Now in its third decade, Lehigh University’s annual, week-long Special Education Law Symposium in June swelled its registrations to 352, surpassing even last summer’s record registration. Registrants for this third virtual symposium via Zoom webinar hailed from 35 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Attendees included 22 Lehigh students enrolled for graduate credit.
Registrants included front-line educators and school administrators, charter school officials, parent advocates, attorneys (both sides), and state officials and hearing officers.
An important goal of the symposium is that an understanding of the legal parameters of the IDEA and Section 504 will guide school officials and parent team members in their design of appropriate, individualized special education programs in the least restrictive setting, reduce disagreements, and obviate the need for expensive litigation.
The symposium faculty included twenty-eight prominent special education attorneys (both sides) from 19 states and the District of Columbia, providing a careful balance of school and parent viewpoints, a traditional strength of the symposium.
Featuring yet another stellar program that surveyed this special education legal landscape, the symposium offered three-hour “hot topics” at the heart of the latest IDEA federal court decisions and state developments: dyslexia, abuse of and by students with disabilities, settlement strategies, compensatory services and compensatory education, “stay put,” “dueling attorneys,” and also Section 504, the increasingly important anti-discrimination disability statute.
The overlapping, but separable Section 504 Coordinators Institute again registered nearly a hundred professionals with school district Section 504 responsibilities and featured several of the nation’s leading Section 504 attorney and non-attorney experts: Jose Martin (Texas), Lehigh alum Kathleen Sullivan (Colorado), Judith Nedell (Connecticut), and Lehigh’s Dr. Perry Zirkel, university professor emeritus of education and law.
Symposium sessions were recorded for later registrant viewing.
Lehigh alum Thomas Mayes (Iowa Department of Education) and David Rubin (New Jersey) offered an interactive session exclusively for attorneys: “Ethics and the Special Education Attorney.”
Co-directors Dr. James Newcomer and Dr. Zirkel were ably assisted by Shannon Weber, Donna Johnson, Megan Cook, and Denise Campion (technical support).