US Department of Education Leaders to Keynote Lehigh’s Special Education Law Symposium

The country’s two top special education officials will jointly provide the keynote address on Sunday, June 22 to kick off Lehigh’s annual intensive week-long Special Education Law Symposium ( from June 22-27.  
Michael Yudin is the nominee to be Assistant Secretary of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). Dr. Melody Musgrove is Director, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Their keynote address will be “The IDEA and Section 504 Landscape: Inclusion, Equity, and Opportunity.”


New to this year’s Lehigh symposium is an inaugural two-day specialized institute exclusively for administrative law judges and other impartial hearing officers under the IDEA. The two-day ALJ/IHO Institute will be webcast to state agencies on June 26-27. 
Dr. Perry Zirkel, symposium co-director, notes the importance of hearing first-hand from the country’s leading special education officials: “These two offices are the administering agencies for the federal laws that govern special education; when they talk, we listen.”       
Lehigh’s annual symposium attracts participants from across the country, more than 80 having attended the 2013 symposium. Featuring a faculty of legal experts from several states, and representing both school district and parent perspectives, the symposium presents a practical analysis of legislation, regulations, and the latest case law developments concerning the education of students with disabilities.                                                                                 
The symposium offers two parallel tracks. The basic track provides a comprehensive exploration of various foundational principles of special education law, such as eligibility, FAPE, LRE, discipline, Section 504, and remedies and is intended for teachers, graduate students, parents, school administrators new to their positions, and others with limited coursework in this area. The advanced track provides the latest developments and nuances sought by experienced special education directors, attorneys (on both sides), and hearing officers.
New “hot topics” for this year’s advanced track are Restraints and Seclusion, Harassment of Students and Their Parents, Complex Section 504 Issues, AWOL and other “Invisible” Students under the IDEA, ED Eligibility and Discipline Complexities, and High Stakes “Hybrid” Residential Placements. Dr. Perry Zirkel provides for all attendees a concluding comprehensive review of case law for the year past and its implications for practitioners  as well as a “crystal ball” of the upcoming year.
Reflecting on its success over the years, symposium co-director James Newcomer, who was a special education director and assistant superintendent for the Quakertown Community School District and who has a doctorate from Lehigh’s College of Education, concluded. “Given the potential for expensive and distracting litigation, the symposium’s lectures and comprehensive manual have proven to be vital over the years to professionals new to the special education field, as well as to those experienced professionals looking for the latest updates and nuances in their efforts to provide FAPE to this important student population.” 
Week-long or “per day” registrations are available, and the symposium may be taken for Lehigh graduate credit or on an in-service basis. Additionally, the PA Bar Association provides CLE credits for attorneys. For more information, see