Lehigh University's College of Education

Spring 2014

Lehigh University's 42nd Special Education Law Conference
What Does the Law Mean in 2014?
Friday, May 9, 2014 at Lehigh University's Mountaintop Campus

(Pending approval for Pennsylvania Continuinging Legal Education Credits - 5.5 credits. The Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board has approved the conference for 5.5 credits. Many states have reciprocal agreements for CLE credits, please check with your state's CLE Board to determine if credits will be accepted.)

(Pending approval for Act 48 - 5.5 credit hours.)

7:30 am 8:30 am

Registration and Refreshments

8:30 am 9:50 am

Special Education Case Law This session will provide an update of the published court decisions under the IDEA and § 504/ADA from across the nation, with special emphasis on those in the Third Circuit, since last year's program.

Keynote Presenter:

Perry Zirkel, Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA


10:00 am 11:10 am

A. New State Evaluation Standards: Implications for Special Education Staff and Students with Disabilities With the introduction of revised evaluation systems for educators in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, questions arise as to the potential legal complications of using the same rubrics for special education teachers and related educational specialists as for regular classroom teachers.  For example, do the general education rubrics based upon the Danielson model conflict with the provisions of the student's IEP?  The presenters, representing both states, will explore the ramifications of possible legal claims resulting from the application of the new standards.


Robert Cormany, Ed.D., PAPSA,- Carlisle, PA


Erin D. Gilsbach, Esq., King, Spry, Herman, Freund & Faul, LLC - Bethlehem, PA

Mental Health Issues in Schools: Service and Placement Issues It is undisputed that student mental health issues adversely affect learning and educational progress in significant ways.  All too often schools provide mental health services on a fragmented and piecemeal basis. This session grapples with the service delivery and placement issues that plague schools and that prevent students from receiving appropriate mental health services.  Moreover, it will provide practical recommendations for addressing barriers to delivering and supporting effective, comprehensive mental health services.


Timothy Gilsbach, Esq., Fox Rothchild - Blue Bell, PA


Angela Uliana-Murphy, Esq., Murphy and Murphy, P.C. - Pen Argyl, PA
Julie B. Fogt, Ed.D., Centennial School of Lehigh University - Bethlehem, PA

C. How to Locate, Identify, Evaluate and Educate Children with Traumautic Brain Injuries and Concussions This session will focus on the identification, location and evaluation of children with traumatic brain injuries and/or concussions in relation to the IDEA and Section 504.  For example, are children with concussions eligible for a 504 plan?  Instead, when, if at all, are they eligible for an IEP?  What are the latest cases for students with TBI more generally?  The panel will provide practical answers to deal with these emerging questions.

Moderator: Gina Scala, Ed.D., East Stroudsburg University - Stroudsburg, PA

Aimee R. Zundel, Esq., Weiss Burkardt Kramer, LLC - Pittsburgh, PA
Charles Jelley, Esq.,
Tremba & Jelley – Greensburg, PA

Gender Identity: The Legal Intersections with Students with Disabilities Issues Our society as a whole is becoming increasingly aware of the complex issues concerning gender identity, with the schools on the front lines for these issues in relation to children.  For example, is gender dysphoria a disability under the IDEA or Section 504?  If not, what should and must schools do to meet the needs of transgender students or any students struggling with gender identity?  Join us for a free-flowing discussion about helping students and administrators tackle these questions.


Jane Williams, Esq., Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams, L.L.P. - New Britain, and Pittston, PA


Ira M. Fingles, Esq., Hinkle, Fingles, & Prior - Lawrenceville, NJ; Plymouth Meeting and Bala Cynwyd, PA
David F. Conn, Esq., Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams, L.L.P. - New Britain, and Pittston, PA

The Wish List of Parents and Schools: What Each Wants of the Other Schools and parents both say their ultimate goal is for the education of the child, but how they get to this goal is quite another story.   We have the Best Wish List for each side.  The hope is that hearing both perspectives will lead to more effective working together to achieve this shared goal.  Hear two seasoned attorneys, one who represents parents and one who represents districts, discuss their respective wish lists, not just for the other side but also for their clients. Get ready for a practical and enjoyable session.


Sarah B. Dragotta, Esq., Law Office of Sarah B. Dragotta - Glenside, PA


Jennifer C. Lowman, Esq., Law Office/Consultant - Glenside, PA
Scott H. Wolpert, Esq., Timoney Knox, L.L.P. - Fort Washington, PA

Chartering Cyber Territory: FAPE, LRE, and Related Services in Charter and Cyber Schools As charter schools in general and cyber schools in particular continue to proliferate, so too must the field of special education keep pace. This session will identify barriers and explore best practices in aligning these schools with the IDEA.  Illustrative issues that this session will address include the obligations, if any, of the school districts of location and residence, compliance with the LRE component of FAPE, and the avenues for monitoring and enforcement.

Moderator: York Williams, Ph.D., West Chester University - West Chester, PA

Catherine Merino Reisman, Esq., Freeman, Reisman, Corolla, & Gran, LLP - Haddonfield, Princeton, & Freehold, NJ
Nicole Snyder, Esq., Latsha Davis & McKenna, P.C. - Exton, PA

11:20 am - 12:30 pm

Repeat of session A, B, C, D, E, and F

12:30 pm - 1:30 pm



1:40 pm - 2:40 pm

G. So You Have an Expert Witness—Now What? The use of expert testimony is becoming more acceptable at IDEA impartial hearings. This session will explore the use of expert testimony with particular emphasis on why expert testimony may be desirable and who can serve as an expert witness. Criteria for assessing whether expert testimony is admissible and the weight that expert testimony will carry in a proceeding will also be discussed. Perspectives will be shared through the eyes of an Administrative Law Judge, a school district attorney, and a parent attorney.

Moderator: Beth Godett, Ed.D., Retired School Administrator -
Presenter: Barry E. Moscowitz, ALJ, Office of Administrative Law - Newark, NJ

Lori M. Gaines, Esq., - Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler - Cranberry, NJ
Michael A. Davis, Esq., - School District of Philadelphia - Philadelphia, PA

TO IEE or Not to IEE, That Is the Question This session will provide a lively discussion on independent educational evaluations (IEEs) that will include discuss not only the applicable legal standards, but also the practical strategies and factors for respective parent and district consideration.  Illustrative legal issues that this session will address include:  What is the legal meaning of IEE?  When must a district pay for an IEE?  In such cases, may a   school district limit the choice and/or the cost of the evaluator?  In situations where the parent provides an IEE without seeking public payment, what, if any, obligations does the district have under the IEE?


Kristine Roddick, Esq., King, Spry, Herman, Freund & Faul, LLC- Bethlehem, PA

Michael J. Connolly, Esq., Connolly, Jacobson & John, LLP - Doylestown, PA
Grace M. Deon, Esq., Eastburn and Gray, P.C. - Doylestown, PA

Touchdowns and Strike-Outs: Equal Access to School Sports and Activities for Students with Disabilities This session will review the Dear Colleague Letter from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) regarding extracurricular activities issued in January 2013, OCR’s more recent letter in response to the NSBA request for clarification, and related Section 504 issues specific to participation of students with disabilities in interscholastic athletics and other extracurricular activities.


Michael Kaelber, Esq., New Jersey School Boards Assoc., - Trenton, NJ


Isabel Machado, Esq., Machado Law Group - Clark, NJ
Scott K. Johnson, Esq., Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP - Media, PA

Zero Tolerance or Too Much Tolerance for Students with Disabilities? The original rationale for zero tolerance was to deter serious offenses via firm and strong disciplinary consequences.  In practice, zero tolerance in state laws has had a much broader reach and impact.   The intersection of these state laws and local policies with the legal protections of the IDEA and Section 504 is particularly problematic. This session will explore the complex issues faced by districts and parents in striking an appropriate balance between these competing legal considerations for the sake of education that is fair and effective for both the individual student with a disability and the collective interest of the education entity.


Silvia Diaz, Esq., Wisler Pearlstine, LLP - Blue Bell, PA


Jennifer M. Lukach Bradley, Esq., McAndrews Law Offices, Wayne, PA
R. Taylor Ruilova, Esq., Comegno Law Group, P.C. - Moorestown, NJ

Twice Exceptional Children: Eligibility and FAPE Under the IDEA, Section 504, and State Law Twice-exceptional ("2e") children are gifted students who are also eligible under the IDEA or Section 504.  Because of their complex profiles, the identification, placement, and programming for 2e children may be hotly contested between their school districts and parents.   Further complicating the potential litigation is the extent of legal protection under state law, including the applicable statute of limitations.   This session will address these various issues with real case examples.


Kevin Golembiewski, Esq., Law Offices of David J. Berney, PC - Philadelphia, PA


Jennifer Y. Sang, Esq., Law Offices of David J. Berney, PA - Philadelphia, PA
Mark Fitzgerald, Esq., Fox Rothschild, LLP - Blue Bell, PA

Attendance of Students with Disabilities: Where Are You and How Do We Get You Back? More and more often, students with disabilities have significant attendance issues.  While the reasons can be based on real and/or perceived obstacles, the legal duty to continue to provide FAPE remains with the school district.  This session will analyze the legal problems and offer possible legal solutions.


Raphael Morales, M.Ed., South Brunswick School District - South Brunswick, NJ

Nathanya G. Simon, Esq., Schwartz, Simon, Edelstein, & Celso LLP - Whippany, NJ
Philip Drumheiser, Esq., Attorney at Law - Carlisle, PA

Ethics for Attorneys in the Special Education Context
This session will focus on recent professional responsibility and attorney discipline decisions from the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and New York courts. Participants will apply these decisions to recurring problems in special education negotiation and litigation. This session will accord special attention to negotiation and litigation with unrepresented parties.


Clare Papay, Ph.D., Arcadia University - Glenside, PA

Thomas A. Mayes, Esq., Iowa Department of Education - Des Moines, IA

2:50 pm - 3:50 pm

Repeat of sessions G, H, I, J, K, L, M