive school discipline in D.C. public and public charter schools. Presenters discuss how to train delinquency attorneys to combine special education and delinquency advocacy; how to mobilize law students to represent parents at disciplinary hearings; and how to use the Burlington remedy to create meaningful transition services and job training programs.
Presenters: Michelle R. Davis, M. Ed., Audience: All Attendees Audience Experience: IntermediateDescription: Parent Counseling and Training is one of the least utilized related services allowed by IDEA. It can be the most necessary service for a child with a disability. To understand how to obtain this service, it is important to explore how definitions for "Related Services" are applied, including important concepts such as: Data collection, meaningful progress, FAPE, and benefit to the child. Parents and educators need to know when the school district is obligated to provide Parent Counseling and Training, or when the district may be required to fund privately-obtained services. Participants learn how Parent Counseling and Training makes a difference in the provision of a FAPE, and how it positively affects parent-school partnerships.
Presenter: Richard Peterson, J.D., MDR, LLMAudience: Advocate and/or ParentAudience Experience: NoviceDescription: This presentation introduces a template called “Six Steps to Connecting the Dots”for use in developing a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), providing objective analysis of substantive issues involved in the process, accountability, and overcoming the persistence of low expectations. “Six Steps to Connecting the Dots”is a template meant to assure that the IEP team answers critical questions, providing essential information necessary to objectively measure whether or not a student is making progress in their program and receiving a free and appropriate public education. IEP’S are too often developed in generic fashion, without individualization, and without the structure and specificity necessary to assess progress and provide for educator accountability.
Presenter: Mark S. Kamleiter, Esq., Leslie Lipson, Esq. Audience: All AttendeesAudience: IntermediateDescription: A fast-paced workshop on the use of social and electronic media in your practice and for community advocacy work. Social media is an umbrella term for digital tools that allow you to share information and network with others. Initial discussions include the positives, negatives, and unintended consequences of the use of social media. Included are direct, fast-paced demonstrations using (Computer screen projections) of the tools of Social Media: Facebook Business Pages, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and metrics/measures. Knowing how to use the tools is a specific skill and one must also have a social media strategy to guides usage, outcome measurement and goals. Additionally, the match between the tool, the audience and the content of the message is explored. Learn the positives, negatives, and potential dangers of launching into these media, available safeguards, how to measure the effectiveness , and how to convert engagement into meaningful conversation and build relationships with your online community.
Presenters: Selene Almazan, Esq., Heather Allcock, Ph.DAudience: All Attendees Audience Experience: IntermediateDescription: Obtaining a school placement in a neighborhood school for a student with disabilities based on the least restrictive environment (LRE) requirement of the IDEA, can be difficult to accomplish unless parents and advocates have both a solid understanding of the statutory framework and the case law that interprets it, and an understanding of how to craft and present a persuasive argument based upon IEP goals. This session explains the intricacies of LRE law, advocacy as well as the practical strategies to develop appropriate IEP goals and pave the path for a successful transition to general education classrooms.
Breakout Sessions III
Presenters: Rosemary N. Palmer, Esq.Audience: All Attendees Audience Experience: NoviceDescription: This presentation differs from typical Section 504/ADA training in that it does not include discussion of the elements or related legal issues. Instead 113 common 504/ADA violations by schools, and 30 ways School Districts retaliate are discussed. One of the reasons that discrimination continues is that presentations on Section 504 and ADA rarely comprehensively examine specific violations, so school staff has difficulty imaging that what they do could be discrimination. Parents, advocates, and attorneys have the ability to prompt the change that Congress intended by requiring entities to conduct self-audits when Section 504 and ADA were passed by learning to recognize the ways that schools discriminate and learning how to ask the questions to rule out nondiscriminatory reasons for those actions, in persuading schools to do things differently. Participants are invited to share additional examples of violations.
Presenters: Louis H. Geigerman Audience: Advocate and/or Parent Audience Experience: NoviceDescription: Bullying has reached epidemic levels in recent years. Many bullying situations tragically end with suicide. Children with disabilities are prime victims of bullying. Student-on -student bulling is not a new phenomenon. Society has long taken the position that bullying is just a part of growing up. However, in todays society, students cannot easily get away from harassment. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are an integral part of the social landscape for today's teens. Unfortunately when a student leaves the school house and arrives home, they are often bombarded with cyperbullying which can have a deleterious impact on self esteem. The presenter represented a family of a child that was the victim of relentless bullying, and tragically the child ended his young life. This session examines the warning signs that indicate a student has been a victim of bullying and empower parents and advocates to end the bullying cycle.
Presenter: Lydia H. Soifer, Ph.D., Heather Ironside, M.S.Audience: All Attendees Audience Experience: NoviceDescription: Good oral language skills are essential to literacy development and academic success. A properly performed language evaluation can provide valuable information for advocates in developing a case and/or an appropriate IEP for a student with a learning disability. Understanding the nature and impact of a child’s language system is essential to providing an appropriate education and to establishing meaningful goals and objectives. This is more realistically achieved with information obtained from a well conducted language evaluation within the context of an educational setting. A comprehensive language evaluation establishes functioning at basic levels of language (semantic and syntactic) and uses that information as the foundation of investigations into higher levels of language (thinking, reasoning, problem solving, narrative) and literacy (phonological and phonemic awareness, decoding, comprehension and writing) that affect school and social functioning. In addition, a truly valid language evaluation includes the relationship of aspects of cognitive functioning, e.g., memory, attention, executive functions to language performance and answers the following questions: What does this test actually test?; How does this test actually evaluate this skill?; How shall I evaluate the effect of different formats on skill sets in performance?; and What did I learn from observing the performance of test response? The evaluation process must be more than test administration and score reportage. True assessment with the goal of defining appropriate intervention requires data analysis and interpretation.
Presenters: Jennie DunKleyAudience: All Attendees Audience Experience: IntermediateDescription: Parents, advocates and attorneys often struggle with a disconnect between personal observations that a student is floundering and school assertions that “She’s doing so well. She has met her IEP goals. She is making effective progress.” Documentation drives advocacy. It is not enough to just say a child is failing; there has to be proof. Effective progress, or lack thereof, is determined through documented skill development. Because one can document only what one can measure, an immeasurable, non-specific IEP goal remains nothing but a slogan, such as “Jane’s reading will improve! Without well-written, specific goals, a Team can’t determine if progress has been made, can’t genuinely assess whether a student’s progress is “effective”and, finally, may be left powerless to negotiate the IEP changes a student needs to obtain FAPE.
We all know that IEP goals should be:
• based on the unique needs of the individual student
• easy to understand
• contain specific current performance levels with
• comparable benchmarks/objectives, and
• provide a functional measurement methodology
This workshop provides tools and strategies to assess and develop IEP Goals that are appropriate for the individual student, specific and measurable. Attendees will learn how to monitor progress and, if needed, ways to utilize the documented results to obtain additional appropriate IEP supports and services.
Presenter: Erin Han, Esq., Janeen Barth Schlotzer, Esq. Audience: AttorneyAudience Experience: Intermediate Description: This presentation focuses on the unique considerations, strategies, and dilemmas intrinsic to representing low income and disadvantaged client populations, including wards of the state and children living in foster care. Attorneys face unique challenges when representing clients who are living in poverty or growing up in foster care. First, the attorney must determine whether to represent the child, biological parent, foster parent, state-appointed educational surrogate, or the DCFS agency as the client and how to then navigate these relationships to ideally present a united stance at school special education meetings. Further, the attorney must be attuned to the common ways in which a special education case may be derailed due to the client’s disadvantage: lost records due to multiple placements or residences; failure of the school to qualify the student for special education services on the basis of missed school; low expectations by the client as to what educational services would constitute FAPE; and educational surrogates or foster parents who choose not to attend school meetings or to advocate for the child’s special education services. This training addresses these issues and how to avoid some of the pitfalls that foster care or living in poverty may pose to a case. The presentation includes a discussion of the viability of obtaining attorney’s fees.
Presenter: Michele Kule-Korgood, Esq. Audience: All AttendeesAudience Experience: IntermediateDescription: The Supreme Court has long held that there are three “prongs”that must be considered when determining whether reimbursement can be awarded. In Sch. Comm. of Town of Burlington v. Dep’t of Educ. of Mass. and Florence County Sch. Dist. Four v. Carter, the Supreme Court created a three-part test to determine when a parent is eligible for tuition reimbursement. This session is designed to cover many of the factors that can be considered when examining a case under the “Burlington-Carter”standard. After discussing the history of this standard and the burden of proof for each prong, participants take a look at the issues that often arise in a reimbursement case, and how they fall into this analysis. The remedy of direct payment for a unilateral placement is also discussed.
Presenters: Jonathan Zimring, Esq. Audience: All Attendees Audience Experience: IntermediateDescription: A chronological look at the EHA as it was introduced and passed in 1974-1975 through the present, and any lessons on the meaning and intent of the act and the rights of students and parents. The presentation begins with the concerns and and compromises in 1975 that led to P.L. 94-142 and its companion Section 504 amendments the previous spring. The analysis continues through Rowley, Smith v. Robinson, and other decisions, tracking the amendments to IDEA, the extension of the eligibility provisions, transition services and other parts of the law as they developed. Related developments under Section 504 and the ADA are addressed. Where the history or meaning reflect differences from current implementation of the Act, these differences are discussed. Parental and student rights in the context of P.L. 94-142’s reach are also discussed.
Presenters: Tamara Roff, Esq. Audience: All Attendees Audience Experience: NoviceDescription: Navigating the special education maze can be difficult, especially when no one program can adequately meet a child’s needs. This course discusses services available and what to do when you feel a child requires additional services during or after the typical school day. "Related services as necessary to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education" means different things to school dsitrict and parents. While related services are most frequently provided during the school day, they are sometimes necessary after the typical school day has ended. This course explores the various situations where related services may be necessary, including the need to generalize skills; situations where the school cannot provide all of the necessary services; medically necessary skills that are required for FAPE; and cases where the child's needs simply cannot be met during the 6 hour school day. The many obstacles in pursuing after school services are discussed, as well as various ways to support and advocate for the child's needs.
Breakout Sessions IV
Renee C. Wachtel MDAudience: All AttendeesAudience Experience: IntermediateDescription: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is an increasing diagnosis for children requiring special education and related services, with the current prevalence in the US estimated to be 1:110 children. Due to the increasing public awareness, more children are being identified at young ages and referred for early intervention and special education services. Many controversies exist, including diagnostic criteria (educational versus medical), appropriate educational services, models of behavioral intervention and appropriate related services. This workshop focuses upon ASD evaluation, diagnostic criteria and the range of interventions available. In addition, the many complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches that are employed by families, how these relate to other forms of treatment, and what is known about their efficacy are discussed.
Presenters: Laura Beth (Michon) Emerson, M.S., CCC-SLP/L, Janet Seidl, OTR/L, Thean Scruggs-Leadon, B.A.Audience: All Attendees Audience Experience: IntermediateDescription: This session provides practical knowledge about Occupational (OT) and Speech Therapy (ST) Individual Education Evaluation (IEEs). A reference chart identifying the strengths and weaknesses of assessment tools is presented and data collection sources reviewed, with emphasis on the need to gather quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of sources to provide a global picture of the student’s strengths and needs. These sources include standardized and criterion-referenced assessments; student work samples; parental information that includes academic and socio-emotional concerns, outside services the student receives, and how the student functions at home; and educational history including grades, performance measures, peer interactions, and other reported concerns/behaviors. When IEE data is gathered effectively, a comprehensive student profile emerges from which practical, individualized programming can be developed. OTs and STs consider this profile in terms of how the quantitative data compares with the qualitative and behavioral data in order to inform the team about optimal accommodations and modifications that may augment success. IEE results may also indicate the need for removal, modification, and/or additions to the current goals. OTs and STs can also provide critical data to the team as assistants in the advocacy process, especially related to their respective training to provide students with the tools and training in self-advocacy related to their disabilities. A better understanding of the IEE OT and ST testing process can assist parent attorneys and advocates in knowing when an outside OT or ST IEE may be beneficial and/or necessary to gain insight into their students’ profiles, and to select evaluators who have the level of training and competence that they seek to optimize the advocacy process.
Presenter: Alexis Casillas, Esq. and Eric Sams, Esq.Audience: AttorneyAudience Experience: NoviceDescription: This session provides a how-to guide for outlining, researching, and drafting correspondence, complaints, and legal briefs. Having worked with a Ninth Circuit judge, and having heard from many other law clerks about the pitfalls they see in legal briefs and evidence associated with cases, the presenter shares how form often torpedos even the best substance when it comes to legal pleading. Many special education briefs don't track the way non-special education cases do. This is problematic for any legal writer, but it is exponentially so when you consider the statistics around IDEA cases moving through federal courts, the knowledge gap between those who practice special education and those who do not, and the increasingly unmanageable dockets Judges face. Topics include organization of overall brief, paragraph elements, flow, language, citation, formatting, and NEVER DO-List.
Presenters: Patty Roberts, Esq. Audience: All AttendeesAudience Experience: NoviceDescription: The successful representation of children with special needs requires a collaborative and multi-disciplinary approach that utilizes legal, medical and educational expertise. By working together, professionals can provide the evidence necessary to obtain the accommodations and services that children require. Working in a climate of underfunded public schools, it is necessary to present the most compelling case possible to justify needed accommodations and services. This is best accomplished by attorneys, advocates and parents working closely with experts from other disciplines, particularly medicine and education, to design an effective program for the children, supported by evidence and recommendations from other professionals. This session explores the collaborative efforts of William & Mary Law School's Special Education Advocacy Clinic in working with educators from a special education graduate program, as well as partnerships with medical professionals to maximize the ability to advocate for children with special needs.
Presenter: Mark Woodsmall, Esq.Audience: All Attendees Audience Experience: Novice Description: : Parents, as essential participants in the IEP process, must have an effective tool to express disagreement in situations where the District's offer is inappropriate. This workshop, for parents, advocates and new attorneys focuses on the all important task of preserving the parents' dissent through a "Parent Attachment" to the IEP.
Presenter: Carrie Watts, J.D., Mandy Favaloro, Esq. Audience: AdvocatesAudience Experience: AdvancedDescription: This session explores effective advocacy before, during and after the IEP, and how effective strategies can set the stage for an successful due process case. In the increasingly hostile and complex environment that is the world of special education, effective advocacy in the IEP process is not just about working towards immediate results. Advocacy involves helping parents participate in the IEP process and have concerns heard, without giving school districts any ammunition to label them as “difficult.” Effective advocacy is often the key to success when a dispute arises. In this session, participants explore practical strategies and tips for representing their client’s interests before, during and after the IEP meeting to successfully advocate for appropriate programs and ultimately be prepared for the next steps.
Presenters: Donna L. Wulkan, Esq., Sarah Tomkins. Esq. Audience: Attoeneys Audience Experience: NoviceDescription: The presentation discusses issues that arise when the LEA being challenged insists they are not the LEA due to the student's moving or transferring between charter and other schools, moving to another jurisdiction, local regulations and other agency involvement. The presentation reviews the current case law, as well as practical solutions for special education practitioners and advocates including responses to motions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, joining necessary parties and how to address LEA's affirmative defense that it is not the LEA for the student at due process hearings.
Breakout Sessions V
Presenter: Amy Mounce, M.S. Audience: Advocate and/or ParentAudience Experience: NoviceDescription: After spending a great deal of effort and time on the Individualized Education Program (IEP) development, now what do you do? Once the IEP is developed, the importance of implementation and monitoring is often overwhelming and overlooked. Unfortunately, report cards and standardized state testing do not provide enough detailed information to demonstrate whether a student is making meaningful progress. Advocates and parents can initiate and monitor student’s students independently or can collaborate with teachers to collect data. Advocates and parents can present meaningful data that documents a student’s progress, or lack thereof towards IEP goals, to multidisciplinary teams. The teams scan use the data to revise a student’s accommodations, modifications, goals and services. Additionally, a student’s lack of progress may be proven which impacts future IEPs and educational placements. Participants also learn the legal requirements of implementing and monitoring an IEP. Specific methods of data collection to assist with monitoring are explained and methods to collaborate with school teams discussed.
Presenter: Elizabeth Hyatt Robinson, Esq.Audience: AttorneyAudience Experience: NoviceDescription: Ethical considerations are always an issue in the legal profession. There are additional concerns and considerations when your client base is a special population. This breakout session covers some of those unique concerns, addressing issues such as defining the scope of representation, ethical concerns with regard to settlement and attorneys fees, defining who is the actual client, privacy and privilege matters, among others. Join us for a frank discussion of ethical concerns that could save future heartache, disciplinary issues, and malpractice concerns. ***this session will count for 1.25 hours of ethics CLE credits.
Presenters: Gary S. Mayerson, Esq.Audience: All Attendees Audience Experience: IntermediateDescription: This presentation is suitable for all attendees who are interested in learning about bullying of students with disabilities and how and when it may amount to a FAPE deprivation. This presentation identifies what is and is not bullying, the educational impact of bullying on the victim and other students and the obligation of the LEA to investigate and remedy alleations of bullying, and how bullying can constitute a FAPE deprivation under IDEA and other applicable statutes.
Presenter: Veronika Kot, J.D. Audience: All Attendees Audience Experience: Novice
Description: This workshop focuses on the intersection of federal statutes which protect the rights of homeless children (McKinney-Vento Act) and children with special needs (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504) in school settings. The specific legal requirements as well as the strategies and best practices that make service delivery effective are addressed. The McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney-Vento Act) is a key legal tool for ensuring educational access and consistency for homeless children, just as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 address the unique needs of children with disabilities in school. Adequately serving children who are both homeless and who have special needs, and complying with the requirements of all applicable statutes, presents particular challenges to school districts, attorneys and advocates. This workshop focuses on the areas where these separate federal statutes intersect, including tricky areas such as child find, transfer of records, IEP compliance and transportation issues. This workshop is particularly useful to anyone who works with low income families, including those newly displaced due to the recession and high rates of unemployment and foreclosures.
Presenters: Nancy E. Wright, Esq., Gabriela Ruiz, Esq.Audience: Attorney Audience Experience: NoviceDescription: For children with significant medical needs or disabilities, services may be necessary outside of school. Services provided by the school district through IDEA may not meet a child’s needs, no matter how generous the IEP package. If a child has complex medical issues, the parent may need supplemental home health services. An child diagnosed with autism who displays self-injurious behaviors may need behavioral therapy and training for the family in the home setting. Private insurance rarely pays for these kinds of services. Many children who receive services under IDEA are also eligible for Medicaid. Although Medicaid has income/asset limits, those vary by state, and even by program within a particular state. Under the newly minted federal Affordable Care Act, eligibility for Medicaid will be greatly expanded, so learning the ins and outs of this federal-state behemoth is even more important. Learn how Medicaid and IDEA compare, how Medicaid eligibility is determined, and what options may be available for traditional medical care and for home services.
Presenters: Matthew Dietz, Esq. , Stephanie Langer, Esq. Audience: All AttendeesAudience Experience: IntermediateDescription: In March 2011, the Department of Justice issued updated interpretations of the ADA regulations which directly affect educational testing. This session addresses the specific changes to the regulations regarding educational testing andprovides a step by step review of what is now needed to request and obtain accommodations in testing. The session explain (1) what disabilities are protected by the ADA; (2) what applicable regulations are involved; (3) how to establish a disability under the ADA for purposes of testing accommodations; (4) what documentation is required; and (5) what accommodations are available to the student. The extent of the inquiry that can be made regarding the nature of the disability, types of assessments are required and what type of professional is qualified to make such an assessment, when a reassessment is required; and when and how accommodations should be requested are reviewd. Practical suggestions for documenting the need for and the type of accommodations received in IEP and 504 plans are provided.
Presenters: Allison Hertog, Esq. , Rochelle Marcus, M.Ed., J.D. Audience: All Attendees Audience Experience: IntermediateDescription: Thinking of filing for mediation on a particular case? Wondering why your last mediation went sour? This session explores the mediation process, pitfalls and strategies for negotiating a well-written, successful, knowing and voluntary agreement. Find out how to file, the purpose of filing, the pros and cons of mediation vs. due process, the differences between mediation and a resolution session and how to prepare for mediation. This interactive session provides an overview of the mediation process including opening statements, caucusing, resolutions and creating a well written, well considered, knowing and voluntary mediation agreement through an interactive role play experience.
Presenters: Julie K. Waterstone, J.D., Jenny R. Fee, J.D.Audience: All Attendees Audience Experience: IntermediateDescription: If a student with special needs is being subject to disciplinary removal by his/her school district, there are procedures that the district must follow before such a removal is finalized. This panel discusses disciplinary removals of children with special needs and proposes alternatives to discipline for these youth that better uphold the intentions of the IDEA. If you are representing a student with special needs who has been suspended multiple times, removed from one or more schools, or who suffers from school avoidance this session is for you. The panel discusses a “pushout” phenomenon in schools, whereby schools are using disciplinary removals as a means to exclude children with special needs, particularly those children with emotional or behavior issues. This directly leads to a higher drop-out rate and an increase in children in the juvenile delinquency system. This panel provides practical information, tools and tips for those interested in challenging the “pushout” phenomenon in schools and implementing positive behavior support alternatives. We also discuss a holistic approach to reform, involving community, advocates, law enforcement and the schools.
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