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18th Annual School Law Institute


Speaker(s): Caroline J. Heller, Deusdedi Merced, Elisa Hyman, Emily Gold Waldman, Jesse Cole Cutler, Ralph C. DeMarco, Selene A. Almazan, William Meyer
Recorded on: Jun. 7, 2018
PLI Program #: 221987


Professor Emily Gold Waldman joined the Pace faculty in 2006, after clerking for the Honorable Robert A. Katzmann, Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Prior to her clerkship, she practiced in the litigation department of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP (2003-05) in New York. Her practice there centered on employment litigation, general litigation, and internal investigations. From 2002-03, Professor Waldman clerked for the Honorable William G. Young, United States District Judge for the District of Massachusetts. She is currently the Vice-Chair of the AALS Section on Education Law, and teaches classes in Education Law, Employment Law, Civil Procedure, and Constitutional Law.


Caroline J. Heller is a shareholder in the Litigation Practice of Greenberg Traurig, LLP’s New York office. Caroline is also the Chair of Greenberg Traurig Global Pro Bono Program.  Caroline is a faculty member of Greenberg Traurig’s GT Litigation Academy, which provides intensive in-house training programs in jury trials, expert witness preparation, deposition practice, motion practice, and mediation. Caroline focuses her practice on complex commercial litigation and business disputes on a nationwide basis in the fields of professional liability, partnership disputes, securities litigation and entertainment disputes. In the field of special education, since 2006, Caroline has represented parents of children with disabilities on a pro bono basis at impartial hearings, appeals to the SRO, and in federal court.  She received her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and her J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law.

Areas of Concentration: Business and commercial litigation; Securities litigation; Appellate advocacy

Professional & Community Involvement: Member, New York State Bar Association; Member, Association of the Bar of the City of New York; Member, District of Columbia Bar; Member, American Bar Association; Member, Board of Directors, Advocates For Children of New York; Member, Board of Directors, Fund for Modern Courts

Awards & Recognition: 

Listed, City & State, "The Responsible 100," 2017

Recipient, New York Business Journal "Women of Influence Award," 2017

Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, New York Metro Super Lawyers, 2013-2017

Listed, “Rising Star,” 2012

Finalist, Chambers USA “Women in Law Awards,” Leadership in the Community: Lawyer of the Year, 2015

Recipient, Lawyers Who Lead By Example, Pro Bono Award, New York Law Journal, 2014

Recipient, President’s Pro Bono Award, First Judicial District, New York Bar Association, 2012

Honoree, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, recognition for pro bono services, March 2011

Recipient, Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award 2010

Honoree, Advocates for Children of New York, Inc., March 2010

Recipient, John K. Geiger Award, Her Justice (inMotion), November 2006


Deusdedi Merced is the Managing Member of Special Education Solutions, LLC (SES). Since 1997, Deusdedi’s legal career has been dedicated to special education. After a period as an attorney with the Office of Legal Services with the New York Board of Education, he spent several years representing parents of children with disabilities and their children before serving as an IDEA hearing officer, mediator, and facilitator in hundreds of matters. He was appointed to serve as Chief Hearing Officer for the District of Columbia for approximately three years and played a key role in assisting the District in being released from court supervision.

Deusdedi has presented training programs for hearing officers/Administrative Law Judges at LRP’s National Institute on Legal Issues of Educating Individuals with Disabilities, LRP’s School Attorneys Conference, the Academy for IDEA Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers, as well as the Lehigh Special Education Law Symposium: ALJ/IHO Institute. He has also presented numerous individualized training programs for various state educational agencies and is currently under contract on a long-term basis with the states of New York, Illinois, and Hawaii.

As a result of his broad experience in special education litigation, training, and oversight, Mr. Merced has a deep appreciation for the unique perspectives of school districts, parents, and hearing officers. Mr. Merced has first-hand knowledge of the challenges hearing officers face in presiding over due process hearings. His extensive knowledge and experience have made Mr. Merced a sought-after speaker at nationally recognized conferences on special education. He has been a featured speaker at LRP’s National Institute on Legal Issues of Educating Individuals with Disabilities, LRP’s School Attorneys Conference, as well the Academy for IDEA Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers at Duke Law School and Seattle University School of Law.


Jesse Cole Cutler’s practice focuses on advocating, mediating and litigating on behalf of children with special education needs. He has significant experience litigating every aspect of administrative hearings under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Jesse also has extensive appellate experience in federal appellate courts. He currently supervises and manages the litigation and resolution of tuition reimbursement claims and heads his firm’s appellate division.

Jesse is a member of the American Bar Association; the New York State Bar Association; the Association of The Bar Of The City Of New York; the American Trial Lawyers Association; the Education Law Association; the Council of Parents Attorneys and Advocates, and the Federal Bar Council.

Jesse received his JD from Brooklyn Law School and graduated cum laude from the University of Albany, SUNY. 

Jesse regularly lectures on special education policies, procedures and litigation strategies to parent and attorney groups.  He has published decisions on the federal and state level.

Jesse lives in Brooklyn Heights with his wife, an editor and author of children’s books, and his two sons.


Professional Experience

Together with other members and associates in the firm, Ralph DeMarco represents public school districts as General Counsel, Labor Counsel and Special Education Counsel in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Nassau Counties, NY. He handles school litigation matters in state and federal courts, appeals to the Commissioner of Education, impartial special education hearings under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Education Law, employee disciplinary proceedings pursuant to the Education Law and Civil Service Law and discrimination and/or retaliation claims before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner and State Division of Human Rights.

Mr. DeMarco joined Keane & Beane in 2010 with many years of experience in representing school districts.

Admissions

  • State and Federal Courts of New York

Professional Activities/Publications


Mr. DeMarco is a frequent lecturer at in-service training workshop on a variety of legal topics to public school district clients.

Education

  • 1993, J.D., St. John's University School of Law
  • 1990, B.A., Niagara University


William Meyer has represented the families of students with disabilities in educational matters since 2004. He has represented New York families for the past ten years, formerly as a staff attorney at Advocates for Children of New York and since 2012 as an associate at the Law Offices of Regina Skyer and Associates, L.L.P.. Will practices in administrative and appellate arenas on behalf of parents, and has provided trainings and instruction on special education advocacy to parents, attorneys, educators, and clinical professionals.

Will is a member of the American Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, and the Council of Parents Attorneys and Advocates. He holds a law degree from the Washington College of Law at American University and a Bachelor of Science from Emerson College. Will also serves as a Small Claims Arbitrator in the Civil Court of the City of New York, Kings County. Will lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.


The Law Office of Elisa Hyman, P.C. (the “LOEH”) is a private, public interest law firm providing representation in education law, disability discrimination and civil rights cases involving public education. With more than ten attorneys, the LOEH offers families who cannot otherwise afford education legal services free consultations, no-cost-up front and pro bono legal services.   Since 1998, Ms. Hyman has been representing individual parents and students in impartial hearings, administrative appeals, federal civil actions, as well as class actions and impact litigation.  In 2007, Ms. Hyman became Of Counsel to Friedman & Moses, LLP where she founded the Special Education Law Group. Between 1998 and 2007, Ms. Hyman spent eight years at Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), first as the organization's Deputy Director (1998-2006) and then as the Executive Director (2006-2007). Before joining AFC, Ms. Hyman was Assistant General Counsel at Safe Horizon, where she focused on domestic violence and crime victim policy. Prior to starting a public interest law career, Ms. Hyman was a litigation associate at White & Case (1991-1996).  Ms. Hyman has her J.D. from Duke Law School and a M.A. in Economics from Duke University.  


Selene Almazan has represented students and families for nearly 30 years. 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. For nearly 23 years, Selene represented parents in special education matters with a primary focus on least restrictive environment (LRE) issues at the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education. 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 works on federal and local policy issues. In this position she writes appellate amicus briefs for appellate courts as well as the United States Supreme Court. Selene was counsel of record for COPAA as an amicus in Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools and counsel on COPAA’s amicus brief in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. Since May 2015 Selene maintains a private practice focusing on parent and student representation in special education matters, including LRE. 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. 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.