New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center | April 16 - 19, 2023


We’re currently planning the 2023 agenda, but for now take a look at the Pre- and Post-Institute Symposiums that were offered in 2022. These extended-length Symposiums are presented by nationally recognized experts and explore your biggest concerns, bringing you the case law, research and tools to make a positive impact on your students, your special education programs and your community.

2023 Pre- & Post-Institute Symposium details will be announced in the Fall!

2022 Pre-Institute Symposiums
Pre 1

504 OCR Insider's Bootcamp — A View From Both Sides of the Table

Whether you are a rookie or seasoned veteran, this highly focused session will provide a 360° view of Section 504 from start to finish. Special education attorney Betsey Helfrich and former OCR attorney Anne Bradley will share practical tips, case examples, and guidance on how to draft legally compliant Section 504 plans and navigate an OCR complaint investigation. Don't miss mock 504 meetings, OCR investigations, and common scenarios that give real examples of how to design, implement, and defend Section 504 plans in your school.
Betsey Helfrich
Betsey Helfrich, Esq., Law Offices of Betsey Helfrich, LLC, Washington, Mo.
Anne Bradley
Anne Bradley, Former OCR Supervisory Attorney, Region VII; Founding Partner, Bradley Strategies and Solutions Group, LLC, Kansas City, Mo.

Pre 2

On Your Best Behavior: Using Evidence-Based Strategies for Aggressive Students

Challenging behaviors in the classroom were on the rise even before COVID-19, but they skyrocketed when students returned to campus after extended school closures. From noncompliance to physical violence, these behaviors interfere with students’ learning, disrupt the instructional environment, and pose threats to the safety and well-being of students and staff alike. They also have resulted in many schools engaging in abusive disciplinary practices and a call for new disciplinary guidance from the U.S. Department of Education. To keep you on the right track, behavior expert Dr. Joe Ryan will explain how to identify target behaviors and the antecedents and consequences that influence them. You'll learn how to use evidence-based strategies to safely manage aggressive students as well as develop a plan based on positive intervention procedures to promote pro-social behaviors of students.
Joseph Ryan
Joseph Ryan, Ph.D., Stanzione Distinguished Professor, Clemson University College of Education, S.C.

Pre 3

The Impact of Title IX on Special Education

Title IX is in turmoil, and the impacts on special education are broad. The rules for Title IX sexual harassment continue to be in flux. What special rules apply to considerations of whether a student with disabilities has engaged in or been the victim of sexual harassment under Title IX? What rights do students with disabilities have in the grievance process for Title IX sexual harassment? When might a Title IX matter implicate child find? What are the major issues regarding the intersection between LGBTQ+ protections under Title IX and special education? Join attorney Jackie Wernz as she presents real-life scenarios to help you understand and navigate the current state of the law and the interplay between Title IX and special education. You'll get an overview of the recent case law, guidance, and other authorities relevant to Title IX and special education. Plus, you'll take home hypotheticals you can use in your district to train staff and a checklist of issues to consider when addressing Title IX disputes involving students with disabilities.
Jackie Wernz
Jackie Wernz, Esq., Thompson & Horton LLP, Dallas, Texas

Pre 4

Child Find on My Mind: Identifying and Evaluating Students in a Post-Pandemic World

Complying with the child find mandate that districts seek out students who may need special education and refer those students for an evaluation has always been difficult. But with students attending private schools, virtual schools, or being home schooled as a result of the global pandemic, child find is more challenging than ever. Regardless of the modality of instruction, states remain responsible for complying with child-find under the IDEA and Section 504. Attorney Rachel Hitch will review this key requirement under both laws, recent top cases, and current guidance. She'll point out the common pitfalls to avoid during the referral and evaluation process, share practical pointers for next steps when students have been deemed ineligible under the IDEA, and list potential areas to address in a parent questionnaire for virtual schools.
Rachel Hitch
Rachel Hitch, Esq.,
Poyner Spruill LLP,
Raleigh, N.C.

Pre 5

IDEA Discipline From the Ground Up

Back by popular demand, attorney David Hodgins provides an in-depth and entertaining discussion of the key discipline rules and regulations as well as legal decisions affecting the discipline of students with disabilities. From the "10-day rule" to manifestation determinations, to continuation of services requirements, to expedited due process hearings, you'll get details on the most important legal requirements, relevant cases, and consequences of discipline missteps. Using vivid illustrations of real-life scenarios, David will paint a true picture of discipline dilemmas and strategies you won't forget.
David Hodgins
David Hodgins, Esq., Thompson & Horton LLP, Houston, Texas

Pre 6

Triangulating the Transition IEP: Writing a Legally Defensible Transition-Focused IEP

Districts are required to develop plans that truly prepare students with disabilities for postsecondary education, employment, and independent living. Ensuring IEP annual goals clearly and accurately link to postsecondary goals involves using a triangulation process to develop transition-focused IEPs. Administrator Jon Paul Burden and attorney Alyssa Burghardt team up in this presentation focusing on the practice of developing transition-focused IEPs that are relevant to students’ interests and needs, are compliant with federal legislation, and represent a legally defensible transition plan for students with disabilities including those from culturally diverse backgrounds. They will share resources for identifying industry standards and a unique method for writing transition-focused IEPs, and you will leave this session with replicable tools, examples, and strategies.
Jon Paul Burden
Jon Paul Burden, Director of Exceptional Student Services, Weld RE-4 School District, Windsor, Colo.
Alyssa Burghardt
Alyssa Burghardt, District Counsel, Student Success, Jeffco Public Schools, Golden, Colo.
Post-Institute Symposiums
Post 1

Data Driving Change: Promoting Progress and Narrowing the Achievement Gap

Too often goals are written in a generic manner that allows for mediocre growth and which often does not directly impact the areas of eligibility. Danielle Rice and Tammy Pugh will provide timely information to help administrators, educators, and parents identify the goals and objectives that are holding students back. This team of experienced special educators will show you how to use targeted goals written to address a student's weaknesses and provide standards-based instruction. Find out how best to use eligibility determination forms and meaningful data to determine the instruction and specific goals needed to promote progress and narrow the achievement gap.
Danielle Rice
Danielle Rice, Director of Special Education, Kenton County School District,
Fort Wright, Ky.
Tammy Pugh
Tammy Pugh, Due Process Coordinator, Kenton County School District,
Fort Wright, Ky.

Post 2

You Got This! Managing Student Behavior in the LRE

School attorneys agree, student behavior issues tend to be the most litigated special education issue, especially when the situation involves a change of placement to a more restrictive setting. From IEPs to BIPs and FBAs, attorney Brandon Wright will point out the red flags associated with the IDEA's least restrictive environment requirement in the context of student behavior. He'll detail what the law and regulations say about behavior and how courts and hearing officers have interpreted them before, during, and after the pandemic. You'll learn how to best document changes of placement in the IEP; when to send PWN; what factors to consider with regard to private, therapeutic, or residential schools; and what evidence persuades courts and hearing officers that the placement complies with the IDEA's mandate.
Brandon Wright
Brandon Wright, Esq., Miller, Tracy, Braun, Funk & Miller Ltd., Monticello, Ill.
Attendees in a Session
Attendees in a Session
Attendees in a Session