Symposium Faculty

Hope Blackburn, J.D. (New Jersey)

Hope Blackburn primarily focuses her practice in Education Law. She has decades of experience providing legal representation to dozens of public school boards, various educational institutions and school administrators. She also has experience handling matters related to labor and employment, public law, contract negotiation and drafting, governance, and litigation.

Prior to joining Scarinci Hollenbeck, Ms. Blackburn served as General Counsel for Jersey City (NJ) Public Schools, where she provided advice and counsel to the Jersey City Board of Education in all areas of school district operations, ranging from public procurement to student due process and was responsible for providing legal guidance to transition the District back to local control.

Ms. Blackburn is the former Director of Purchase and Property for the State of New Jersey, a former Assistant Counsel in the Office of Governor’s Counsel, and was Special Assistant for Policy and Planning to the Commissioner of Education, responsible for managing the Englewood School District regionalization study. As the Director of the Bureau of Controversies and Disputes for the Department of Education, she co-authored the Commissioner’s decision creating the State-operated Newark Public Schools. Ms. Blackburn subsequently served as part of the Newark Public Schools transition team and as the General Counsel for the Newark Public Schools.

Ms. Blackburn is a Trustee of the Educational Leadership Foundation on New Jersey (ELFNJ), immediate past President of the New Jersey Association of School Attorneys, and a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association and the National Association of Women Lawyers. She is co-chair of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations for Northern New Jersey and is a member of the Asperger’s Parents Education Network. Ms. Blackburn earned her Juris Doctor from the Villanova University School of Law, having earned her undergraduate degree from Princeton University, where she majored in History.


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.

Matt Cohen, J.D. (Illinois)

Matt Cohen is founder of Matt Cohen and Associates  and is well known for his work in special education law. Prior to starting the current firm, Matt was a partner in Monahan & Cohen, from 1990 to 2011.   In addition to his special education and disability rights work, he  has extensive experience in health care and mental health law.  He has been the principal litigator in a number of important special education cases and is the primary or collaborating author of several amendments to the mental health and special education laws of Illinois, as well as working on legislation at the federal level. In 1997, he was invited to the White House to participate in the signing ceremony for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997, in recognition of his participation in the process leading to the passage of that legislation.  Matt has lectured frequently, both locally and nationally,  on many special education topics, as well as on mental health and confidentiality law.

He has conducted presentations in 47 states and abroad  For many years, Matt was  an adjunct professor of law at Loyola University Law School and has also taught at Northwestern University Law School.
Matt Cohen served as President of the Board of Directors of the national Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders (CHADD) organization from July of 1999 to June of 2000, serving on the board from July of 1995 to June of 2002.    He was a founding board member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), the national special education advocacy organization, where he served on the Executive Committee from 1999 to 2003 and continues to  serve on the Board. He has been the chair of the nationally unique Illinois Attorney General’s Special Education Advisory Committee for over 25 years.  He has also participated in colloquia, task forces or work groups of the U.S. Department of Education, the US Centers for Disease Control, and the Illinois State Board of Education.

In 2009, Matt authored the book A Guide to Special Education Advocacy: What Parents, Clinicians and Advocates Need to Know, published by Jessica Kingsley Press. Matt also has been an online legal commentator for LDOnline and has had many articles published in various books, journals and magazines. He is also the author of Barriers to Inclusion in Local Schools in Illinois: A Blueprint for Change, funded by a grant from the Illinois Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities.

While engaged in private law practice continuously since 1981, Matt served as the Executive Director and Corporate Counsel of a large psychiatric services corporation from 1985 to 1990.  Matt received his law degree from the University of Minnesota (1981) and his bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College (1977).
Matt has two terrific sons, Daniel and Nathan.

Matt can be reached at

Gina DeCrescenzo, J.D. (New York)

Gina M. DeCrescenzo is the founder of GDPC, a litigation and advocacy firm dedicated to protecting the civil rights of children. She built the firm on years of civil litigation experience and an unparalleled passion for improving the lives of children.

Before founding GDPC, Gina worked as the only Special Education Attorney at a private litigation firm in Dutchess County, NY and before that as the sole Special Education Attorney at Legal Services of the Hudson Valley representing low-income children and young adults with disabilities throughout Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties. Prior to her work exclusively with children and young adults with special needs, Gina represented hundreds of clients in eviction proceedings and foreclosure actions, gaining national recognition in The New York Times.

Gina was named a Super Lawyer, Rising Star in 2017 and 2018, she is considered a Lawyer of Distinction in Special Education Law, she was named a Top 40 under 40 National Trial Lawyer, and was featured in Westchester Magazine’s 914 Inc. as a Wunderkind.

Gina received her Juris Doctor from Pace Law School and her Bachelors of Science from Fordham University. She is admitted to the United States Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, the State Court of New York, and the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. She is a member of numerous associations related to children and civil rights, most notably: Disability Rights Bar Association, American Bar Association’s Children’s Rights Litigation Committee, New York State Bar Association, Westchester Women’s Bar Association’s Education Law Committee, and Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (“COPAA”). She also serves on the Board of Directors of Family Focus Adoption Services and Parents United Learning the Special Education System (“PULSES”).


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.

Brian Jason Ford, J.D. (Pennsylvania)

Brian Jason Ford received a B.A. from Franklin & Marshall College and a J.D. with a certificate in advocacy and dispute resolution from Penn State Law (Dickinson). While at Penn State, working as a research assistant, Hearing Officer Ford studied ODR’s mediation system while completing a state-by-state analysis of special education dispute resolution systems. After law school, Hearing Officer Ford practiced special education law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for six years, representing both families and educational agencies at various points in his career. He left the private practice of law in 2010 to become a Hearing Officer and has been certified by the National Association of Hearing Officials (NAHO) since 2014.

Justin Gilbert, J.D. (Tennessee)

In 2014, 2015 and 2016, Justin Gilbert devoted substantial time to improving the lives of children with disabilities in public schools. Current litigation projects include (1) least restrictive environments in East Tennessee for children with intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, and autism; (2) state-wide funding impediments to least restrictive environment across the state of Tennessee; (3) the excessive use of restraints and isolations upon children with disabilities; and (4) the provision of health services through Section 504 and the ADA for children with impairments such as epilepsy and other neurological impairments.

Mr. Gilbert has initiated direct federal actions involving abuse cases, lack of funding, and systemic impediments to least restrictive environments. He has also tried numerous due process cases for children with disabilities, followed by federal court enforcement actions across the state – in Knoxville, Nashville, and Chattanooga. He has then enforced the rights of children, as well as established important case law before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on issues ranging from retaliation to school segregation of children with disabilities.

Mr. Gilbert earned his law degrees from Southern Methodist University (J.D.), 1993, and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland (LL.M.), 1994.


Lisa Hardcastle, M.S. (Texas)

Lisa Hardcastle, Coordinator of Section 504 and Dyslexia, Clear Creek Independent School District in League City, TX has 19 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.

Claudia Huot, J.D. (Pennsylvania)

Claudia Huot concentrates her practice in the area of School Law. Ms. Huot is a partner at Wisler Pearlstine, LLP, where she represents school districts, charter schools and educational management organizations, particularly in the areas of special education and student rights. She advises clients in many aspects of school law and special education law, including representation in administrative proceedings, appeals and litigation in state and federal court.  Ms. Huot has appeared on behalf of school districts in numerous due process hearings and board hearings.  She has successfully defended her school district clients in federal court appeals addressing a variety of special education issues, including the statute of limitations under the IDEA. She regularly makes legal presentations to school district clients, prepares written materials and plans and presents at seminars regarding school law matters. Ms. Huot has extensive experience in general litigation, having tried cases to verdict in federal and state courts in Pennsylvania.

Stephen Jacobson, Psy.D. (Pennsylvania)

Dr. Jacobson is a founding member of Jacobson & John, LLP, an education law firm that represents families of children with special education needs.  For nearly two decades Dr. Jacobson has presented extensively on both special and general education topics across Pennsylvania to educators, parents, attorneys and hearing officers.  Originally from Colorado, Dr. Jacobson graduated cum laude from Colorado State University with a degree in Psychology in 1991.  In 1998, Dr. Jacobson earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology cum laude from Widener University, and concurrently earned a law degree cum laude from the Widener University School of Law.  In 2014, Dr. Jacobson helped launch the PBA’s campaign “Have a Voice In Your Exceptional Child’s Education”, a State-wide bar association initiative to provide parents throughout Pennsylvania with an overview of special education rights.  From 2011-2016 Dr. Jacobson also served as Vice-Chair of the Exceptional Children Committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.


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.


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.

Thomas Mayes, J.D. (Iowa)

Thomas Mayes is the attorney for the Iowa Department of Education’s Division of Learning and Results, where he advises the department on special education law and policy and provides information on special education law to Iowa’s parents and educators. Before joining the department, he was staff attorney for the Iowa Court of Appeals, a staff attorney in Iowa Legal Aid’s Waterloo office, and law clerk to Justice James H. Carter of the Supreme Court of Iowa. Mr. Mayes is licensed to practice in Iowa courts, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and the U.S. Tax Court. He is a member and former president of the National Council of State Education Attorneys and was appointed by Chief Justice Marsha Ternus to the state’s Children’s Justice State Council. He is a member of the National Association of Counsel for Children and is a certified Child Welfare Law Specialist. Mr. Mayes earned his bachelor’s degree from Baylor University, his law degree, with highest distinction, from The University of Iowa College of Law, and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Lehigh University.

Maura McInerney, J.D. (Pennsylvania)

Maura McInerney is Legal Director at the Education Law Center. She has been a litigator in the private and public sectors for thirty years. As Special Counsel in the Trial Department of Duane Morris for twelve years, she co-counseled over sixty cases, including numerous trials and appeals at the federal, state and administrative level.  As an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Maryland, she handled dozens of administrative hearings and appeals. She also served as a law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Since arriving at the Education Law Center eleven years ago, Maura has litigated precedent-setting state and federal cases on behalf of at-risk children, including students with disabilities, including several class-action lawsuits.

In addition to leading ELC’s litigation efforts, Maura engages in legislative and policy work at the national and state level and is recognized as a national expert on laws involving the education rights of children with disabilities, children in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, and children experiencing homelessness. She represents ELC as a co-founding member of the national Legal Center for Foster Care and Education and Legal Center for Youth Justice and Education.  In 2012, Maura was named Child Advocate of the Year by the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Children’s Rights Committee for her work on behalf of children in foster care and received the national Modern Marshal Award in 2017.

Kathleen Mehfoud, J.D. (Virginia)

Kathleen S. Mehfoud is Senior Counsel in the Richmond, Virginia office of the international law firm of Reed Smith LLP.  She has practiced law for 40 years and has concentrated her practice in education law and, most particularly, in special education law.  Ms. Mehfoud provides consultation services, in-service training and advice to numerous school boards, state education agencies and other educational groups.  She has been recognized for many years in the publication Best Lawyers in America in the field of education law.  Ms. Mehfoud was recognized as one of the top Influential Women of Virginia in 2011 by Virginia Lawyers Weekly.

Ms. Mehfoud has served as Chairman of the University of Mary Washington Foundation for nine years and served on the Board of the Foundation for almost 20 years. Ms. Mehfoud is also Past-President of the University of Mary Washington Alumni Association and a former Rector and member of the University of Mary Washington Board of Visitors, serving on the BOV from 1989 through 1997.

Ms. Mehfoud received her undergraduate education at Mary Washington College earning a B.S. in Mathematics.  She earned a Masters of Commerce and J.D. from the University of Richmond.


James 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. He has served as Co-director of the Special Education Law Symposium with Dr. Zirkel for over 20 years.

sayb_photoBrooke Say, J.D. (Pennsylvania)

Ms. Say is the Chair of the firm’s School Law Group and practices in the areas of education (school) and employment law. In her school practice, she has developed expertise in advising school districts in special education, gifted, discipline, labor and employment, and civil rights matters. She counsels her clients through internal compliance audits and defends them in administrative hearings and federal litigation. Ms. Say also provides legal support to private and public employers on a variety of personnel issues, particularly on compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Family Medical Leave Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Wage and Hour laws, and Unemployment Compensation law.  She represents school districts and employers before various administrative bodies, including the Bureau of Special Education, Office for Dispute Resolution, Office of Civil Rights, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, and in federal and state court.

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

Ms. Say has been selected by her peers and Law and Politics magazine to the Pennsylvania Rising Star list for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. This honor is awarded to only 2.5% of all Pennsylvania attorneys considered in the selection process.

 Courtney Spencer, J.D. (Connecticut)

Courtney Spencer has been representing families of children with special needs in education matters for nearly eighteen years.  She represents children with a variety of disabilities to ensure they obtain the services they are entitled to by law and has successfully litigated many due process cases. Previously, Attorney Spencer worked for private firms, as well as the State of Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities before opening her own practice in 2008. As an advocate for children with special education needs, Courtney is experienced in negotiation & litigation to obtain special education services, including classroom modifications, individualized education plans, mobility access, use of computers & other special equipment, one-on-one paraprofessional assistants, therapy, tutoring and outplacement. She also represents special education students on disciplinary issues including expulsion & suspension. She was named Best of Hartford in 2011 and is well known throughout the state of Connecticut as being a fierce advocate for her clients.

Courtney is a sought after speaker on the topic of special education law in Connecticut and dedicates her time to ensuring parents know their rights within the world of special education. Courtney is also dedicated to reforming mental health law in Connecticut in regard to special education and has been working with state legislators to ensure that all children receive a free appropriate public education.

Courtney received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Connecticut where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.  She received her law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law.  She is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association and is a Bar Fellow. She is on the Attorney Wellness Committee of the Connecticut Bar Association and is admitted to practice in Connecticut District Court, the Second Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.

Rachel Stafford, J.D. (District of Columbia)

Rachel Stafford spent the early part of her career as a special education attorney representing students with disabilities in special disabilities matters in numerous counties across Maryland with Project Heal at Kennedy Krieger Institute.  After several years of advocacy, she then transitioned to serving as the Executive Director of Special Services for the Recovery School District of Louisiana, where she managed special education for over 500 students with disabilities.  In this role, she managed over 130 special education teachers and related services providers using clear, specific and ambitious performance targets to meet student academic achievement goals.

In 2016, she joined the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).  She currently manages OSSE’s monitoring of over $60 million dollars in K-12 federal grants, including IDEA. She continues to support OSSE’s IDEA monitoring team in its work with local education agencies.

She earned her law degree from Washington and Lee University and her Bachelors of Arts in English from Florida Atlantic University.

Laurie VanderPloeg, M.Ed. (District of Columbia)

Laurie VanderPloeg is the director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), at the U.S. Department of Education. VanderPloeg ensures the effective implementation of OSEP’s legislative mission, advises the assistant secretary on federal education policy related to individuals with disabilities, and provides leadership in addressing issues of American education for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities through OSEP activities and within the context of the policies of OSERS, the Department, and Congress.

Prior to joining the department, VanderPloeg served as director of special education at Kent Intermediate School District (Kent ISD) in Michigan. Also at Kent ISD, she served as assistant director for monitoring, compliance and parent support. Prior to Kent ISD, she served as a local supervisor of special education, and a special education teacher in the Grand Rapids Public Schools. VanderPloeg also served as an adjunct professor at Grand Valley State University in the special education administration program. She is a parent of an adult with disabilities.

VanderPloeg graduated from Grand Valley State University with a master’s in special education administration and a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State College. She holds administrative approvals as both supervisor and director of special education and certification in learning disabilities, cognitive impairment, emotional impairment, and K–8 regular education.

Julie Weatherly, J.D. (Alabama)

Julie J. Weatherly, Esq. is the owner of Resolutions in Special Education, Inc. with offices and attorneys in Alabama and Florida. Julie is a member of the State Bars of Alabama and Georgia, and for over 30 years, has provided legal representation and consultation to school agencies across the country in the area of educating students with disabilities under IDEA and Section 504/ADA. She has been a member of the faculty for many national and state legal institutes and is a frequent speaker at special education law conferences. Julie has developed a number of training programs that support special education legal compliance and has been published nationally as a part of her trainings, workshops and seminars. She is the author of the legal update article for the National CASE quarterly newsletter and is a member of LRP’s Special Education Attorneys Advisory Council. In June of 1996, Julie appeared with Leslie Stahl on CBS news program “60 Minutes” to discuss the cost of meeting the legal requirements of the IDEA. In 1998, she was honored by Georgia’s Council for Exceptional Children as the Individual who had Contributed Most to Students with Disabilities, and in April 2012, Julie received the Award for Outstanding Service from the National Council of Administrators of Special Education.

Liliana Yazno-Bartle, J.D. (Pennsylvania)

Ms. Yazno-Bartle is a senior associate attorney at The Law Offices of Caryl Andrea Oberman, LLC. She has been with Ms. Oberman’s firm since 1997, concentrating on legal issues of persons with disabilities and their families, education rights, estate planning, guardianship, and testing accommodations.  She is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA), Montgomery County Bar Association and is an author and frequent lecturer to the Pennsylvania Bar Association and parent groups in Pennsylvania.  Ms. Yazno-Bartle is the President of Pennsylvania Education for All Coalition (PEAC), a non-profit organization designed to promote inclusion practices in Pennsylvania.  She is a board member of the Arc Alliance where she also serves on the Guardianship Services Board, the Chat-n-Chew Parent Training Committee and a member of the DELVAL Guardianship Association at the Arc Alliance.  In 2016, Ms. Yazno-Bartle was appointed to chair the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Legal Services for Exceptional Children Committee.  Ms. Yazno-Bartle also serves as a volunteer attorney of the Wills for Heroes Foundation, a program devoted to providing free wills and other estate planning documents for Pennsylvania’s emergency first responders.  In addition to her professional affiliations, Ms. Yazno-Bartle serves as a Kids Ministry volunteer for the First Baptist Church of Doylestown, PA.  Before joining Ms. Oberman’s firm, she was a staff attorney at Legal Aid of Chester County, Inc. in West Chester for over four years where the primary emphasis of her practice concentrated on Domestic Relations, Landlord-Tenant, Public Benefits and Bankruptcy. She received her B.S. with Honors in Economics from Rutgers University, Cook College in 1989 and her J.D. from Villanova University School of Law, where she was president and co-founder of the Latin American Law Students Association.  Ms. Yazno-Bartle was born in Colombia, South America and is fluent in Spanish.


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 1,550 publications on various aspects of school law, with an emphasis on legal issues in special education. He writes regular columns for Principal magazine, Exceptionality, 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.