New Mission

New Mission


My idea is to explore how other countries around the world are dealing with education and special education issues. I’d like to see different successful schools, wherever they may be, up close. I’d like to sit down with directors and administrators. I’d like to speak with government officials who keep a pulse on the education affairs of their communities. I want to learn more about education around the globe through speaking with locals, seeing the schools, and shaking hands with the people responsible for implementing the systems. If you know of any outstanding (public or private) special needs schools in other parts of the world, I’d love to hear about them. If you know any education experts from around the world, I’d love to be introduced to them. Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts or ideas. Read more about my mission.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Restoring Hope During Adolescent Crises" Panel Event at the Robert Louis Stevenson School on Thursday, April 3

The Robert Louis Stevenson School will be presenting an event on Thursday, April 3 called Restoring Hope During Adolescent Crises.  Please find the relevant information below.  Tickets are $22.09 a piece after fees. 

Parents and Professionals, Please Join Us at Stevenson for
Restoring Hope during Adolescent Crises
an evening of networking and panel discussion

Date: April 3, 2014
Time: 6:30-8:00 PM


Adolescence features major developmental tensions physically, socially, emotionally and academically. As a parent of an adolescent, you may feel hard pressed to know how to help your child with complex problems. Our panel of experts will provide you with key pointers for recognizing problems when they start and offer specific ways to help your child engage in a meaningful, well-balanced life. 

Questions to be addressed: When is intervention needed?
Does your adolescent need an alternative school environment? Will your adolescent ever go back into mainstream education? What are reasonable parenting expectations? What supports should you make sure exist on a college campus?  Professionals working with adolescents and their parents may also find this event quite helpful.

Our panel:
Sherri Maxman, owner of College Maven, LLC, has a specialty in providing college counseling for high school students with learning differences. Ms. Maxman is a graduate of the Independent Educational Consultants Association’s Summer Training Institute and is a member of NYSACAC.

• Matthew Mandelbaum, PhD, is the Director of Outreach at the Robert Louis Stevenson School, a college preparatory day school in Manhattan that offers a high-quality education designed to help students succeed. Dr. Mandelbaum is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Fordham University and holds a MA in Education and a MA in Psychology.

• Erika Nagy, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst specializing in helping parents who have children with learning issues, ADD and anxiety.  Ms. Nagy also holds a MA in Education and post-graduate certificates in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.

• Victor Schwartz is the Medical Director of The Jed Foundation, the nation’s leading organization working to prevent suicide among American college students. Dr. Schwartz is recognized nationally as a college mental health leader.

• Sharon Thomas, MSC, MSED, Director of MAIAA Parent Resource Center and Educational Consultant at the Brearley School. Ms. Thomas is a learning disabilities expert and works closely with families to develop comprehensive individualized educational plans. 

Seats Still Available.  Kindly Invite Your Friends, Clients, and Colleagues.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Speaking Engagement at the Rebecca School on Thursday, March 27


I have been invited to speak at the Rebecca School on Thursday, March 27 regarding the special education process and the right to funding.  I am providing the relevant information below for all who may wish to attend.  Please feel free to forward this information to anyone else who might be interested:


What Every Parent Must Know
About The Special Education Process 

Presented by:

Michelle Siegel, Esq. 
Adam Dayan, Esq. 

Join us: 

March 27, 2014 
6:30 PM

Rebecca School
40 East 30th Street
New York, NY
212.810.4120

RSVP
Elizabeth O'Shea

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

COPAA Conference 2014


This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the annual Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) conference in Baltimore, Maryland, a short and immensely enjoyable 3-hour Amtrak train ride from NY Penn Station.  This year's conference boasted the largest attendance ever, attracting approximately 550 attendees from all over the country.

This was my 5th COPAA conference.  As I contemplated this while roaming the corridors of the Waterfront Marriott where the conference was held, moving from one session to the next, this felt like a significant milestone for me.  As usual, the conference gave me an opportunity to reflect on where I’ve been over the last year.  It was also nice to look around and recognize a significant number of the attendees.

Sessions

The conference offered the usual assortment of trainings and workshops.  Some highlights for me included:

Cross Examination of Experts - Great full-day workshop with Frank Hickman and Tracey Walsh focusing on the art of cross examination.

Legal and Academic Perspectives on America's Public Education - Big-picture, policy-related session considering the roots of education from the 1600’s through the present, new movements including online education and school choice, and the usual hot-button issues of accountability, high-stakes testing, evaluations, and teacher performance.  The afternoon portion of the day (a bit harder to get through perhaps due to sleep deprivation kicking in) addressed the intricacies of the Common Core and Universal Design for Learning, and their implications for special needs students.

Keynote Speaker LeDerick Horne - This year's speaker, LeDerrick Horne, truly delivered.  He spoke about the difficulties he experienced as a child with a learning disability and the constant fear of public embarrassment that he endured on a daily basis.  When he was close to breaking down, he chose instead to break through.  He pushed through elementary and high school, attended college, and obtained his undergraduate degree.  He has become an entrepreneur and performance poet who has worked as an advocate on the national, state and local level.  While he continues to struggle with his learning difficulties, he has devised useful tools to help him cope.  His presentation also included a poem or two.  More information available at www.lederick.com.

General Session - Matthew Cohen delivered an impassioned speech, acknowledging the gains we have made in the areas of disability and civil rights law, but emphasizing the big steps we still need to take to move forward.  He spoke forcefully, peppering the audience with real-life examples of injustices he has seen in cases he has handled, and the energy in the room rose quickly.  That led to a group discussion with the audience, which led to several people speaking about the importance of embracing the concept of individuals with different abilities and focusing what unique skills people have rather than focusing on what they lack, which resonated with me and reminded me of my visit to the Ann Sullivan Center.   

Life Planning for Families of Loved Ones with Special Needs - An emphasis on special needs trusts and guardianships, and how those issues can be tied into due process hearings and/or settlement agreements.

Creating a Winning Stay Put Argument - An interesting session that highlighted some of the many permutations that one might encounter when dealing with the issue of "stay put" and the question of what should be considered a child's last agreed upon placement.

Retrospective Testimony/Monday Morning Quarterbacking - Unfortunately I did not attend this event, but after hearing everyone talk about it, I wished I had.  The session focused on the issue of retrospective testimony, and the implications of recent court decisions regarding this issue.  

A Case Study: An Effort To Grow Special Education Advocacy Awareness - Andy Cuddy presented on his recent media campaign to reach impoverished special needs parents in Rochester through the use of television commercial spots.  The campaign emphasized raising awareness in a tactful way.  While some may have dismissed the event off-hand, I was glad I attended.  I found the presentation to be professional, informative, and thought provoking.  

Redefining Functional Skills for the 21st Century - This workshop helped me to reconsider what it means for a child with special needs to be "functional" in the 21st century, with a focus on inclusion in a general education setting.

Latest Top 40 Chart-Topping Decisions - The most entertaining case law review that I have ever attended (and it's no easy task to make this stuff exciting).  The presenters delivered their top 40 cases over the last several years in the format of a top 40 music countdown, highlighting fact scenarios that were particularly ridiculous and excerpts from decisions containing language that was particularly powerful.  
 
To Parents

COPAA is a great organization to join if you think you might benefit from a network of attorneys, advocates, parents, and others involved in the area of special needs.  Parent membership costs $50 per year and provides access to a wonderful community.  For more information, you can visit the COPAA website: http://www.copaa.org/.

COPAA 2015

Next year's conference is scheduled for March 5-8, 2015 at Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego, California!