CONFERENCE SPEAKERS

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Joshua E. Douglass
Mallery Zimmerman SC, Milwaukee, Wis.
Joshua E. Douglass has practiced extensively in virtually all school law sectors, including leading federal civil rights investigations in schools, in-house counsel at a large urban school district, and as a hearing officer in special education due process hearings. Josh comes to Mickes O’Toole from the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights office in Kansas City, Missouri, which oversees civil rights compliance in seven states, including Missouri and Kansas. Josh led the office’s investigative and legal staff in the investigation and resolution of thousands of civil rights investigations into issues such as race or sex harassment, student discipline, special education, Title IX athletics, among many others. Josh’s work included reviewing school policies and providing training to assist public school districts and post-secondary institutions with their compliance with federal civil rights laws. Josh is a product of Missouri’s public education system, graduating from Knox County High School (’90), and the University of Missouri at Columbia (BA ’95) (JD ’01).
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David Garner
Osborn Maledon, Phoenix, Ariz.
Dave D. Garner represents private/public, K-12, and post-secondary educational institutions in litigation, administrative hearings, regulatory investigations (including OCR complaints), compliance issues, board governance matters, employment matters, student matters, special education disputes, policy advice, and day-to-day issues of all stripes. In addition, Dave develops policies, procedures, and training designed to assist clients in avoiding litigation and other legal pitfalls, including drafting/revising policy handbooks, offering compliance training on statutory and other legal requirements, and issuing alerts on emerging legal developments affecting clients. Dave is also an experienced business litigator, representing national and local clients in high-stakes litigation before state and federal trial and appellate courts on a variety of claims, including class actions, commercial leasing disputes, employment claims, professional negligence claims, and other complex contract and tort claims arising from business-related disputes.
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Karen A. Haase
KSB School Law, PC, LLO, Lincoln, Neb.
Karen Haase is a partner in the law firm of KSB School Law, where she focuses her practice exclusively on representing public school districts and related entities. She holds degrees from Hastings College, Kansas State University and the University of Nebraska College of Law. Prior to attending law school, Karen taught at both the high school and post-secondary level.
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Rebecca Heaton Hall
Weiss Burkardt Kramer, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Rebecca Heaton Hall joined Weiss Burkardt Kramer LLC as an associate in December 2014. She concentrates her practice on education law with a primary focus on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. She is primarily known for her research and work on Emotional Disturbance and Social Maladjustment. Rebecca has a diverse legal background that has provided her with the opportunity to serve as a surrogate parent in Pennsylvania schools, educational advocate, parent attorney, school district solicitor, and educational consultant. She uses her diverse background to provide our clients with a unique advantage and perspective. Rebecca routinely defends school districts in complex due process hearings and in the state and federal courts in the Commonwealth. In 2006, Rebecca received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. She graduated cum laude at West Liberty State College where she received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Rebecca is admitted to practice law in the state courts of Pennsylvania and the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
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Betsey A. Helfrich
Mickes O’Toole, LLC, St. Louis, Mo.
Betsey A. Helfrich leads the firm’s special education department. Betsey has successfully represented school district clients against a variety of claims in state and federal courts as well as in administrative hearings, including special education due process hearings. Betsey also provides general counsel to schools on special education matters and conducts local and national trainings regarding Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and all areas of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Betsey graduated magna cum laude from the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law in 2006 and in the same year was selected as a Tierra Farrow Outstanding Woman Law Student.
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Miriam M. Pearlmutter
Walter/Haverfield LLP, Cleveland, Ohio
Miriam’s practice focuses on school law, including special education, labor and employment issues, and bullying/harassment complaints. Among other matters, she advises clients on issues of employment discrimination, student discipline, disability accommodations, constitutional rights, policy drafting and implementation, and public records requests. Miriam also assists school boards with all aspects of the special education process, including training staff, attending ETR and IEP meetings, and reviewing documents for compliance. Miriam represents her clients in state and federal courts, at both trial and appellate levels, as well as before the Office for Civil Rights, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Ohio Department of Education. In her previous career, Miriam was a school psychologist and special education director, and she applies that unique perspective to the practice of law. Miriam is also co-host of the podcast, “Class Act: Updates in Education Law,” which covers legal topics relevant to school districts, board of education members, administrators, teachers and parents.
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Jan E. Tomsky
Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, Oakland, Calif.
Jan E. Tomsky is a partner in the firm Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, serving clients from the Oakland office. A nationally recognized leader in special education law, Ms. Tomsky has represented school district clients in mediations and due process hearings, as well as in special education-related litigation in both state and federal courts and in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Her expertise in special education matters has helped scores of districts to address issues and resolve disputes in this specialized field. Additionally, Ms. Tomsky has assisted districts in countless student expulsion hearings, particularly those that involve complex or sensitive issues, and has successfully defended districts’ decisions on appeal to county boards and in court. Ms. Tomsky received her Juris Doctor from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, where she won a Best Brief award in moot court and was Production Editor for the California Law Review. Prior to law school, Ms. Tomsky worked as Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid and as the Registrar at the Dominican University of San Rafael. Ms. Tomsky holds a master's degree in Education, with an emphasis in special education and student development, and a bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, both from the Dominican University of San Rafael.
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Bobby Truhe
KSB School Law, PC, LLO, Lincoln, Neb.
Bobby was raised in Elk Point, South Dakota and is licensed to practice law in both South Dakota and Nebraska. He is an excellent constitutional lawyer, having briefed First Amendment issues in multiple federal court cases in the district of Nebraska. Bobby is also adept at advising education clients on state statutory issues like the Nebraska Student Discipline Act, the Open Meetings and Public Records Acts, and the teacher tenure statutes. Finally, Bobby has extensive experience in advising education clients on strategies for understanding and complying with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). Bobby graduated with high distinction from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln honors program in 2008. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law with high distinction in 2011. An entertaining and engaging public speaker, Bobby speaks frequently to a variety of education groups on all manner of topics. Bobby regularly presents to students, parents and others on digital citizenship issues.
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Brandon Wright
KSB School Law, PC, LLO, Lincoln, Neb.
Brandon K. Wright graduated with a bachelor’s in Speech Communication from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (2001), and a master's degree in educational administration from the Department of Educational Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois (2004). He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois College of Law (2004). Brandon currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys. Brandon focuses his practice on school law, having developed a particular interest in the field of special education, due process, and co-operative school districts. He regularly speaks at roundtables, division meetings, Illinois Association of School Boards' Workshops and Conferences, Illinois Principals' Association Conferences, Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education Conferences, and In-services.

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