2017 Symposium Faculty

anthonyl_photoLaura Anthony, J.D. (Ohio)

Laura Anthony is the Chair of the Education Practice Group of Bricker & Eckler LLP, which has offices throughout Ohio.  Her practice is focused on student and disability-related issues in K-12 schools and higher education.  In her special education practice, she advises boards of education, county boards of developmental disabilities, and other public entities on issues arising under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and related state laws.  Her practice also includes attending IEP meetings and mediation sessions, representing school districts in due process hearings and related litigation, responding to special education complaints, and serving as a designated hearing officer for student discipline matters.  Laurahas conducted numerous workshops and courses onwide variety of legal topics for regional, state and national education organizations as well as individual school districts. Laura is a summa cum laude graduate of the Ohio State University and received her JD from the Ohio State University Mortiz College of Law.


Maria Blaeuer, J.D. (Maryland)

Maria Blaeuer is a Staff Attorney at Advocates for Justice and Education, the District of Columbia’s federally designated Parent Training and Information Center.

She has spent most of her legal career in private practice focusing on special education law and the needs of students with disabilities in low-to-moderate income communities.  As part of that practice, she has provided professional development and continuing education about special education to attorneys, teachers and other service providers in the District of Columbia, Virginia, Massachusetts, Illinois and Pennsylvania.  In her current role, Ms. Blaeuer works with schools and families to ensure that students receive the best education possible under the law.  She brings a unique perspective to this role, having participated in the IEP and special education process as a student with an IEP herself, as a teacher of students with disabilities, as a parent, and now at AJE, as an attorney for students and families.

She obtained her Bachelor’s degree with honors from Virginia Commonwealth University, earned her law degree from Howard University School of Law and is pursing a Master’s degree in Education Policy.  Ms. Blaeuer is a native of the Washington D.C. region, and serves as an appointed member of the Montgomery County, MD Commission on Juvenile Justice, and the Lawyer Assistance Committee of the D.C. Bar. She is also on the board of a small charter school serving at-risk, and over-age and under-credited students.

Ms. Blaeuer lives near Montgomery County, MD’s agricultural reserve with her husband, three children, and the family’s cats, dogs, and chickens.

champagnej_photoJeffrey Champagne, J.D. (Pennsylvania)

Jeffrey Champagne has recently retired as a member of the Education Law Group of McNees, Wallace & Nurrick in Harrisburg (central Pennsylvania) and is now a consultant. He served five years as the Chief Counsel to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and previously as trial attorney and program manager in the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. He is nationally recognized in the area of special education and disability law. In addition to representing school districts on IDEA and Section 504 matters, he has focused upon administrative law, school finance, and government relations. He graduated from the University of Michigan with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and earned his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.


William Culleton, J.D. (Pennsylvania)

William Culleton has served as an impartial special education hearing officer for the Pennsylvania Office for Dispute Resolution for the past ten years. Previously he had been an advocate for individuals diagnosed with physical and mental disabilities for twenty-seven years in New Jersey. His undergraduate degree is from St. Joseph’s College and his J.D. is from Washington University in St. Louis. He is certified by the National Association of Hearing Officials (NAHO).

Prior to becoming a Pennsylvania hearing officer, Mr. Culleton served as trial and appellate counsel in state and federal courts. His cases ranged from civil commitments and the standards for appropriate treatment of persons diagnosed with mental disabilities to class action law reform litigation and administrative appeals of statewide regulations. He served on New Jersey statewide panels for reform of the mental health system and served as an administrator in his state government advocacy office for seven years.


Andrew Faust, J.D. (Pennsylvania)

Andrew Faust is a partner with the law firm of Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams, LLP. He has represented public school entities throughout Pennsylvania in special education and civil rights litigation since 1986, appearing at every level of the state and federal judiciary and in hundreds of administrative due process proceedings. He has spoken widely on special education, student services, and civil rights to audiences of educators, attorneys, college students, and parents and has appeared as an expert witness on special education.



Lisa Hardcastle, M.S. (Texas)

Lisa Hardcastle, Coordinator of Section 504 and Dyslexia, Clear Creek Independent School District in League City, TX has 18 years of experience in public education. She began her career as a pre-school teacher, then worked as a dyslexia specialist in elementary schools, as well as high school before assuming the role of coordinator in Clear Creek ISD, a large (41,000 students), suburban school district south of Houston. Ms. Hardcastle has an undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University, as well as a Master of Science in Reading from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Ms. Hardcastle has presented on topics including ADHD, dyslexia, homebound services and Section 504 across Texas.


Hollie John, J.D. (Pennsylvania)

Hollie John is a founder and partner of Jacobson & John LLP, where she represents families in all aspects of special education matters, from providing consultation, to attendance at meetings, to due process hearings and federal court litigation, and everything in between.  Ms. John was previously a shareholder in a Bucks County, Pennsylvania law firm where she spent a decade of her legal career representing public school entities throughout Pennsylvania. Ms. John’s legal career also includes service as Law Clerk to The Honorable William J. Furber, Jr. of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, and as Assistant District Attorney for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.  She received her J.D. from Villanova University School of Law.

Ms. John has been an active member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Legal Services for Exceptional Children Committee, where she served as Vice Chair, and more recently, as Chair. Ms. John speaks throughout the state to parents, educators, Ph. D. candidates, college students, and attorneys on special education and other education law related topics.


Michele Kule-Korgood, J.D. (New York)

Michele Kule-Korgood has devoted over twenty years in private practice to representing parents of children with disabilities in order to secure an effective education for their children.  While studying psychology as an undergraduate, Michele became a personal care assistant for a classmate with cerebral palsy.  Her classmate’s refusal to be defined by his disability inspired Michele to pursue a career in teaching special education.  Years later, as a special education teacher, Michele’s efforts to help a student obtain assistive technology, so he could have a voice in the world, again changed the course of her life.  In order to effect change for a greater number of people, she decided to attend law school and become a legal advocate on behalf of people with disabilities.  As a former special educator, Michele brings unique insight into the complex issues related to obtaining effective opportunities for children. Today, Michele is one of the most well-known, respected attorneys in the field and has successfully handled thousands of matters in special education, ensuring that every child receives equal access to the high quality education to which he or she is entitled.

Nationally, Michele is highly sought after as a speaker on special education law and policy.   She has chaired many conferences, and presented on various topics in special education law at numerous conferences, including those held by the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), the New York State Bar Association, the Practising Law Institute, and Lehigh University, and at various agencies which provide education and advocacy services.  Michele is the current Chair of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), and serves on the board of the Center for Learning Differences. Michele has argued and presented cases involving novel issues in the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Eastern and Southern District Courts, the Appellate Division and state Supreme Court (including as lead counsel, along with Greenberg, Traurig, in the landmark decision of Mr. and Mrs. A v. N.Y. City Dept of Educ. (S.D.N.Y. 2011), holding that the exercise of rights under IDEA cannot be made to depend on the financial means of a disabled child?s parents, and extending the right for direct tuition payment to schools for parents without economic means, pursuant to the Burlington/Carter analysis).  She has a number of published decisions in various courts in special education and additional education-related areas of law.


Isabel Machado, J.D. (New Jersey)

Isabel Machado is the founding partner of the Machado Law Group and has devoted her distinguished legal career to the practice of education law. By listening and asking the right questions, Isabel has developed a unique ability to truly partner with clients on creative problem solving. Her collaborative approach fosters understanding and identification of goals and potential obstacles to achievement.

Isabel’s practice involves all aspects of education law, including litigation at all levels of state and federal courts and administrative agencies. She has an in-depth background in special education law, board policy, and administrative matters. Isabel focuses primarily on counseling and litigating on behalf of school districts with respect to employment and contract matters, labor negotiations, and special education.

Isabel is a dynamic and sought-after author and public speaker, who routinely conducts workshops and in-service programs for board of education members, school administrators and staff, and industry organizations, including the New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA), New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA), Seton Hall University’s Superintendent Study Council and LRP Publications, Inc.

In 2008, Isabel was recognized by the New Jersey Law Journal and NJBIZ as one of its “40 Under 40” and a Super Lawyers Rising Star. Isabel is admitted to practice law in New Jersey and New York. Isabel also holds a Certificate of Eligibility as a School Business Administrator.


Deborah Mattison, J.D. (Alabama)

Deborah Mattison is a shareholder at Wiggins, Childs, Quinn & Pantazis, P.C., in Birmingham, Alabama. Ms. Mattison represents persons with disabilities concerning issues involving the American with Disabilities Act, as well as students and their parents in special education disputes. Prior to her current position, Ms. Mattison was the Director of Legal Services for Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service where, for 13 years, she pursued impact litigation on behalf of persons with disabilities. Ms. Mattison is a frequent lecturer regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act and special education law. She has also co-authored several publications including The Availability of Damages and Equitable Remedies Under the IDEA, Section 504, and 42 USC Section 1983 and Disabilities Education Law Report (Special Report No. 7, LRP Publications), and a special appendix entitled Strategies and Remedies for Parents Resulting from Improper Discipline for Discipline in the School (LRP Publications). Ms. Mattison was appointed to the Editorial Advisory Board of the National Disabilities Law Reporter, the American Bar Association’s Mental and Physical Disability Law Reporter Editorial Advisory Board and to the Michigan State Bar Standing Committee on Mental Disabilities. Ms. Mattison was the recipient of a Distinguished Contributing to Non-Averse Behavioral Interventions award presented by TASH. She was also recognized via two legislative resolutions from the Michigan House of Representatives and Senate honoring her work on behalf of persons with disabilities. Ms. Mattison graduated from Antioch School of Law in 1980. She is a member of the Alabama and Michigan State Bar Associations, the Fifth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court.


Dennis McAndrews, J.D. (Pennsylvania)

Dennis McAndrews is the founder and Managing Partner of McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. Mr. McAndrews regularly represents families and individuals in a variety of areas, including special education matters, estate planning, estate administration, special needs trusts, guardianship, estate planning, right-to-treatment cases and abuse cases. He has developed a national reputation in Estate Planning, Estate Administration and representation of persons with special needs.

He is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Elder Law Section Council.

He served as Executive Director and Staff Counsel to two select committees of the Pennsylvania State Senate which evaluated Pennsylvania’s system of care for persons with disabilities and drafted proposed legislation designed to modernize Pennsylvania’s legal basis for the provision of care to the intellectually disabled.

Mr. McAndrews served for fifteen years as a Special Education Hearing Officer for the Pennsylvania Department of Education. He was selected to serve as one of the first special education appellate hearing officers in Pennsylvania. During his sixteen years as a prosecutor in the Philadelphia area, and thereafter in criminal defense matters, he handled many cases involving mental disability. He was a special prosecutor in the murder trial of Commonwealth vs. John E. duPont. Mr. McAndrews is an instructor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Criminal Justice at Villanova University. He served for a decade as Chairman of the Disability Law Committee of the Delaware County Bar Association. He is a graduate of Villanova University in political science and education and subsequently received his J.D. from Villanova University School of Law.


James R. Newcomer, Ed.D. (Pennsylvania)

James Newcomer taught high school English, taught in a residential school for students with blindness in Pittsburgh, and served as an itinerant teacher of visually impaired students for the Bucks County Intermediate Unit. During this time, Dr. Newcomer was twice elected as the national chairperson of the country’s orientation and mobility specialists. He also provided staff training in community living arrangements for clients with multiple disabilities, including blindness, who were transitioning from institutions back into their communities. Dr. Newcomer later served for over 20 years as an administrator in the Quakertown Community School District in Bucks County as its Director of Special Education, Director of Pupil Personnel Services, and Assistant Superintendent. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Lebanon Valley College, received a master’s degree in special education from the University of Pittsburgh, and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from Lehigh University. His research dissertation and resultant journal articles dealt with special education litigation. During his nearly 40-year career in public education, Dr. Newcomer experienced the development and impact of special education law as a teacher, school administrator, and peer monitor for the PA Department of Education.

Nancy Reder, M.S.W., J.D. (Virginia)

Nancy Reder has served as the deputy executive director and director of government relations of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) for 17 years. Then use the rest of the attached bio starting with the second sentence. She has been an advocate and ‘public policy wonk’ for more than 30 years working on policy issues affecting children and families, with a primary focus on education, economic matters and civil rights. Her work at NASDSE has focused on IDEA implementation issues and the broad brush of education issues affecting students from birth to 21.  Nancy previously worked as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, a child welfare worker and Title I school social worker. She served as the Director of Social Policy at the League of Women Voters Education Fund. While at the League, Nancy chaired the National Committee on Pay Equity.  She then served as a senior staff member of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families and worked on the development of state systems for IBM. Nancy received her B.A. and M.S.W. degrees from the University of Michigan and her law degree from Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law.


Jennifer Rosen Valverde, J.D., M.S.W. (New Jersey)

Jennifer Rosen Valverde is a Clinical Professor of Law in the Rutgers University School of Law Education and Health Law Clinic and Co-Founder and Legal Director of H.E.A.L. Collaborative® (Health, Education, Advocacy and Law), a medical-legal-social work partnership. Before joining the Rutgers clinical faculty in 2001, Professor Valverde represented abused and neglected children as an Assistant Public Guardian in Cook County, Illinois, and infants and toddlers with disabilities as a Staff Attorney at the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc.  At Rutgers, Professor Valverde co-teaches a seminar on Special Education Law and supervises graduate students in law and social work and pediatric medical residents as they collaborate to address the non-medical causes of poor health for children and their families, with a particular focus on special education, early intervention and public benefits. Professor Valverde frequently provides training across the state and country on the early intervention and special education systems, cross-systems educational advocacy on behalf of children with disabilities in foster care, identifying and addressing adverse social determinants of health, and inter-professional collaboration amongst those in the fields of law, social work and medicine. She has published several articles on these and related topics. Professor Valverde received her B.A. in Sociology from Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and is a Magna cum Laude graduate of the Loyola University-Chicago Schools of Law and Social Work.  She is licensed to practice law in New Jersey, New York and Illinois (inactive status), and is a member of the N.J. Special Education Practitioners group and the N.J. State Bar Association.

sayb_photoBrooke Say, J.D. (Pennsylvania)

Brooke Say is currently the Chair of the School Law Group at Stock and Leader, Attorneys at Law, in York, PA.   Focusing her practice in education law, she counsels school districts across central Pennsylvania in special education, gifted, discipline, labor and employment, and civil rights matters. She has extensive experience in special education law and routinely represents clients in due process hearings, assists with the development and audit of IEPs and special education programs, provides defense for complaints filed with federal and state agencies, and litigates on behalf of clients in federal court. Additionally, she provides proactive defense services which include conducting specialized audits of IEPs, GIEPs, and Section 504 service agreements.  She also advises clients on the intersection of custody, homebound education, home school, private school, discipline, and truancy issues as they relate disabled students, and regularly appears before the Bureau of Special Education Office for Dispute Resolution, Office for Civil Rights, and Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. As the pioneer of Stock and Leader’s Special Education Series, she routinely presents on a broad range of special education topics to school district administrators and various educational  organizations and institutions.

In 2014, the Central Penn Business Journal named Brooke one of Central Pennsylvania’s Forty Under 40 business people and in 2015, she was recognized by The Legal Intelligencer as one of Pennsylvania’s Lawyers on the Fast Track.

She has also been selected by her peers and Law and Politics magazine to the Pennsylvania Rising Star list for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Raffaele & Puppio

Gabrielle Sereni, J.D. (Pennsylvania)

Gabrielle Sereni is a Partner with and Chair of the Special Education Group of Raffaele Puppio, L.L.P. in Media, Pennsylvania where she represents Pennsylvania school districts and other Local Educational Agencies in all aspects of special education matters.

Gabrielle has devoted her legal career to the practice of special education law. She represented children with special needs as a Senior Shareholder with McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. for more than five years, responsible for that firm’s federal special education litigation. Before that, she served public school districts and charter schools for five years as an associate attorney with Wisler, Pearlstine in Blue Bell, PA, representing numerous school districts in Montgomery and Chester Counties. A former federal law clerk to the Honorable Robert F. Kelly, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Gabrielle taught in the Delaware County public school system before attending law school. She is a frequent lecturer and sought-out authority on special education across Pennsylvania.

Gabrielle is a graduate of St. Joseph’s University (B.A.), the University of Pennsylvania (M.S.Ed.) and Villanova Law School (J.D.). Gabrielle has been named to the Pennsylvania Superlawyers list for 2013 through 2016, and to the Pennsylvania Rising Stars list in a joint project between Law and Politics Magazine and Philadelphia Magazine for each publication year from 2006-2011. She also volunteered her time serving as Legal Advisor for the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education from 2010-2013.


Michael Stafford, J.D. (Delaware)

Michael Stafford specializes in education law issues facing both private and public schools for the Delaware firm of Young, Conaway, Stargatt & Taylor, including special education, student rights and discipline, school policies and procedures, and staff termination issues. In particular, Mr. Stafford has represented public school districts in special education disputes in both administrative due process hearings and federal and state courts. Similarly, he has handled numerous student rights’ issues, including complex disputes over students’ free speech rights, discipline issues such as search and seizure, and expulsion hearings and appeals. In addition, Mr. Stafford works with school administrators to develop and revise policies and procedures. He provides school staff development and training on a wide variety of topics. Mr. Stafford is a 2003 graduate of Duke University School of Law.


Mark Weber, J.D. (Illinois)

Mark C. Weber serves as Vincent DePaul Professor of Law at DePaul University, where he teaches Special Education Law, Disability Law, Torts, and other subjects.  He is the author of Special Education Law and Litigation Treatise (4th ed. forthcoming), Special Education Law Cases and Materials (with Mawdsley and Redfield) (4th ed. 2013 & supplements), Disability Harassment (2007), and Understanding Disability Law (2nd ed. 2012).  In the 2012, he served as guest editor of the Journal of Law and Education’s special issue on the thirtieth anniversary of Board of Education v. Rowley.  Before joining the DePaul faculty, he conducted a clinical program at the University of Chicago Law School providing representation for parents of children with disabilities in special education cases.  He is a graduate of Columbia University and Yale Law School.


Perry Zirkel, Ph.D., J.D., L.L.M. (Pennsylvania)

Perry A. Zirkel is university professor emeritus of education and law at Lehigh University, where he formerly was dean of the College of Education and more recently held the Iacocca Chair in Education for its five-year term. He has a Ph.D. in Educational Administration and a J.D. from the University of Connecticut, and a Master of Laws degree from Yale University. He has written more than 1,475 publications on various aspects of school law, with an emphasis on legal issues in special education. He writes regular columns for Principal magazine and NASP’s Communique, and did so previously for Phl Delta Kappan and Teaching Exceptional Children. Past president of the Education Law Association (ELA) and co-chair of the Pennsylvania special education appeals panel from 1990 to 2007, he is the author of the CEC monograph The Legal Meaning of Specific Learning Disability; the more recent books, A Digest of Supreme Court Decisions Affecting Education and Student Teaching and the Law; and the two-volume reference Section 504, the ADA and the Schools, now in its third edition. In 2012, he received the Research and Practice Award from the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the Excellence in Research Award from AERA’s Division A (Administration, Organization & Leadership). In 2013, he received the University Council for Educational Administration’s Edwin Bridges Award for significant contributions to the preparation and development of school leaders. In 2016, he received the ELA’s Steven S. Goldberg Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Education Law.