2015 Leadership Symposium Presenters

Selene A. Almazan
Selene Almazan is currently 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 22 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 25 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. Since September 2014, Selene has been the Legal Director for the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) where she supports the work of the Amicus Committee as well as federal and local policy issues.  Beginning in May 2015, Selene maintains a private practice also focusing on parent and student representation in special education matters, with a primary focus on least restrictive environment.

Tessie Rose Bailey, Ph.D.
Dr. Bailey is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Montana State University Billings. She received her Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Utah and completed post-doctoral work in Response to Intervention (RTI) and Transition Services at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania. Prior to moving to Montana, she was a Senior Research Analyst for American Institute for Research (AIR) in Washington, D.C., where she served as Co-coordinator of Technical Assistance for the National Center on Response to Intervention (NCRTI). She has conducted over 150 national and local RTI presentations and trainings and published several book chapters and peer-reviewed articles, including Implications of Scientifically Based Research and Peer-Reviewed Research in IDEA on Special Education Litigation and RTI: Avoiding Legal Confusion with GEI.

David Boulton
President of Learning Stewards and Director of the Children of the Code Project, David Boulton is a learning-activist, technologist, public speaker, documentary producer, author, a featured blogger for the National Association of School Superintendents, and a contributor to Wired’s Innovation Insights.

David’s articles on learning have appeared in: The Brain-Mind Bulletin, In Context, The California School Board’s Journal,  The American Music Teacher, Management and Conjecture (France), Centecemes (Mexico) Information Research (England),  New Horizons for LearningYoung ScholarQuantum Leap (China) and others. Articles about his work have been featured in blogs, journals, and books including: The Journal of Developmental EducationPoisoned Apple: The Bell Curve Crisis and How Our Schools Create Mediocrity and Failure, Working Wisdom (Timeless Skills and Vanguard Strategies for Learning Organizations), The Interactive Corporation: Enhancing Profits, Performance and Productivity in Your Business, Schools Out: Hyper learning and the end of Education, On The Brain and Research Access. His “Stewarding Healthy Learning” blog is featured on the site of the National Association of School Superintendents.

David’s  k-12 education orientation and vision have been presented at the World Futurist Society, The 21st Century Learning Initiative, The New American Schools Design Team, at both the California and National Education Summits, the Ontario (Canada) School Board Association, The International Baccalaureate School of Hawaii, The Chinese Ministry of Education, The Dalian Medical School. He was the featured presenter at dozens of Apple Computer educational events and has presented his work on the Children of the Code Project at over 100 events including the national conferences of the International Dyslexia Association, the National Center for Family Literacy, the American Library Association, Scientific Learning’s National Circle of Learning, the National School Mental Health Association, and the Science Network’s Science of Educating Conference.  He has keynoted events including South Carolina’s Education and Business Summit, the Georgia School Superintendents Association Conference, The Nebraska School Psychologists Conference, The Florida State Literacy Conference,  and at dozens of colleges and schools. His websites have won the Teacher Information Network Gold Award and the Innovative Teaching Concepts Award of Excellence.

 As a technologist David created an early Electronic Book, a digital cable broadcasting system and Electronic Publishing for Learning, a system for publishing information intended to facilitate learning. As an organizational learning theorist and software architect David designed Apple Computer’s ‘Electronic Campus’ and the feedback components of Pacific Bell’s ‘Employee Knowledge Link’ system. AIG, H.P., Mazda, ALLTEL, NEW YORK Life Insurance, Bank of America and many other Global 2000 companies have implemented his ‘learning circuits’ and organizational learning and feedback concepts. His last patent, “A Method and Apparatus for Implementing User Feedback“, involves a different way of thinking about digitally distributed learning that has promising implications for how the Web of the future will evolve and perform.

David has founded five companies and been awarded four patents. His last start-up, DiaCom/2way (today, ‘Validar’) went on to win the Smithsonian Award for Innovation and appeared on Upside Magazine’s Top 100 private companies list.  He has been an adviser to the Chair of the California Senate Education Committee and a member of the U.S. D.O.E.’s Gateway Project. David appeared in the PBS Television show “The New Science of Learning: Brain Fitness for Kids” and in the Science Network’s “The New Science of Educating” broadcast. He is a past member of the 21st Century Learning Initiative and the Dialogue Research Project at M.I.T.’s Organizational Learning Center.

Peggy Bud
Peggy Bud is a certified and licensed speech/language pathologist. She provides targeted Effective Communication support to individuals, small businesses, families of special needs students, and public and private schools. She uses her background in language and communication to empower her clients. Through training sessions and individual coaching she develops her clients’ communication skills, ensuring their message is clearly understood and remembered. When she coaches families, she teaches them how to have smart conversations with their school district; helping get their children the appropriate supports and services. When working with educators, she provides professional development training; helping them to build partnerships with families. Peggy also supervises student teachers for Sacred Heart University, helping her students learn and implement best practices. Peggy has a Master’s Degree from Southern Connecticut University and over 30+ years of hands on experience working in the public schools. She has a 6th Year Certificate in Education Leadership from Southern Connecticut University and is a certified School Administrator with 10+ years’ experience.

Peggy has written educational materials, children’s books, policies and procedures, and had an advice column for parents. Her educational materials include a puzzle book entitled Unusual Animals and a beginner’s puzzle book called Puzzles I Can Do Myself. She wrote The Path to Popularity; A Guide for Middle School Students, which delivers a Dale Carnegie message.

Dr. Clayton Cook
Dr. Clayton Cook is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota. He is the Associate Director of the School Mental Health Assessment, Research, and Training (SMART) Center at the University of Washington. He received his PhD from the University of California, Riverside. Dr. Cook is a licensed psychologist and works with school systems across the country on designing and implementing multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) as a way of integrating mental health services into the schools. Dr. Cook has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and books on topics involving assessment and intervention practices to promote student academic and social-emotional success. His early research focused on helping establish the evidence base of the current PENT behavior intervention plan. He was recently invited to attend the White House Summit on Bullying and served on the Center of Disease Control and Prevention’s Expert Panel on Bullying. He has received and managed over 5 million grant dollars to conduct practically relevant research geared towards improving social, emotional, and behavioral supports within schools.

Clayton Cook is the co-founder of Project CREATE, which is a response to intervention program used to address the emotional and behavioral problems of students in environments ranging from general education to restrictive settings. Clayton has also been a behavioral consultant on Project REACH for five years, which is a federally funded grant focusing on delivering evidence-based interventions to the 1-3% of students with the most intense social, emotional, and behavioral problems.

Melisa Genaux
Melissa Genaux works with school districts across the country in the areas of classroom and behavior management, Autism Spectrum Disorders, social skills training, effective consultation practices for itinerant staff, and special education legal/compliance issues. She presents at conferences and workshops for teachers, school administrators, related services staff, and parents. In addition, she provides consultation services on individual student case management and district program development. She has worked as a special education supervisor and has served as a consultant to the Utah State Office of Education. She has written and produced training videos for the education and law publishing company, LRP Publications, and is a speaker at the LRP Institute on Legal Issues of Educating Students with Disabilities.

Amy Goetz, Esq.
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.

Dr. Claire Greer
Claire Greer, Ph.D., is a Research Associate at the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies, in the Department of Allied Health Sciences, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction as Consultant for Autism, Severe Intellectual Disabilities and Multiple Disabilities and was the Director of the North Carolina Deaf-Blind Project. She has worked for the states of North Carolina, Kentucky and Wyoming as a Classroom Teacher, Program Specialist, Educational Director, and Exceptional Children Consultant.

Elaine Hall
Elaine Hall also known as “Coach E!” and called “the child whisperer” by The New York Times – was a top Hollywood children’s acting coach whose life changed dramatically after her son Neal, adopted from a Russian orphanage, was diagnosed with autism. When traditional behavioral therapies did not work for him, she sought the esteemed Dr. Stanley Greenspan who encouraged her to rally creative people to join Neal’s world. Slowly, he emerged out of his isolation.

Hall then created The Miracle Project, a theatre and film social skills program profiled in the Emmy Award-winning HBO documentary Autism: The Musical, which now has locations in Los Angeles and New York City. A media personality, she blogs for The Huffington Post and has appeared on CNN, CBS, Oprah Radio, and Autism Radio and been featured in The LA Times, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. She has received honors from Autism Speaks, the Autism Society of Los Angeles, the Mayor of Los Angeles, Senator Pavley, Areva Martin, Holly Robinson Peete, Etta Israel, and the Shalom Institute. Los Angeles Magazine named her one of “Los Angeles’s 50 most inspiring women.”

Her memoir, Now I See the Moon, was chosen for World Autism Awareness Day at the United Nations, where she has spoken several times. Now I See the Moon was recently selected for Jewish Disability Awareness Month in February 2013. Hall presented her latest book, Seven Keys to Unlock Autism: Creating Miracles in the Classroom, at an international conference in Jerusalem. She directs an arts enrichment and religious education program at Vista Del Mar.

An international keynote speaker and workshop leader, Elaine Hall calls attention to the modern-day epidemic of autism while celebrating the value of the human spirit in overcoming any challenge.

Kenya Haynes
Kenya Haynes is the State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth at the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE). A former elementary school teacher, Ms. Haynes joined WDE in 2002. Her duties have included serving as the Wyoming director of gifted and talented education, the Wyoming home school coordinator and school improvement specialist. She is the co-chair of the Southeast Wyoming Homeless Collaborative and a member of the review board for the Safe Shelter unaccompanied homeless youth host home project in Laramie County, Wyoming.

In addition to leading the Wyoming homeless education program, Kenya is the Title I, Part D State Coordinator (Neglected or Delinquent Student Programs), Office of Civil Rights Liaison, and the Title IX (Gender Equity) State Coordinator, as well as working on various state at-risk student initiatives. She has presented at the local, state and national level on her program areas. In December 2010 Ms. Haynes was appointed liaison to the National Expert Panel for the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent or At-Risk. She began a two-year term on the board of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth in 2015.

Lenore Knudtson, Esq.
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 Jurist 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.

Jose L. Martin, J.D., Attorney At Law
Jose Martín is a partner with the school law firm of Richards Lindsay & Martín, L.L.P. in Austin, Texas. For the last twenty years, his practice has focused on matters involving the education of disabled students under the IDEA and Section 504. He is a graduate of the University of Texas 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.

Katherine S. Mehfound, Esq.
Ms. Mehfound is a partner in the Richmond, Virginia office of the international law firm of Reed Smith LLP. She has practiced law for approximately 37 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 aspects of education law.   She has been recognized for many years in the publication Best Lawyers in America for 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.

Mark A. Mlawer
Mark Mlawer has worked with and on behalf of people with disabilities for 30 years. He served as a counselor in a group home for adolescents with emotional disturbances and chronic mental illnesses, and as a case manager for adults with chronic mental illnesses, for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health from 1984-86. From 1986-88 he was a child advocate for the Massachusetts Office for Children, responsible for advocacy in one area of the state on behalf of children and youth with multiple, complex and interagency service needs.

From 1988-95 he was executive director of the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education. In this position he was responsible for program development, administration, and evaluation; state and federal public policy analysis and advocacy; financial management; and fundraising.

Since 1993, he has participated in a variety of projects as a consultant. From 1994-97 he represented 18,000 students with disabilities on the court-ordered Management Oversight Team of the Baltimore City Public Schools. He has delivered training and technical assistance on special education compliance, monitoring and inclusion issues in a number of states; designed, with a small work group, a model state monitoring system of school district special education compliance in the Angel G. case for Advocacy, Inc. in Texas, and served as an expert witness in that case; was the external evaluator and monitor in 1997 and 1999 of Pennsylvania’s compliance with the Cordero court orders; evaluated the effectiveness of Louisiana’s implementation of a focused monitoring system for the state in 2000 and again in 2004; evaluated the effectiveness of Florida’s complaint management system for the state in 2004; evaluated the effectiveness of Michigan’s system for monitoring special education compliance in its charter schools in 2002; evaluated the effectiveness of Wyoming’s special education monitoring system in 2006; and is one of the co-authors of the National Council on Disability’s 2000 report on IDEA compliance, Back to School on Civil Rights.

He is currently the federal Court Monitor overseeing the Ravenswood City School District’s and California Department of Education’s compliance with the court orders and corrective action plans in the Emma C. litigation. He also currently serves as an external expert in a number of cases, and provides training and technical assistance related to general supervision issues for the Wyoming Department of Education.

David Richards, Esq.
Mr. Richards is a partner in the Austin law firm RICHARDS LINDSAY & MARTIN, L.L.P., where his practice is focused on the defense of school districts and special education co-ops. He is the General Counsel for the Council of Educators for Students with Disabilities and is a frequent presenter on §504, IDEA, NCLB and other school law topics at education service centers, school districts, and conferences in Texas and throughout the country. His analysis on education law issues frequently appears in LRP’s publications The Section 504 Compliance Advisor, The Special Educator, and Your School and the Law. He is a graduate of Texas Tech University, and the University Of Texas School Of Law.

Dr. Patrick Schwarz
Dr. Patrick Schwarzs 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. Schwarz has considerable experience in lecturing and teaching nationally and internationally about School and Community Inclusive Education. This year’s Leadership Symposium has focus on Inclusive Education throughout the two days of Best Practice professional development being offered to Wyoming’s educators. Dr. Schwarz has already achieved exceptional results working with select Wyoming school districts in a professional development role.

Aaron Stabel
Aaron Stabel, M.A., is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst based in Truckee, California.  As a behavioral and educational consultant for school districts and families, he assesses and implements interventions for children with ASD, ADHD, emotional disturbances, and other developmental disabilities across the United States.  Aaron also worked at the UC Davis MIND Institute consulting on applied research within public school systems, most recently for the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism.

Mr. Stabel has extensive experience and knowledge in the area of Positive Behavior Intervention Systems (PBIS) and Response to Intervention (RtI) programs. His acquired skills allow him to teach how interventions can apply to everyone in education who is involved with managing problem behaviors all across school settings.

Stephanie Weaver
Ms. Weaver is a principal partner in Pingora Consulting, LLC. She offers over twelve years of experience in state education agency administration, strategic planning, fiscal controls and program improvement. Business finance and data analysis expertise served as the foundation for Ms. Weaver’s career, which proved invaluable as she followed her heart (and her parents) into a career in the field of education. Now considered a national expert and an indispensable resource on all matters pertaining to special education, school finance, and refining education systems, Ms. Weaver is regularly engaged to work with school districts and states in programmatic finance, data analysis, legal compliance, and systems management.

The transition to education immersed Ms. Weaver in new challenges, all of which she welcomed. Her ability to assimilate new information quickly and share her knowledge with others facilitated her promotion to the Deputy Director of Special Education position within the Wyoming Department of Education, where she spent almost nine years.  Ms. Weaver holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management with honors from Montana State University, Bozeman and a Masters 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.

Julie J. Weatherly, Esq.
Julie Weatherly is the owner of Resolutions in Special Education, Inc. with attorneys in Birmingham and Mobile, Alabama. Julie is a member of the State Bars of Alabama and Georgia, and for almost 30 years, has provided legal representation and consultative services to school districts and other agencies in the area of educating students with disabilities. 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 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 Georgia’s Individual who had Contributed Most to Students with Disabilities. In April 2012, Julie received the National CASE Award for Outstanding Service.