Section 504 Coordinators Institute

The symposium offers a separable two-day (June 27-28) education component for school district Section 504 coordinators and others interested or involved in the Section 504 mandate for school districts. The participants in the Section 504 component have the option to register for one or more of the previous days in the Symposium.


Julie Weatherly, J.D. (Alabama)

Section 504 Topics:

  • Avoiding Under- and Over-Identification of 504-Only Students: Pitfalls and Handholds NEW (Dr. Perry Zirkel)
  • Money Damages Case Law under Section 504 and the ADA: Issues and Outcomes NEW (Julie Weatherly)
  • Section 504 Nuts and Bolts: Getting Down to Brass Tacks (Lisa Hardcastle)
  • Pulling Together the Strands of Section 504 Implementation: An Informal Discussion with Colleagues (Lisa Hardcastle)


Special Education Law Symposium

The week-long Symposium begins on Sunday evening with a dinner and keynote address by the newly appointed head of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and concludes on Friday with the National Case Law Update (lunch included).

Eight, all new, litigation “hot topics” (three hours each) are offered Monday through Thursday to registrants who choose the advanced section. An added option for attorneys (only) this year is a one-hour Ethics session over lunch (included) on Tuesday.

For those registrants new to special education law, the basic section offers foundation knowledge in three-hour sessions: IDEA overview/legal terminology, child find/eligibility, free appropriate public education (FAPE), least restrictive environment (LRE), discipline, remedies, Pennsylvania regulations, and Section 504.

Laurie VanderPloeg to Give Keynote Address

Laurie VanderPloeg (District of Columbia)

Laurie VanderPloeg, Director, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education, will provide the symposium’s keynote address on Sunday evening, June 23. From her vantage point as the newly appointed OSEP leader, she will provide an authoritative report on emerging federal policy related to special education. More details will be available on this website closer to the symposium.


Advanced “Hot Topics” NEW

Justin Gilbert, J.D. (Tennessee)


Advanced “Hot Topics” Descriptors

  • You Be the Judge: Dueling Attorneys, the Facts, and the Law (Matt Cohen, Andrew Faust, and Brian Jason Ford)
  • The Intersection of RTI and IDEA’s Child Find/Eligibility: Navigating the Slippery Slope (Matt Cohen)
  • Technical Issues with Practical Consequences: Exhaustion and Statute of Limitations (Isabel Machado)
  • SEA Liability: An Emerging Parental Strategy (Justin Gilbert)*
  • Things Not to Say at a Special Education Meeting (Kathleen Mehfoud)
  • IDEA Rights of Students in Foster Care, the Juvenile Justice System, or Experiencing Homelessness (Maura McInerney)
  • Avoiding Under – and Over-Identification for Section 504-Only Students: Pitfalls and Handholds (Dr. Perry Zirkel)
  • Money Damages under Section 504 and the ADA: Current Case Law Trends (Julie Weatherly)

*  Attorney Gilbert’s reactors will be Brooke Say, a Pennsylvania school attorney, and Thomas Mayes, an Iowa SEA attorney.


Ethics for the Special Education Litigator (attorneys only) NEW

Thomas Mayes, J.D. (Iowa)

Using the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, this session will be a focused discussion of ethical dilemmas that may arise in special education disputes, such as unrepresented parties, expert witnesses, media contacts, collateral proceedings (e.g., criminal cases), and the ethics of negotiations and mediation. This session will pay particular attention to ethical issues associated with attorney self-care and responding to secondary trauma and compassion fatigue.


zirkelp_photoPerry Zirkel to Offer National Case Law Update

Concluding the Symposium on Friday, June 28, Lehigh University’s professor emeritus of education and law Dr. Perry Zirkel offers the National Case Law Update, a comprehensive review of the year’s published special education court decisions, including litigation trends and emerging “hot topic” issues. In addition, Dr. Zirkel will peer into his special education Crystal Ball and predict issues that may emerge in legislation and litigation in the coming year.