LRP's National Institute on Legal Issues of Educating Individuals with Disabilities REGISTER AGENDA  
[ 2017 Program Materials & Attendee list ]
2017 National Institute Speakers
Gene Bamesberger Gene Bamesberger
Gene Bamesberger is a life-long educator and learner. He earned his MS in Specific Learning Disabilities from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He developed the first community-based transition program for students with significant disabilities in the Denver Public Schools and has continued this work throughout his career. In his current position as the Associate Director of Special Education for the Denver Public Schools he has worked diligently to provide the leadership necessary to articulate a vision of high expectations and rigorous programming for all students. In an effort to remove barriers and to increase outcomes for students with disabilities, his work has focused on implementing a College Career Continuum to ensure that Students with Disabilities have the knowledge, skills and tools necessary to become contributing members of their communities.

Nicki Bazer Nicki Bazer, Esq.
Of Counsel, Franczek Radelet
Nicki focuses her legal practice on policy and governance issues, student privacy rights, teacher evaluation, teacher misconduct issues, educator licensure compliance, general public school compliance, as well as charter schools. As former general counsel at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), she provides valuable insight and counsel to school districts on the regulations and reform initiatives endorsed by ISBE. Nicki regularly represents clients in both state and federal court, in administrative hearings on teacher matters, and before the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Nicki is a frequent speaker on school law matters, specifically on student data security and privacy and teacher performance and evaluation. Nicki has made presentations for the Illinois Council of School Attorneys, the Illinois Association of Administrators of Special Education, the Illinois Association of School Boards and Illinois Association of School Personnel Administrators. While at ISBE, she provided legal advice and support to districts under direct state oversight. She facilitated state-wide working groups on data security as it relates to student privacy, as well as the state school funding formula. As ISBE’s General Counsel, Nicki oversaw the legislative agenda of the agency, including drafting legislation, working with education stakeholders and testifying before the Illinois General Assembly.

Christopher Borreca Christopher Borreca
Partner of Thompson & Horton LLP
Christopher P. Borreca is a founding partner of Thompson & Horton LLP. He was the education director of a private program serving individuals with developmental disabilities in Houston for nine years before becoming an attorney. As a former partner of Bracewell & Giuliani, (now, “Bracewell”) he has extensive experience in special education issues, as well as contract issues, employment issues and other school law matters. Mr. Borreca also has experience with hearings on student discipline, employee grievances, personnel and school board appeals. A registered lobbyist, he also is active at the state and federal legislative level working on behalf of school districts and educational organizations and was most recently involved in the reauthorization of the ESEA (now, ESSA ) on behalf of the 40 largest school districts in Texas.

Tracy Broccolino Tracy Broccolino
National Director of Special Education,
Connections Education LLC
Tracy Broccolino has spent the last 23 years in education in various roles including classroom teacher and reading specialist. She holds a Master’s degree in Reading and a certificate in Neuroeducation from Johns Hopkins University. In 2008, she joined Connections Education LLC, an Education Service Provider that partners with virtual charter schools across the country. She is now the National Director of Special Education in the Connections Student Programs department. Based in Baltimore, Tracy’s work allows her to work with school administrators, special educators, and teachers across the country. She oversees instruction and compliance for special populations in Connections Academy schools including English Language Learners and students with IEPs. She also closely supports schools’ Response to Intervention processes as well as Connections’ global accessibility efforts. A large part of her job focuses on teacher mentoring and professional development.

Adolph Brown Dr. Adolph Brown
The Leadership & Learning Institute

Larry Brunson, Jr. M.S Larry Brunson, Jr. M.S
Executive Director/Founder,
Brunson Educational Consulting Group
Mr. Brunson has been in the field of education for 18 years. He has served in a variety of roles such as Instructional Assistant, General Education Teacher, Special Education Teacher, Assistant Principal, Program Specialist, Director and Assistant Superintendent. He currently serves as Director of Inclusive Education at Bright Star Schools, a charter school in Los Angeles. In addition, he is Executive Director and Founder of Brunson Educational Consulting Group, which specializes in special education staffing and consultation in the area of educational leadership and professional development. He has worked in districts, charter schools and alternative school settings. He is a valued member of CEC and the Council of Administrators of Special Education. He is a trainer of trainers for PBIS and has extensive experience working in special education and educational leadership. He is currently completing his Doctor of Education degree in the Administrative Leadership of Teaching and Learning.

Jennifer Castillo Jennifer Castillo, Esq.
Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC
Jennifer Castillo joined Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC in August 2014. Ms. Castillo assists her clients with various federal education matters, including fiscal and programmatic compliance under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act. Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Castillo served as a law clerk at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Prior to clerking, Ms. Castillo was a Law Graduate Fellow with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI). While at Boston College Law School, Ms. Castillo advocated on behalf of special education students as a student attorney in the Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project Clinic. Because of her clinical work, Ms. Castillo was awarded the Susan Grant Desmarais Award for outstanding work in a clinical program and the Association of Corporate Counsel Law Student Ethics Award for Boston College Law School. Ms. Castillo graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies in 2009 and received her J.D. from Boston College Law School in May 2012. Ms. Castillo is admitted to practice law in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Art Cernosia Art Cernosia
Attorney/Education Consultant, Office of Art Cernosia
Art Cernosia is a licensed attorney and an education consultant from Williston, Vermont. Art previously worked as a teacher, an Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Vermont Department of Education, a practicing attorney, and consultant with a national special education technical assistance center. He was associated with the University of Vermont’s Education Law Institute for over 30 years where he taught and provided legal workshops. He also volunteered as a surrogate parent for students with disabilities who were placed in juvenile detention facilities. He provides training, consultation and other technical assistance services to state and local education agencies and advocacy organizations throughout the nation pertaining to special education legal issues.

Jacque Chevalier Jacqueline Chevalier
Deputy Director of Education Policy, House Committee on Education and the Workforce
Jacque Chevalier serves as the Deputy Director of Education Policy for the Democratic staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce under the leadership of Ranking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA). In her role, she oversees the Committee’s entire education and child welfare portfolio, spanning jurisdiction of the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education and Higher Education and Workforce Development subcommittees. Prior to serving as Deputy Director, she served as the Senior Education Policy Advisor and lead policy staff for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the 2015 bipartisan reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Jacque first came to the Committee under the leadership of Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA), now retired, during which time she served as the lead policy staff for amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014), which reauthorized the Vocational Rehabilitation program. Her primary policy focuses include Title I of the ESEA, disability and civil rights in education issues, and school choice. Prior to joining the Committee, Jacque was the senior policy strategist for the National PTA, where she led the association’s federal policy efforts pertaining to ESEA reauthorization and all federal budget and appropriations. Previously, she worked for United Way Worldwide, where, as the manager of public policy, she developed and implemented the organization’s first early childhood and K-12 education federal policy agenda. Jacque graduated with high distinction from the University of Virginia.

Amy Kosanovich Dickerson Amy Kosanovich Dickerson, Esq.
Partner, Franczek Radelet
Amy represents educational institutions, including public school districts, charter schools, private schools, and higher education institutions, in a variety of education law matters. Amy counsels clients in labor and employment, special education, student rights, student discipline, Title IX investigations, and policy and governance issues. She regularly represents clients in individual educational program (IEP) meetings, due process matters, local and state administrative proceedings on employee and student matters, state and federal court litigation, and before the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. Amy also regularly assists clients with teacher evaluation, discipline and dismissal issues. Prior to joining the Firm, Amy served as the law clerk for the Honorable Morton Denlow, U.S. Magistrate Judge, Northern District of Illinois. During law school, Amy was a Child Law Fellow with the Civitas ChildLaw Center, the executive editor of student articles for the school’s Law Journal, and senior editor of the Children’s Legal Rights Journal. Amy received awards for Leadership, Service and Pro Bono Recognition while at Loyola, and awards for highest grade in Constitutional Law, Legal Writing, and Family Law. Prior to attending law school, Amy taught fifth and sixth grades in the District of Columbia Public School System as a Teach for America Corps Member. Amy is recognized by Illinois Super Lawyers as a Rising Star in Schools and Education Law (2012-2016), and by Leading Lawyers as a 2015 and 2016 Emerging Lawyer. Amy is an active member of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys and the National Council of School Attorneys and frequently speaks on education law topics at various bar association and school administrator association events. She is also a member of the American, Illinois State, and Chicago Bar Associations. She serves as a faculty member for Loyola’s Childlaw Trial Practice course, and has previously served as a legal writing professor. Amy is frequently quoted by SpecialEd Connection, a widely recognized resource for the education industry, on various special education topics. Amy participates in various community interest initiatives with Franczek Radelet, including leading the Firm’s Education Law Practicum program with Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Amy enjoys running, being outdoors, and spending time with her family, including her twin daughters and twin sons.

Geneva L. Englebrecht, Esq. Geneva L. Englebrecht-Taylor, Esq.
Attorney, Thompson & Horton, Houston
Geneva L. Englebrecht-Taylor joined the Houston office of Thompson & Horton in 2014. Prior to moving to Texas, Ms. Englebrecht-Taylor was a Senior Attorney with the California law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo and represented school districts, county offices of education, special education local plan areas, and community colleges. Ms. Englebrecht-Taylor has extensive experience in disability and special education law, advocacy, training, mediation, and due process hearings. She regularly advises clients regarding the Individuals with Disability in Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Ms. Englebrecht-Taylor also has experience assisting clients with discrimination complaints filed with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights. Ms. Englebrecht-Taylor is a 2014 Super Lawyers Rising Star. In 2009 the California Bar Foundation honored Ms. Englebrecht-Taylor with the Rosenthal Bar Exam Scholarship Award for her dedication to public interest law. Ms. Englebrecht-Taylor is a Full Fellow in the Whittier Center for Children’s Rights and has been an invited guest speaker at Whittier College of Law on Disability and Special Education and at California State University Long Beach on higher education for the socio-economically disadvantaged. Ms. Englebrecht-Taylor is a frequent guest speaker at workshops and conferences for school administrators, attorneys, teachers, students, and staff on such topics as Section 504, student discipline, special education, deaf and hard of hearing litigation, and anti-bullying in general and special education. Ms. Englebrecht-Taylor served as an extern in special education matters and provided free special education legal training for low-income military families prior to and during law school.

Teri E. Engler, Esq. Teri E. Engler, Esq.
Partner, Engler, Baasten & Sraga LLC, Ill.
Teri E. Engler is one of the founding partners of Engler, Baasten & Sraga LLC. Ms. Engler received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in 1976 and worked as a high school teacher before earning her Juris Doctor degree from Loyola University of Chicago in 1980. She concentrates her school law practice in the areas of special education/disability law and other student issues. Ms. Engler is a member of the Executive Committee of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys, the National Louis University Special Education Advisory Board, and numerous other professional committees and organizations in the fields of law and education. She regularly lectures on school law topics at local, State and national conferences and training programs, and has frequently been recognized by Chicago Magazine as an “Illinois Super Lawyer” in the area of schools and education.

Chris Fernandes Chris Fernandes
Christopher J. Fernandes is a partner in the firm’s San Diego office. Mr. Fernandes has practical school law experience in the areas of special education, student issues, labor and employment, charter schools, and real property. In his practice, he focuses primarily on special education and student issues. Mr. Fernandes has successfully argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and has experience defending school districts in federal and state civil rights actions, mediations, and administrative proceedings such as expulsions, dismissals, and due process hearings. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Fernandes worked for the San Diego County Office of Education, serving in the positions of Credentials Technician, STRS Accounting Clerk, and Teacher’s Assistant for the Juvenile Court and Community Schools.

Lauren Furlow Lorin Furlow
Lorin Rayburn Furlow is the Director of Special Services in Brazosport Independent School District in Texas where she supports students, families, and campuses with Special Education or 504 services by providing a collaborative environment that embraces all learners to successfully achieve their full potential. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and Masters in Educational Leadership from Lamar University. She has served in education as a Pre-Kindergarten and Preschool Program for Student's with Disabilities (PPCD) Teacher, District Behavior Support Team Teacher, Special Education Facilitator and Coordinator. Lorin also serves as a Restorative Discipline Coordinator, training with the University of Texas Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue.

Connie Garner Constance Garner
Policy Director/Practice Leader,
Foley Hoag LLP.
Connie Garner focuses her practice as Policy Director and Practice Leader in the Government Strategies Practice Group, and Executive Director for Advance CLASS, Inc. Her areas of expertise include health care, disability, mental health and substance use disorders, long term care, and education. Prior to joining Foley Hoag she was the Executive Vice President for Policy at United Cerebral Palsy (UCP). For 17 years, Garner served as Policy Director for Disability and Special Populations to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), chaired by Senator Edward M Kennedy, and served as the primary consultant to the Democratic caucus on these issues. She stayed an additional year following Senator Kennedy’s death to help with the transition of the Committee to the new chairman. She worked with Sen. Christopher Dodd, Sen. Tom Harkin, and primarily with the late Chairman Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. She was the lead Democratic Committee architect for the CLASS Act, the major long-term care legislation that was part of the Affordable Care Act; enactment of the landmark Mental Health Parity Act 2008; the 2006 and 2009 reauthorizations of the $2 billion Ryan White CARE Act; the Family Opportunity Act of 2006; the 2003 (most current) reauthorization of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); and the 1999 Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act. Garner also served in the U.S. Department of Education as Director of the Federal Interagency Coordinating Council for Children with Disabilities, and as the Secretary of Education’s principal liaison to HHS on interagency healthcare matters, including early intervention, Medicaid school-based services, and prevention initiatives across the public health domain. In addition to her work at the federal level, Garner has practiced as both a hospital and community public health clinical nurse specialist, including as the nursing administrator for maternal-child health inpatient hospital units in the Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. areas. She continues to work as a hospital-based nurse practitioner in the Washington, DC area. Garner earned Bachelor’s and Master’s of science degrees in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania and George Mason University, respectively. She also earned an Educational Specialist degree and pursued doctoral studies in education and health policy at George Washington University. She is also certified as a Pediatric and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.

Denise Gibbs Denise Gibbs
Director, AL Scottish Rite Foundation
Learning Centers
After teaching for more than 25 years, Dr. Gibbs has served as the Director of the Alabama Scottish Rite Foundation Learning Centers, and as a dyslexia and RTI consultant to schools across the country. She is the author of four LRP publications including the newly released Rising to the Challenges of Dyslexia: Using the RTI and Special Education Frameworks (2017), RTI for Early Readers: Implementing Common Core Standards in Your K-5 RTI Model (2011), RTI for Middle and High School: Strategies and Structures for Literacy Success (2008), and Leading the Dyslexia Challenge: An Action Plan for Schoolwide Identification and Intervention (2004). Dr. Gibbs has been appointed by the Alabama State Board of Education to the Alabama Dyslexia Advisory Council and has worked with members of the Council and with leaders at the Alabama Department of Education in developing and updating the Alabama Dyslexia Resource Guide.

Karen Haase, Esq. Karen Haase, Esq.
Attorney, KSB School Law, Lincoln, Neb.
Karen Haase practices exclusively in the area of education law representing public school districts and other educational institutions. She frequently presents in-services and speaks to all manner of education groups. She graduated from the University of Nebraska School of Law with highest distinction and obtained an M.A. in political rhetoric from Kansas State University and a B.A. from Hastings College. She has authored several articles in academic journals and is a past president of the Nebraska Counsel of School Attorneys and a member of The National Counsel of School Attorneys and the Nebraska Bar Association. She is admitted to the U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Betsey Helfrich Betsey Helfrich
Attorney Mickes O'Toole , LLC
Betsey A. Helfrich is a partner in the education law department of Mickes O’Toole, LLC, in St. Louis, Missouri. Betsey has successfully represented school district clients against a variety of claims in state and federal courts, including the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. She is a frequent speaker and author on special education and general education topics. In 2014 Betsey received the Missouri Lawyers Weekly “Up & Coming Award”, and in 2015 and 2016 was recognized as a Super Lawyer’s Missouri & Kansas Rising Star in Education Law.

David Hodgins, Esq. David Hodgins, Esq.
Thompson & Horton, LLP, Houston
David B. Hodgins represents and counsels public school districts, junior and community colleges, universities, and other governmental entities concerning all areas of education and government law, including special education law, student discipline concerns, contracts and service agreements, civil rights matters, and state and federal litigation. He is a frequent speaker regarding education law issues at the state and national level. Before joining Thompson & Horton, he was a partner at the Houston office of Bracewell & Giuliani.

Anahid Hoonanian, Esq. Anahid Hoonanian, Esq.
Lozano Smith, Monterey, Calif.
Anahid Hoonanian is Senior Counsel in Lozano Smith's Los Angeles office. Her practice is focused on special education and student matters, as well as the labor & employment aspects of education law. Before joining Lozano Smith, Ms. Hoonanian represented public and private school clients in special education and student matters, including informal meetings, mediation, settlement conferences, local and federal administrative complaints, administrative hearings and litigation.

Robert Hull Robert Hull
School Psychologist, Prince George’s County Public Schools
Robert has extensive experience in providing leadership to the Trauma Informed Education Movement in public schools as well as in alternative settings. He is an experienced provider of professional development. In 2012 he co-edited the Educating and Supporting Traumatized Students, text which is published by the Oxford University Press. He is currently certified as a school psychologist/administrator by the Maryland State Department of Education. Qualifications include over 10 years as a state and district level administrator for school psychology and special education and over 30 years of experience as a practicing school psychologist in rural, urban, military dependent schools overseas. Other activities include providing professional development to the Buckeye School System in Ohio which services adjudicated youth as well as trainings across the United States on disruptive behavior disorders. Mr. Hull has graduate degrees in education, psychology and public health/administration from Arizona State University, Memphis State University and Johns Hopkins.

Melinda Jacobs, Esq. Melinda Jacobs, Esq.
Law Office of Melinda Jacobs, Knoxville, Tenn.
Melinda Jacobs has devoted her career to the field of special education and disability law, working in government, private publishing, and the representation of public school agencies as a private practitioner. After receiving her law degree from the University of Alabama in 1984, Ms. Jacobs returned to Tennessee and accepted a position as an attorney in the Office of Special Education Programs for the Tennessee Department of Education. In 1989, Melinda joined LRP Publications as Associate Publisher for Education and Disability Publications. She returned to Tennessee in 1996, and joined a small special education law firm representing public school districts throughout the State. On March 1, 1999, Ms. Jacobs opened The Law Office of Melinda Jacobs, exclusively representing school districts in matters pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and related state and federal laws. Since 1999, Ms. Jacobs has successfully represented school districts at all levels of practice, including administrative due process hearings, the U.S. District Courts for the Western, Middle, and Eastern Districts of Tennessee and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In addition to her law practice, Melinda consults with school district staff and school board attorneys in several states on special education legal issues.

Tiffany R. Winters, Esq. Tiffany R. Winters Kesslar, Esq.
Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC, Washington, D.C.
Tiffany Winters Kesslar joined Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC in July 2006. Ms. Kesslar assists her clients with both fiscal and programmatic aspects of federal education programs, including the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Ms. Kesslar also works with clients on the requirements of the Office of Management and Budget’s Uniform Grants Guidance (UGG) and other federal administrative regulations, such as the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) and the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR). Ms. Kesslar regularly serves as a keynote speaker on federal education grants compliance. Ms. Kesslar has developed and conducted trainings, webinars, and audio conferences on federal grants management and the fiscal and programmatic requirements of various federal programs. Ms. Kesslar also conducts mock monitoring and internal control reviews of State agencies, local educational agencies, institutions of higher education and nonprofits for fiscal and programmatic compliance with federal administrative requirements. Additionally, Ms. Kesslar serves on the Board of Directors for the National Grants Management Association. Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Kesslar served as a law clerk at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Ms. Kesslar graduated cum laude from Clemson University and received her Juris Doctorate from the Catholic University Columbus School of Law. Ms. Kesslar is a member of the U.S. Supreme Court bar and the District of Columbia bar.

William Knudsen William Knudsen
Director of Government & Affiliate Relations, National Association for Gifted Children
William Knudsen serves as the Director of Government and Affiliate Relations for the National Association for Gifted Children. He works at both the Federal and local levels with NAGC’s advocacy partners to break the impediments obstructing services for our gifted and talented students. Previously, Bill served as an advisor to the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions handling disability, K-12, and workforce issues. This included serving as a member of the bipartisan and bicameral staff negotiations that resulted in the successful reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2015. Prior to working for the United States Senate, Bill worked for the Committee for Economic Development as their Education Program Director. He directed the successful implementation of the organization’s education programing related to early childhood, elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education. Bill also supervised and managed the Quality Assurance Monitoring Division for the District of Columbia State Education Agency. He was responsible for ensuring local education agency compliance under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. During this time, Bill was also appointed by the Mayor to serve as a member of the District of Columbia State Rehabilitation Council. Prior to working for the District of Columbia, Bill served in various roles of increasing responsibility at the United States Department of Education. This included serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and serving as a member of the Senior Executive Service. Earlier roles included serving as the Chief of Staff for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education serving as the principal policy advisor and manager to the Assistant Secretary. During his tenure serving as Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Bill coordinated outreach and coalition building strategies to promote the Department’s policy objectives for Governors, local officials, and non-profit organizations. In the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs, Bill worked on all aspects of the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act and later served as the legislative point person for the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 2004.

Timoth Mahoney Timothy Mahoney, Esq.
Frazer & Feldman LLP
Timothy M. Mahoney received his Juris Doctor Degree from City University School of Law in 2002 and his B.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1999, where he studied Sociology and Music Composition. He is admitted to practice in the State Courts of New York as well as the Federal Courts in the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York. He represented school districts from July, 2004 to April, 2007. His practice from 2007 to 2010 concentrated on civil litigation, commercial claims, copyright and entertainment law, and representation of students with disabilities in IDEA and student discipline hearings. For the past five years, Timothy served as an Impartial Hearing Officer in New York and as a hearing officer with the New York City Environmental Control Board. Since his return to Frazer & Feldman, Timothy's practice is concentrated in the area of special education matters, including impartial hearings and appeals, and attends Section 504 and CSE meetings, student discipline and manifestation determination hearings. He has presented on the topic of student discipline and students with disabilities.

Jose Martín, Esq. Jose Martín, Esq.
Richards, Lindsay & Martín, Austin, Texas

A graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Jose Martín's legal practice focuses exclusively on the representation of public school districts in consultation and litigation involving students with disabilities. His background in journalism has led him to write frequently about disabilities law issues affecting public schools. He currently serves on LRP’s advisory board for The Special Educator® newsletter, and is the author of Effective Strategies to Resolve Special Education Disputes Without Due Process (LRP Publications, 2011), as well as various other LRP articles and pamphlets. Jose is also a frequent speaker on disability law and education topics at local, regional, state, and national conferences.

 Jennifer Mauskapf, Esq. Jennifer Mauskapf, Esq.
Brunstein & Manasevit, PLLC

Jennifer Mauskapf joined Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC in September 2005. She became a Partner of the law firm in January 2010. Ms. Mauskapf assists her clients with various federal education programs, including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, and Title IV of the Higher Education Act. Her clients include state and local education agencies, institutions of higher education, and third party education providers. The focus of Ms. Mauskapf’s practice is defending her clients in adverse audit and program review determination, including administrative litigation, at both the Elementary and Secondary as well as Higher Education levels. Her administrative litigation experience has included the early stages of preparing for audit visits and responding to U.S. Department of Education (USDE) Office of the Inspector General Draft Audit Reports all the way through to appeals in the federal courts. Ms. Mauskapf successfully represented the State of New Mexico before the United States Supreme Court in an agency deference case related to the Impact Aid Program (Zuni Public School District 89 v. U.S. Department of Education). She has also successfully negotiated favorable settlements for her clients with the USDE. Ms. Mauskapf has extensive experience representing clients in their relationship with the USDE Risk Management Team as well as the Cooperative Audit Resolution and Oversight Initiative (CAROI) process. Additionally, Ms. Mauskapf has assisted clients in the development of federal reporting documents including state plans and annual performance reports. Upon graduating from Georgetown University Law Center in May 2004, Ms. Mauskapf served as a law clerk to the Honorable Jerry Buchmeyer, Senior United States District Judge for the Northern District of Texas. During law school, Ms. Mauskapf wrote a seminar paper on school equity finance and gained experience representing both school boards and school districts on a variety of issues. Prior to law school, Ms. Mauskapf received her M.S. in Education and B.A. in Economics from the University of Rochester. During her graduate program, Ms. Mauskapf concentrated in Secondary Social Studies Education and attained a New York State Teaching Certificate. Ms. Mauskapf is a member of the bars of New York and the District of Columbia.

Dawn Netzel Dawn Netzel
Supervisor Pupil-Special Services,
Edison Township Public Schools
Dawn Netzel, Ed.S., NCSP Ms. Netzel is an Elementary Supervisor for Pupil-Special Services in Edison Township Public Schools in Edison, New Jersey. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Sociology, M.A. in Psychology, and Ed.S. in School Psychology from Western Michigan University, and has completed graduate work in Educational Leadership from both Northeastern Illinois University and Caldwell University. She is certified as a School Psychologist in both Illinois and New Jersey, and holds an NJDOE Supervisor Certificate. Ms. Netzel's professional interests include Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, Applied Behavior Analysis, Programming for Students Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Facilitation of Educational Systems Change.

Dave Richards, Esq. Dave Richards, Esq.
Richards, Lindsay & Martín LLP, Austin, Texas
Dave Richards’ practice focuses on the defense of school districts and special education cooperatives. He is a frequent presenter on Section 504 and special education at schools as well as state and national conferences including LRP’s Institute. Dave consults with a variety of state departments of education, and has provided statewide Section 504 training for the state departments of education of Arkansas, New Mexico, and Hawaii. He writes frequently for LRP subscription products and is the author of LRP’s The Top Section 504 Errors: Expert Guidance to Avoid Common Compliance Mistakes (2010) and coauthor of LRP’s 2006 IDEA Final Part B Regulations: What You Need to Know (2006). He also is featured in the LRP video The Dos and Don’ts of Section 504: Step-by-Step Training to Ensure Compliance (2004).

Dave Richards, Esq. Christopher Rigdon
Director, Special Education Programs,
Katy Independent School District
Christopher Rigdon serves Katy ISD as the Director of Education Programs. Christopher has over 22 years of experience, all of which have been in special education. He has worked in intermediate schools as a teacher and team leader, high school as a special education administrator, central office as a coordinator for adaptive behavior, and later as a coordinator for elementary special education curriculum. For the past four years he has worked as Director of Special Education Programs. Christopher holds both a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science degrees from the University of Houston, Clear Lake.

Joseph Ryan, Ph.D. Joseph Ryan, Ph.D.
Associate Director of Research, Clemson University School of Education, S.C.
Dr. Joe Ryan is a Professor of Special Education, and serves as the Associate Director of Research for the School of Education at Clemson University. He is the founder and Executive Director of Clemson LIFE (Learning is for Everyone) a post-secondary education program for young adults with intellectual disabilities, as well as several adaptive sports programs. He has taught students with emotional and behavioral disorders (E/BD) from grades K through 12 across a variety of educational settings, including resource and self-contained classrooms, special day schools, and a residential treatment center. Dr. Ryan has over 50 publications, and currently serves as the Editor of the journal Beyond Behavior. He frequently consults and speaks at national and international professional conferences. He has been interviewed by Anderson Cooper, CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other leading periodicals, and given two U.S. Congressional Briefings on crisis behavioral interventions in schools.

Mary Schillinger Mary Schillinger, M.S., EDLD
Consultant, Former Deputy Superintendent, Las Virgenes Unified School District, Calif.

Mary Schillinger began her career as a general education teacher and then a special education resource teacher, before she moved into administration as a district program specialist, director of special education, assistant superintendent of education, and deputy superintendent. Mary has Masters Degrees in Special Education and Educational Administration. Mary has planned the professional development and strategic planning for implementation of the Common Core State Standards for both general education and special education K-12. As an educational consultant, Mary conducts training and gives presentations on a range of topics including alignment of the IEP to new Core State Standards and successful practices in accessing the rigor of Core State Standards for students with disabilities. As part of her work as a consultant and trainer, Mary has trained county teams in a trainer of trainer’s model for best practices in supporting special education students in the rigor of new state standards. Additional training topics include Co-Teaching for Special Education student success, Universal Design for Learning for all in the Core Standards, Essential Standards Implementation, and Building Defensible Programs for Students with Autism. She is a frequent presenter at state and national conferences. Her LLC, Collaboration for Success can be viewed at . As a member of the faculty of California State University Northridge, Mary teaches courses in the special education teacher preparation and school psychology departments. She has also authored the LRP publications; The Administrator’s Guide to Building and Maintaining a Comprehensive Autism Program in 2010, Write On, A Guide to Compliant Documentation of Special Education Policies and Procedures in 2012, Common Core and the Special Education Student: Your Guide to Instructional Shifts and Implementing Services and Supports in 2014, and Successfully Implementing Core Standards for Students with Disa bilities: A Professional Development Guide, in 2015. Mary can be contacted through her website, as well as through her business, Collaboration for Success at

Sarah Schmanke Sarah Schmanke
Sarah A. Schmanke is a partner at Mickes O’Toole, LLC, in St. Louis, Missouri, who practices exclusively in education law. Sarah is a five-time recipient of Super Lawyer’s Missouri & Kansas Rising Stars in Education Law recognition. In addition to practicing law, Sarah holds a Missouri teaching certificate and has been an adjunct professor at Fontbonne University’s College of Education since 2007.

Linda Silver Linda Silver
Educational Consultant, Former District Section 504/ADA Specialist, Broward County Schools

Linda J. Silver, Ed. S. former District Section 504/ADA Specialist for Broward County Schools, FL provided Section 504 trainings, oversight and monitoring to ensure Section 504 compliance to over 340 schools. Prior to this position, she was District Guidance Coordinator. As NACAC/Broward Schools National College Fair Chairperson, she created the brochure, “Post-Secondary Services for Students with Disabilities in College”. Her educational experiences as a teacher, Guidance Director, ESOL trainer, and Educational Leader were in urban and suburban settings. Recent presentations include: Section 504: Referral to Placement, Transition from Elementary to Middle to High with a Section 504 Plan, Section 504 and Health Services, and Before/ Aftercare Providers - Section 504 Essentials. Ms. Silver was recognized by the Florida School Counselor Association and awarded Counselor of the Year by the State of Florida. Currently, Ms. Silver heads an educational consulting firm, Silver & Associates Educational Consulting Solutions which specializes in Section 504 compliance. 

Victoria Sulerzyski Victoria Sulerzyski
Director, School Legal Affairs,
Connections Education, LLC
Victoria Sulerzyski, Esquire, CIPP/US, is Director of School Legal Affairs of Connections Education LLC. Ms. Sulerzyski holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore School of Law. Prior to joining Connections Education LLC, Ms. Sulerzyski served as Chief of Staff to the Honorable Mary Ellen Barbera, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland and as an attorney in private practice in Baltimore, Maryland. Ms. Sulerzyski is also a former law clerk to the Honorable Alan M. Wilner (retired) of the Court of Appeals of Maryland and has expertise in special education, charter school law, education law, data privacy, and legislative matters. At Connections Education, Ms. Sulerzyski works closely with school administrators, special educators, teachers and corporate stakeholders across the United States to advise on complex legal and compliance issues.

Brad Thomas Brad Thomas
Senior Education Policy Advisor, U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce
Brad Thomas serves as Senior Education Policy Advisor for Chairwoman Virginia Foxx with the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where he leads the K-12 education policy team and serves as the lead disability policy advisor. He previously worked with the Committee from 2004-2008, working on a variety of elementary and secondary, higher education, and disability policy issues. Prior to returning to the Hill, Brad was Senior Vice President for Government Relations for Learning Ally, a non-profit organization that provides accessible instructional materials and other supports to students with disabilities. Brad graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tennessee and a Master of Education from the University of Georgia.

Jan Tomsky, Esq. Jan Tomsky, Esq.
Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, Oakland, Calif.
Jan E. Tomsky is the managing partner of the firm, and serves clients from the firm’s Oakland, California office. She has an extensive practice involving student matters, with a particular emphasis in special education and student discipline. She represents school districts in mediations and due process hearings, as well as in special education-related litigation in state and federal courts, including the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Jan also is a frequent presenter at state, regional, and national conferences. Jan received her Juris Doctor from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. She also holds a master’s degree in education, with an emphasis in student development and special education, from Dominican University of San Rafael, California.

Cynthia Vines, Ed. S., M.Ed., NCSP Cynthia Vines, Ed. S., M.Ed., NCSP
District Section 504 Program Specialist
Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools
As Section 504 Program Specialist with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Charlotte, NC, Cynthia P. Vines, Ed. S., M. Ed., NCSP, oversees Section 504 compliance for 275 public and charter schools. She is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NASP) and holds licensure in special education. She initiated a program for students with learning needs at two private schools and had her own private practice in Orlando, FL. Ms. Vines is an experienced presenter and trainer on topics such as Section 504, Behavior Management Techniques, Threat Assessment and Crisis Intervention, and Functional Behavior Support. Currently, she is partnering with local hospitals and health care providers to provide instructional support to students with chronic illness. Her vast experience brings a unique perspective to school staff in learning about Section 504 compliance. Ms. Vines’ goal is to equip school-based staff with the tools needed to best serve and support all students.

David Walker David M. Walker
Attorney, Barley Snyder
David Walker is a member of the firm’s Education Law group. David focuses his practice on the unique legal needs confronting educational agencies throughout Pennsylvania, including school districts, intermediate units and career and technology centers. As a school solicitor, David supports educational agencies in all areas of general school law. David regularly advises school boards and administrators on all facets of public-sector employment law and labor relations. This experience includes ensuring employer compliance with all applicable federal and state laws. David also assists in collective bargaining with labor unions, and regularly guides school boards through the grievance/arbitration process. David's practice includes providing significant support for the business needs of educational agencies. This experience includes drafting, revising and negotiating contracts, ensuring compliance with public-bidding requirements and responding to bid disputes. Further, David provides business services for joint purchasing boards and health care cooperatives, and routinely counsels school business managers on issues related to employee benefits. Prior to attending law school, David was an eighth grade special education teacher in Chester County, Pennsylvania. David uses his degree in special education, along with his teaching experience, to support the student services and special education needs of educational agencies. In particular, David advises clients on issues of student discipline and student rights, and regularly advises clients on issues related to special education due process hearings. David earned his law degree from Widener University Delaware Law School in Wilmington, DE, where he was an Associate Editor of the Widener Law Review. While attending law school, David interned with the Delaware Superior Court, and completed externships with the Delaware House of Representatives and the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to entering private practice, David served as judicial law clerk to the Honorable Donald R. Totaro of the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas.

Jim Walsh Jim Walsh, Esq.
Walsh Gallegos Trevino Russo & Kyle, P.C.
Jim Walsh, along with partners Joe Hairston and Tom Doyal, founded the firm now known as Walsh Gallegos Treviño Russo & Kyle P.C., in 1983. From the beginning, the focus of the firm was supporting public schools. Jim began his career in Texas school law by serving as the attorney for the Region XIII Legal Service Program, beginning in 1979. He currently serves on the Advisory Board for LRP Publications and the Board of Directors for the national Council of School Attorneys (COSA). Jim has taught school law at both the graduate and undergraduate level at Texas State, Baylor and St. Edward’s universities. A highly sought-after speaker in Texas and throughout the nation, he has conducted inservice training sessions at hundreds of Texas school districts and at every Education Service Center in the state.

Julie J. Weatherly, Esq. Julie J. Weatherly, Esq.
Resolutions in Special Education, Inc., Mobile, Ala.
Julie J. Weatherly, Esq. is the owner of Resolutions in Special Education, Inc. with offices and attorneys in Alabama and Florida. Julie is a member of the State Bars of Alabama and Georgia, and for almost 30 years, has provided legal representation and consultative services to school districts and other agencies in the area of educating students with disabilities. She has been a member of the faculty for many national and state legal institutes and is a frequent speaker at special education law conferences. Julie has developed a number of videotape training series on special education law and has been published nationally as a part of her trainings, workshops and seminars. She is the author of the legal update article for the National CASE quarterly newsletter and is a member of LRP’s Special Education Attorneys Advisory Council. In June of 1996, Julie appeared with Leslie Stahl on CBS news program “60 Minutes” to discuss the cost of meeting the legal requirements of the IDEA. In 1998, she was honored by Georgia’s Council for Exceptional Children as Georgia’s Individual who had Contributed Most to Students with Disabilities, and in April 2012, Julie received the National CASE Award for Outstanding Service.

Brandon Wright Brandon Wright
Attorney/Partner, Miller, Tracy, Braun, Funk & Miller, Ltd.

Brandon K. Wright is a partner in the firm of Miller, Tracy, Braun, Funk & Miller, Ltd. in Monticello, Illinois. Brandon graduated with a B.S. in Speech Communication from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and a master’s degree in educational administration from the Department of Educational Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois College of Law .

Prior to becoming an attorney, Brandon served as a member of the Anna-Jonesboro Community High School Board of Education from 1999-2003, the youngest person to be elected to a school board in Illinois at that time. He has served as an Adjunct Faculty Member at Southern Illinois University’s Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses, and currently teaches school law courses as an Adjunct at Eastern Illinois University.

Brandon currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys.

Brandon focuses his practice on school law, having developed a particular interest in the field of special education, due process, and cooperative school districts. He regularly speaks at state, local and national conferences on topics of school law and special education.

Patricia Wright Patricia Wright
VP, Professional Services, Rethink
As the Vice President of Professional Services, the wealth of experience, expertise, and eternal optimism Patricia Wright brings to Rethink are invaluable. A long-time special educator and behavior analyst, and a fervent and gifted list-maker who strives toward but has yet to achieve the ability to be spontaneous. Patricia supports the Professional Services Team valiantly as they venture into the depths of customized school and district-wide support for our customers across the country. This team does whatever it takes to promote student success! While Patricia prides herself on her truly unprecedented ability to find humor in virtually any event, so do we, as we LOL together in emails and conference calls. Patricia says that if she was a popular candy she’d be a Mike & Ike, due to their “consistency and variety” and because they are “colorful and fun.” We agree, but for different reasons: for all that Patricia brings to our team and to our company, it seems like there certainly must be more than one of her: Dr. Wright & Mights, or something–Rethink’s next business venture, this time in special-educator-themed Candy production.

William Zee William J. Zee, III
Attorney, Barley Snyder
William Zee is a member of the firm’s Education Law group offering extensive experience representing public and private schools, intermediate units and institutions of higher education. He serves as general counsel, solicitor, and special counsel in a variety of matters, representing clients in an advisory capacity, in administrative proceedings and in matters that resort to litigation. Drawing on practical experience in the classroom as a former public school teacher and university administrator, he helps school clients effectively and efficiently navigate complex legal issues. Zee was named a Rising Star by Pennsylvania Super Lawyers in 2015 for the sixth straight year (School & Education category), as well as a "Select Lawyer" in Susquehanna Style magazine in 2015 and 2016. He provides proactive training and support related to developments in education law and is regularly invited to provide expert commentary on student service and disability-related legal issues for interest groups and national publications.

National Institute Other Education Conferences