COPAA Conference, March 2013

This month I attended the 15th Annual Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPPA) Conference in Albuquerque, NM.  This conference offers a wide variety of sessions aimed toward advocacy.  It is my goal to keep updated with a vareity of issues which impact my clients.  I am including a list of the sessions I attended and a description of the sessions.  If you see information covered in the conference and are interested in discussing how it may apply to your case or circumstances, please email or call my office.  


  • Litigation Strategies: Creating a Winning Paradigm for Due Process

A Walk Through A Due Process Case and the Issues and Procedures Which May Arise

Presented by: Jon Zimring, Esq. and Mark Martin, Esq.

Description: This one day session serves as a strategic review of due process for attorneys handling cases. It is an excellent follow-up to COPAA’s New Attorney and Due Process training and for attorneys who have some due process experience. The program focuses on the hearing process from problem to complaint to mediation to evidence preparation, hearing presentation and enforcement. Participants will explore the steps in building and presenting a case and the issues and problems which may arise. Practical issues and responses will be considered as have actually arisen in cases. Preparation of pleadings and model pleadings will be made available for use by the participants after the seminar. The focus is on what will happen and how to actually handle the case as it unfolds to develop a winning strategy.


  • Allergies and Access

Presented by: Alexis Casillas, Esq. and Eric Sams, Esq.

Description: Statistics show that at least two students in every American classroom have a food allergy. With the number of diagnosed allergies on the rise, advocating for educational access for students who suffer from severe and often life-threatening allergies is a topic most special education attorneys and advocates will encounter at some point in their careers. Nearly 8% of all American families deal with food allergies, and almost 39% of those students have a severe and/or life-threatening allergy. But what is being done to address these unique situations? When is a Health Plan enough? What kind of services and accommodations can be provided for under a 504 Plan and/or an IEP? What kind of rights do students with life-threatening allergies have when it comes to accessing an educational environment? These questions and more will be explored in this breakout session.


  • Advanced Eligibility for Special Education and Related Issues

Presented by: Claudia Roberts and Mark Kamleiter, Esq.

Description: Students with mental health issues, Asperger’s Syndrome, Non-verbal Learning Disability, Tourette Syndrome, Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder, and other such disabilities are often not identified as having a need for special education services. This course is designed to assist advocates and attorneys in more complex eligibility determination cases. The course will also discuss related issues of specially designed instruction in these types of cases.


  • Preparation and Advocacy Strategies Before the IEP Meeting

Presented by: Mandy Favaloro and Carrie Watts

Description: This presentation will focus on how thorough and careful preparation can provide advocates with the tools needed to successfully and effectively advocate for clients from start to finish. In this session, advocates will learn specific skills and strategies to fully prepare a case. We will focus on skills related to reviewing and summarizing documents, issue spotting in advance of IEP meetings, organization strategies, letter writing skills, and working with experts.


  • Not Just Hand Washing: OCD & Other Anxiety Disorders at School

Presented by: Sondra Kaplan

Description: Knowing about the basis of anxiety disorders and the accommodations these children often need is key to helping these students attend and function at school. Learn how to advocate for and get appropriate services for those students, who now make up 8-12% of our student population!


  • Executive Functions: Their Impact on Learning and Solutions for Remediation

    Presented by: Ann McCarthy and Laurie Markus

Description: Are you advocating for a child who struggles to pace himself, becomes easily distracted, forgets to write down assignments, has difficulty getting started on tasks, becomes overwhelmed, or performs inconsistently? If so, this child may have deficits in executive functioning which impact his or her learning. Executive functioning deficits are often intertwined with a wide range of disabilities and have an adverse impact on a child’s ability to be successful at school. Education advocates Ann McCarthy and Laurie Markus will demystify the term ‘executive functioning’ by explaining in practical terms what it is and how it impacts school functioning. Based on their collaboration with the diagnostic and executive functions coaching teams at The Southfield Center for Development in Darien, CT, they will discuss best practice with regard to the evaluation of executive functioning, and how to turn the results of key assessments into action plans for parents and educators. Ann and Laurie will share both their success stories and bumps in the road with regard to incorporating executive functioning remediation into IEPs. They will discuss how (and when) executive functioning deficits should be addressed via an IEP or a 504 Plan.