Navigating the hundreds of pages of legalese that mandate education services for children with disabilities can be overwhelming. IDEA: Blueprints to Special Education simplifies that process. These sessions cover the legal rights and options that parents, advocates, and educators must know to ensure that students receive the services they need to succeed and thrive in school. Presented by experts in special education law, this workshop provides information on state and federal laws regulating special education, IEP and 504 plans.


 Next Session:

October 21, 2017 (Registration coming soon!)

Morning session will include:

Building a foundation for the Individualized Education Program (IEP); Identifying and involving the IEP team, and developing the IEP to meet educational standards.

  • Panel presentation
    • Evaluation Process  – How does it get captured in an IEP (what drives services)
    • Eligibility: How is it determined? How old must a child be?  Must a child be identified as a certain category to receive services?
    • The IEP Meeting: What can I expect? What do all the sections mean? Do we need all these people here? How is it authorized, what do I sign? My IEP is Out of Date, what steps can I take to modify it?Involving the IEP team, each person’s role (funding, training, instructional design, therapy recommendations)  
    • It feels One Size Fits All- What program types and related services are Available? How to pursue 1:1 support, ABA, OT, Counseling, SLP, Staff training, other related services.
    • Understanding FAPE (meeting educational standards) & the LRE; Alternative or private placements
    • Emergency Response Protocols – when is it considered seclusion and restraint? What are my child’s rights
    • Transition Planning.  Does academics stop at 12th grade for a student who is going to school through 21?  When does vocational training start, what if all on campus experiences are janitorial? How do I negotiate for meaningful off campus experiences, at what age can it start?
    • What are the steps I can take to resolve disputes with the IEP – Letters to a stranger:  The teacher is ignoring my child’s needs, the principal doesn’t know my child, how do I write a letter to a stranger?)

Afternoon session will include:

Small group discussion with attorneys representing the region including Q&A time, in-depth small group discussion.  There will be an opportunity to attend all sessions. Topics covered may include:

Initial assessments, reevaluations, IEEs  

  • Evaluation Process In Depth – How does it drive programming, what if the school did a cursory eval, what if my child is non-verbal and has challenging behaviors, what if my child is gifted, but has uneven abilities, IEE’s, how do I write a letter asking for one.   

IEPs – special education and related services  

  • Effective education – How do I negotiate for research based and evidence based methodology, how much data can I ask for?  How often can progress be reported, what if the expectation is REALLY low, how can I negotiate for access to general ed. for a highly impacted student, how can I negotiate for access to the gifted program if my child has social & organization needs?
  • How to secure services for high functioning students who don’t present with exceptional needs (needs fall through the cracks)
  • Transition Plans & Vocational Training
  • What does 18-21 look like for higher functioning students – College prep, etc.

Placement & resolving differences; Due Process

  • Placement – Full range of instructional arrangements & supplementary aids & services, how to negotiate for appropriate supports in the least restrictive environment, what if there are no good options in the district, how & when do I negotiate for private placement
  • Resolving differences; “I can’t afford an attorney, my child’s been out of school for 4 months!” Documentation along the way in case you ever need to duke it out!  “Where do I begin?”

Discipline, Emergency Response Plans, and recent changes in the law

  • Positive Behavior Supports, safety plans, how to write letters, what information to include.  “I’m worried my 4 year old will be secluded or restrained without my knowledge or approval.  How can I  do to protect her?”  What to do if faced with harmful restraint and isolation.


WAAA offers full scholarships for this workshop.

Please send an email to for scholarship details.

Presenters (subject to availability)

Katherine George
An attorney with Johnston George, Katherine George, Esq. has been practicing law in WA for over 10 years, emphasizing the rights of students under the law. Her primary focus is to help obtain appropriate public programs, funding for private services, and other related issues.

Charlotte Cassady
Charlotte Cassady has specialized in representing parents seeking services from school districts for over 15 years. She graduated from Tulane Law School with honors in 1989 and began practicing law in Seattle in 1990. Ms. Cassady developed an interest in special education and disability law while doing volunteer work with Team Child, a non-profit civil legal aid organization.

Jeannette Cohen
Jeannette Cohen has a Master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Washington, and a law degree from Seattle University. Jeannette taught as a special education teacher for ten years and then worked as an Educational Consultant on behalf of parents with special needs children in public schools in the greater Puget Sound area, providing feedback and recommendations to IEP teams. Currently with a law degree, Jeannette’s practice focuses on school issues involving Special Education, 504, discipline, bullying and harassment, as well as helping parents obtain services through the Developmental Disabilities Administration and obtain guardianships for their children when they reach eighteen years old. Jeannette also has been working in the area of family law since February of 2009, specializing in helping families with special needs children navigate the complex issues of family law.

Nicholle Mineiro
Nicholle Mineiro is licensed to practice in both Washington and California, and is a member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates.  Her focus is on special education and civil rights litigation, with a growing sub-practice in the rights of students with allergies. A California native, she attended UCLA and Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, California, before relocating with her family to Washington.  Nicholle practices law at Cassady Law. Her background in public entity defense litigation, including school district defense, gives her an in-depth perspective and comprehensive approach to representation of students. Prior to law school, she earned a Master’s in Education from Claremont Graduate University, and taught elementary school in Title I schools and full inclusion classrooms. She has served on the board of directors of a nonprofit preschool and children’s organization, and currently does pro bono work for the King County Bar Association and nonprofits.

Lara Hruska
Lara Hruska provides general counsel and issue-specific legal services for schools at all stages of formation with particular emphasis on developing systems and supports to effectively serve all students. She also works with families of students in traditional school districts to ensure access to quality education and civil rights. Lara practices law at Cedar Law PLLC. Lara received her JD from the University of Washington School of Law and also holds an MSW in Child and Family Welfare Policy from Columbia University, an MSEd in Special and General Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education, and a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from U.C. Berkeley. Prior to becoming an attorney, Lara taught children from pre-kindergarten through middle school in California, New York, and Louisiana, where she served as the founding special education director for two post-Katrina charter schools in New Orleans.

Kerri Feeney
Kerri Feeney is one of the very few attorneys practicing in Eastern Washington State dedicated to the representation of parents/students in special education disputes. She actively supports numerous professional organizations, including the American Bar Association, Washington State Bar Association, Washington State Autism Alliance, American Diabetes Attorney Network, and the Council of Parent and Attorney Advocates. In addition to her legal education, Ms. Feeney holds a Master of Education degree from Washington State University and completed training through the Program on Negotiation/Mediation at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is fluent in Spanish, both written and spoken.

Carrie Griffin Basas
Carrie Griffin Basas is the Director of the Office of Education Ombuds.  Carrie is a former civil rights and labor law attorney.  For many years, she was a law professor, specializing in disability rights, criminal justice, and ethics. She has taught at the University of North Carolina School of Law, Penn State University, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Tulsa College of Law, and Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.  In 2014, Carrie returned to graduate school to attain a MEd in Education Policy, Organizations, and Leadership from the University of Washington.   Carrie is also a graduate of Swarthmore College (Honors B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Sociology/Anthropology) and Harvard Law School (Juris Doctorate degree).


Workshop Fees

Parent = $45.00
Student = $35.00
Professional = $85.00

($10 discount during early registration)
full scholarships available



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