I am passionate about protecting the rights of students with disabilities and empowering families to do the same. I believe that the core of effective advocacy begins with the process of building relationships between families and school districts. In order to do that, a deep understanding of the laws and regulations governing the education of students with disabilities is necessary. Advocacy without that understanding and knowledge creates more problems than it solves.
I have over 20 years of experience in special education. I began my career as a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing, but the bulk of my experience has been at the State level working in the areas of monitoring school districts for compliance and dispute resolution of State and federal regulations in regard to the education of students with disabilities.
In various capacities, I was responsible providing technical assistance regarding special education laws and regulations to school districts and parents. I was the lead investigator for formal state complaints and I also spent a year in the Office of State Review assisting in the review and determinations of the appeals of impartial hearing decisions. Through my experience as a state complaint investigator, I found the most direct route to conflict resolution was through relationship building by facilitating meaningful conversations between the parent and the school district.
I have experience working closely with school districts to ensure quality of special education programs, services and regulatory compliance. I have also worked closely with parents of students with disabilities to provide technical assistance and to resolve disputes with their school district in a collaborative and timely manner.
I have had numerous years of experience providing professional development trainings for school districts on a variety of topics regarding special education including IEP development and implementation, transition services, and evaluations. Additionally, I have participated in and chaired numerous interagency workgroups and committees.
I have seen first hand how families struggle to understand the special education process and their rights. The parents express that they don’t feel heard, that they aren’t respected, that they aren't’ part of the process. The school districts express how overwhelmed they are with federal and state requirements, dwindling resources, staffing issues, to name only a few.
As an effective advocate, I have a thorough understanding of federal and state laws, as well as state policies and procedures governing special education. With a strong foundation of knowledge and experience, I will bring about meaningful change as your advocate by combining this with collaborative relationship building.