2014 Leadership Symposium Presenters

Best Practice Institute Presenters

Joanne Cashman, EdD.
Dr. Cashman is the Director of The IDEA Partnership at the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE).  Joanne has a unique blend of academic preparation and practice knowledge. For 27 years she worked as a teacher, building principal and director of special and alternative education and dropout prevention for the Shikellamy School District in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. Throughout her tenure, she served in numerous committee position and advisory roles for the Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Labor.  Before joining NASDSE, she was the project director of The Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Program at George Washington University (GWU).   Dr. Cashman is a frequent presenter for state and national audiences and has authored articles, practice manuals and book chapters that bridge policy and practice.   Her research interests include: shared policy agendas and cross-cutting policy strategies; organizational learning; system convening and communities of practice. She received her doctoral degree in special education from the George Washington University, Washington, DC.

Dr. Marilyn Friend (Co-Teaching)
Marilyn Friend, Ph.D., has spent her career as a general education teacher, special education teacher, researcher, professor, administrator, teacher educator, and staff developer. She is Professor Emerita of Education in the Department of Specialized Education Services at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and she is Past President of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving the educational success of children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents.

Dr. Friend has consulted with school professionals nationally and internationally (more than 3000 presentations and projects in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia) as they collaborate to educate their students, assisting them to create classroom partnerships, to form productive and efficient work teams, and to foster inclusive practices.  She is the author or co-author of three widely used college textbooks on special education; a variety of co-teaching materials for teachers and administrators; more than 50 articles about collaboration, inclusive practices, and co-teaching; and a highly popular video series on co-teaching and other inclusive practices.

Dr. Laurie Barron (Creating a Model Climate)
Earning her place among the nation’s best, Dr. Laurie Barron was the leading force behind the turnaround of Smokey Road Middle School. When she took over in 2004, she was the fourth principal to run the school in five years. However, by demonstrating her commitment to the success of students and staff members, she was able to tackle the rampant discipline problems, high absenteeism, and low student achievement.

“NASSP’s experience has taught us time and again that nothing is more challenging or essential to school improvement than changing the school’s culture,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “With genuine concern for her students’ welfare, Laurie Barron established at Smokey Road Middle School a model climate of what the Breaking Ranks school improvement framework requires undefined a personalized environment where every student is known and feels valued.”

Currently in her eighteenth year in education, Dr. Barron served six years as a high school English teacher and coach, two years as a middle school assistant principal, and nine years as a middle school principal in Newnan, Georgia.  She has also been an adjunct professor at the college level.  She is currently the superintendent of the Evergreen School District in Kalispell, Montana.

Dr. Barron is a National Board Certified Teacher and was honored as a Teacher of the Year and STAR Teacher.  Her work as the principal of Smokey Road Middle School in Newnan, Georgia led to her selection as the 2013 MetLife/NASSP National Middle Level Principal of the Year and to Smokey Road Middle School’s selection as a one of five middle schools in the nation to be named a 2011 MetLife Foundation–NASSP Breakthrough School.

Dr. Barron is also a national speaker who provides motivation and professional development to teachers and administrators through promoting shared leadership, data-driven decision making, mastery-based assessment, inclusive teaching and learning environments, and job-embedded professional development. Most importantly, Dr. Barron believes that building relationships with students while celebrating what students do right is the key to success in any school.

Dr. Barron lives in Whitefish, Montana with her husband Daniel and their daughter Emma, where together they enjoy hiking, rafting, biking, and snow skiing.

Dr. Patrick Schwarz (Achieving Successful Student Outcomes)
Dr. Patrick Schwarz is a dynamic and engaging professor, author, motivational speaker and leader in Education (Inclusive Education, Special Education, General Education, Educational Leadership) and Human Services. He is a professor at National-Louis University, Chicago. Patrick’s company is Creative Culture Consulting LLC. He is the author of From Disability to Possibility, You’re Welcome (with Paula Kluth), Just Give Him the Whale (with Paula Kluth) and Pedro’s Whale (with Paula Kluth). His new book is From Possibility to Success.

Dr. Clayton Cook (Behavior)
Clayton R. Cook, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the College of Education at the University of Washington. He is a former para-professional, teacher, behavior specialist, and school psychologists. He consults with school systems across the country on designing and implementing multi-tiered systems of support that address social, emotional, and behavioral barriers to academic success.

Robbin Keating-Clark (The expanded core)
Robbin Keating-Clark serves as the Educational Projects Coordinator for the Board of Education & Services for the Blind (BESB) in Children’s Services Division in Connecticut. She also worked as the vision rehabilitation therapist in the Children’s Services division at BESB. Robbin is the Executive Camp Director for Camp Abilities Connecticut, a one-week developmental sport camp for children with visual impairments. Professionally, Robbin has worked as a teacher for children who are deafblind and an early intervention therapist for children with vision impairments. Personally, Robbin has been active in the vision impairment community since her youth; working with her mother who has total vision loss. Robbin writes a blog for children with vision impairments and their families, www.adifferentkindofvision.blogspot.com. She completed her vision rehabilitation therapist graduate degree at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock.

Robbin Keating-Clark is a lively and fun national presenter and advocate of the Extended Core Curriculum. She “gets” vision loss, blindness and deaf-blindness and the needs of families and providers. She has experience as a deaf-blind teacher, early intervention/developmental specialist, and Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT)

Lenore Knudtson (Key components of SPED process)
Lenore Knudtson is an attorney, child-advocate, and parent. She provides technical and legal assistance in special education to states and school districts nationally. Her private practice focuses on advocating for the needs and rights of children. Ms. Knudtson began her career as a School Psychologist. She has extensive knowledge of the court system and issues families face, including health, child abuse, delinquency and dependencies. She is a parent of a child with special health needs and knows firsthand what families go though in order to receive services. She is currently a member of the National Association of Counsel for Children and the Mohave County Children’s Action Team. Ms. Knudtson has a Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law, a MS in Education from the University of Wisconsin, and a BA in Criminal Justice and Legal Administration from Ball State University.

Pingora Consulting (Key components of SPED process)
Stephanie Weaver is a principal partner in Pingora Consulting, LLC. She offers almost fifteen years of experience in strategic planning, fiscal controls and program improvement.  Business finance and data analysis serve as the foundation for Ms. Weaver’s career.  This expertise proved invaluable as she followed her heart and her career into the field of education.  Now considered an expert and an indispensable resource on all matters pertaining to educational leadership, Ms. Weaver is regularly engaged to work with school districts and states in programmatic finance, data analysis, legal compliance, and systems management.

For almost a decade, Ms. Weaver served as the Deputy Director of Special Education for the Wyoming Department of Education.  Ms. Weaver holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management with honors from Montana State University, Bozeman and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Wyoming.  As a life-long learner, Ms. Weaver has expanded her knowledge and skills to include certification as a mediator.  She incorporates the facilitation and team building expertise of a professional mediator across all aspects of her profession, making her an expert in working with diverse groups and building cohesive workplace teams. Her foundation, knowledge, and team building skills have uniquely positioned her for the most recent and exciting challenge, the development of Pingora Consulting, LLC.

UW/WIND (Transition Communities of Practice)
Three Communities of Practice (CoP) have been formed, and are working to help Wyoming educators navigate student transition issues. Their work has been to identify and recommend improved transition planning and processes for Wyoming to increase successful student transition outcomes.

The CoPs focus on using experts in the field to share new ideas, connect with Wyoming practitioners within the field, refine current knowledge, and disseminate information back to administrators, teachers, service providers and parents statewide. The CoPs focus on improving the transition from Part C to Part B, early childhood; elementary to middle school and transition into and out of behavioral intervention programs; and transitions from secondary school to post-secondary education, employment and community living. All aspects of transition are being researched, and take into account the learning needs of transitioning students with disabilities.

Members develop a communication plan to share CoP outcomes with teachers, parents, service providers or members of the constituency represented. One required goal is to provide presentation by Community of Practice members to the 2014 Leadership Symposium.

Project Eye To Eye (Mentoring)
Project Eye-To-Eye is a national mentoring program that matches college and high school students with learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (LD/ADHD), acting as role models and mentors, with elementary, middle, and high school students with LD/ADHD in order to empower these students and help them find success. According to longitudinal research studies, the most important factor in the success of an LD/ADHD child is self-esteem and not IQ. Project Eye to Eye’s programming model empowers LD/ADHD students by building self-esteem through mentoring. Project Eye to Eye is the only organization in the country that has applied the power of mentorship on a national level to the LD/ADHD community.

Education Law Seminar Presenters

Julie Weatherly
Julie Weatherly, Esq. is the owner of Resolutions in Special Education, Inc. in Mobile, Alabama and is a member of the State Bars of Alabama and Georgia.  For twenty-six years, Julie has provided legal representation and consultative services to educational agencies in the Southeast and across the country in their efforts to comply with the laws applicable to educating students with disabilities.  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.  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 videotape training series on special education law 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 1998, Julie was honored by Georgia’s Council for Exceptional Children as Georgia’s Individual who had Contributed Most to Students with Disabilities.

Jose Martin
Mr. Jose Martin is a partner with the law firm of Richards, Lindsay, & Martin, LLP in Austin, Texas.  His practice focuses exclusively on disabilities issues and litigation affecting the schools, including special education consulting and litigation under the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.  He represents numerous public school districts in the state of Texas, and has developed a close understanding of the day-to-day challenges faced by schools in achieving compliance with state and federal disabilities laws.  He is a graduate of the University of Texas in journalism, and the University Of Texas School Of Law. A background in journalism has led Jose to frequent publication in the area of disabilities laws and their effect on public schools. He currently serves as Contributing Editor to the national LRP publication The Special Educator and LRP’s online-based Special Education Connection. As a speaker, Jose presents numerous topics on disabilities laws to numerous audiences at national, regional, and state conferences, as well as local education agency staff development programs.

Kathleen Mehfoud
Kathleen S. Mehfoud is a partner in the Richmond, Virginia office of the international law firm of Reed Smith LLP.  She has practiced law for 35 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 over eighty school districts, state education agencies and other educational groups.  She lectures nationally on a frequent basis to various national groups on various aspects of education law.   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 presently serves on the national board of the Council of School Attorneys for the National School Boards Association and on the Special Education School Attorneys Advisory Council for LRP Publications.

Ms. Mehfoud also serves as Chairman of the University of Mary Washington Foundation and is a Past-President of the University of Mary Washington Alumni Association.  She was a member of the University of Mary Washington Board of Visitors for eight years and Rector of the University for two years.

Ms. Mehfoud received her undergraduate education at Mary Washington College and earned a Masters of Commerce degree from the University of Richmond.  She obtained her law degree from the University of Richmond.

David Richards
David M. Richards received his undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University in 1985, graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. While at Texas Tech, he received the Allen Scholarship from Pi Sigma Alpha for excellence in political science. Dave received his Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University of Texas at Austin in 1989. During law school, he was a member of the Legal Research Board (1987-88) and a Notes and Comments Editor on the Texas International Law Journal (1988-89). He was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1989, and is admitted to practice in all of the federal district courts of Texas, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

David is a partner in the Austin law firm Richards Lindsay & Martín, L.L.P. The firm is devoted entirely to the defense of school districts and special education cooperatives. He focuses his school district practice on the areas of  §504 and special education. He has published numerous articles in the Texas School Law News and Apex Insurance’s The Report Card, was the editor and a contributing author to The Texas Principal’s Handbook, and co-author of School Risk Management and Public Officials Risk Management. His presentations and materials have also been referenced numerous times in LRP’s Section 504 Compliance Advisor, The Special Educator, and Your School & the Law. He is General Counsel for the Council of Educators for Students with Disabilities (CESD), and a frequent speaker on disability law topics at schools, as well as regional, state, and national conferences throughout the country.

Tom Shorter
Mr. Thomas Shorter is a shareholder in the education Practice Group at Godfrey and Kahn, S.C. in Madison, Wisconsin.  Mr. Shorter represents educational institutions, providing counsel in special education (IDEA and Section 504), privacy (HIPPA, FERPA), labor and employment, and regulatory matters such as collective bargaining, FLMA compliance, discrimination issues and discipline and discharge.  His education clients include public and private K-12 educational institutions.

Lenore Knudtson
Lenore Knudtson is an attorney, child-advocate, and parent. She provides technical and legal assistance in special education to states and school districts nationally. Her private practice focuses on advocating for the needs and rights of children. Ms. Knudtson began her career as a School Psychologist. She has extensive knowledge of the court system and issues families face, including health, child abuse, delinquency and dependencies. She is a parent of a child with special health needs and knows firsthand what families go though in order to receive services. She is currently a member of the National Association of Counsel for Children and the Mohave County Children’s Action Team. Ms. Knudtson has a Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law, a MS in Education from the University of Wisconsin, and a BA in Criminal Justice and Legal Administration from Ball State University.

Amy Goetz
Ms. Amy J. Goetz is the founder of the School Law Center and co-founder of the former Center for Education Law, Ltd., law firms focusing on the rights of students and families in education and school law disputes. Ms. Goetz has worked in education law since 1995, first as a staff attorney with the Minnesota Disability Law Center in Minneapolis, then as a complaint investigator at the Minnesota Department of Education, and most recently in the private practice.

Ms. Goetz is the proud parent of two beautiful children with disabilities. Amy is a native to Minnesota and received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University Of Minnesota and the University Of Minnesota Law School, cum laude. She is licensed to practice law in the state courts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as in the federal court of Minnesota, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.

Ms. Goetz has successfully raised and resolved hundreds of student and family claims through formal and informal means, obtaining favorable results that have significantly impacted the lives of hundreds of children and their families, as well as changing and improving school and legal systems across Minnesota. Amy has litigated education law claims in administrative hearings and in appeals through the federal courts. She has provided training and teaching to parents, attorneys, judges and other groups, as well as presentations as a guest lecturer in various education and law classes in the Twin Cities area. Before working in education law, Amy worked in legal services offices for nineteen years as an attorney and support staff on issues including family law, child custody, adoption, juvenile court proceedings, housing, and government benefits.

Selene A. Almazan
Selene is the Director of Advocacy Services and Co-Executive Director of the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education (MCIE), a non-profit organization founded in 1989. For the last 21 years, Selene has represented parents in special education matters with a primary focus on least restrictive environment issues at the MCIE. As the Director of Advocacy Services, she directs the only legal services project devoted solely to the issue of least restrictive environment in the country. The Advocacy Project has represented over 3000 individual students in the last 20 years throughout the state of Maryland. Selene represents families at IEP team meetings, state complaint proceedings, mediations, due process hearings, suspension/expulsion proceedings and federal court proceedings, including matters involving violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Selene is a former Supervising Attorney for the Legal Aid Bureau of Maryland where she represented children in the foster care system, including representation in special education matters. She has extensive experience training families, teachers, school administrators, attorneys and advocates on legal issues related to special education law as well as disability discrimination issues. Selene is a member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA).   She was Chair of the Board of Directors for COPAA for 2006-2007 and continues to serve on its Board and Co-Chair of the COPAA Amicus Committee and Conference Committee.