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California Special Education Law 2019

Speaker(s): Cynthia A. Landes, David M. Grey, Deborah R. Jacobson, Devon Rios, Edward S. Miguel, Elizabeth F. Eubanks, LaJoyce L. Porter, Ramaah Sadasivam
Recorded on: Oct. 2, 2019
PLI Program #: 248874

For over 10 years, Devon Rios has been a staunch child advocate with the passion and experience necessary to guide families at all stages of special education advocacy.

After receiving her undergraduate degree in Sociology from UCLA, Magna Cum Laude with departmental honors, Devon attended the UCLA School of Law. Shortly thereafter, she began her legal career as a prestigious Munger, Tolles & Olson Equal Justice Works Fellow, providing representation to families seeking access to early education intervention for their children. Through this fellowship, Devon founded the East Los Angeles 3-7 Project, laying the groundwork for intensive parent special education advocacy trainings still operating in East Los Angeles today under the auspice of the TIGER Program at Learning Rights Law Center. Immediately after, Devon continued her service at the Learning Rights Law Center as a community empowerment and advocacy program Director continuing her passion to serve special needs families.

Devon’s special education law expertise is matched by her experience in civil litigation, where she has represented clients in litigation matters focusing on complex insurance benefit recovery for public agencies. With this background, Devon possesses the sensitivity necessary to preserve and protect valued relationships with your special needs students’ circle of support coupled with the experience and ability to strategize and execute a litigation path if necessary.

Outside of her special education law practice, Devon is the Board Chair for Via Care Community Health Clinic in East Los Angeles. Via Care provides critical free outpatient health services to uninsured families. Devon also served as a community-elected advisory board member for the Best Start East Los Angeles Initiative.

She has served as a guest lecturer at California State University of Los Angeles in the area of community resource management and for the UCLA School of Law’s first year public interest students Lawyering Skills seminar. She is a frequent panelist and speaker on the topic of law school admissions for underrepresented students, special education advocacy and issues of juvenile justice and race.

David M. Grey, Esq. is a partner with the law firm of Grey & Grey in Santa Monica.  David is an experienced special education attorney who has successfully handled a lot of due process hearings and appeals in state and federal court.  He has experience with a broad range of special education matters. A significant number of his cases involve people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing or those who are in danger of being seriously hurt if not properly served by the school. David has a growing interest in using civil rights laws to obtain injunctive relief and damages beyond what is provided for under IDEA.

Prior to his special education practice, David focused on employment and real estate disputes, where he had many jury trials, arbitrations and administrative hearings.  He is a cum laude graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University and received his law degree from Hofstra University in New York. David has lectured and written extensively on a variety of legal topics. Most recently, he was successful in convincing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse summary judgment against two of his clients in K.M. ex rel. Bright v. Tustin Unified School District, 725 F.3d 1088 (9th Cir. 2013), cert. denied, 134 S. Ct. 1493, cert. denied sub nom. Poway Unified Sch. Dist. v. D.H. ex rel. K.H., 134 S. Ct. 1494 (2014). The Ninth Circuit made clear that compliance with IDEA does not foreclose rights available under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Cynthia A. Landes, M.P.H., M.A., E.T./P. has an interdisciplinary background in women and children’s health, education, advocacy and child development.

Ms. Landes currently works as a bilingual educational therapist and special education advocate at the Kaiser Permanente Watts Counseling and Learning Center. As an advocate, Ms. Landes assists parents to understand and exercise their rights under federal and state special education guidelines. She works with parents individually, attends special education meetings, facilitates monthly parent support groups and teaches a year-long course for low-income parents of children with special needs.
As an educational therapist, Ms. Landes has provided one-on-one intensive educational interventions, advocacy services, school placement recommendations and other educationally related services for children and adults with learning difficulties and learning disabilities.

In addition to her work as an educational therapist and advocate, Ms. Landes also trains early childhood professionals (teachers, Early Head Start/Head Start personnel, paraprofessionals, social workers, public health nurses, physicians, etc.) how to: utilize high-quality, evidence-based developmental screening tools; conduct effective observations of young children; and implement limit setting and positive discipline strategies.

Ms. Landes attended the University of California, Los Angeles and received an M.P.H. (Epidemiology) and an M.A. (Latino/Latin American Studies). Subsequent to her graduate work at UCLA, Ms. Landes completed three post-graduate certificates: Educational Therapy (California State University, Northridge); Infant Mental Health (the Early Childhood Foundation at Cedars- Sinai Medical Center); and, Special Education Advocacy (University of Southern California/ Children’s Hospital Los Angeles/Learning Rights Law Center).

Deborah is a special education attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area currently representing families and students against school districts throughout Northern California. She is extremely passionate about her work and the rights of children with disabilities. Deborah is an active member of the educational community and works with parents, service providers and local organizations to support the needs of vulnerable youth.

Deborah has spent her entire legal career working on behalf of children with disabilities. As a law student, she worked as a legal intern and special education advocate for Disability Rights California and Bay Area Legal Aid. As a first year attorney, Deborah became the managing associate at a special education law firm in the District of Columbia where she represented dozens of low-income families and children in special education cases. Prior to relocating back to the Bay Area, Deborah co-founded The School Justice Project, a legal services and advocacy organization serving older students with special education needs who are involved in Washington DC’s justice system. In 2013, Deborah founded Jacobson Education Law in Berkeley, California. JEL’s mission is solely dedicated to helping families with children with disabilities in individual and systemic cases. In addition to her private practice, Deborah has worked as both co-counsel and a contract attorney for Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund on special education cases seeking systemic relief for students and families.

Deborah has effectively and compassionately represented hundreds of clients in special education matters. She is a frequent presenter at state and national conferences, and provides trainings to local advocacy and parent groups.

Dr. Edward Miguel, MA, EdD, BCBA, has dedicated his career to serving students and individuals with disabilities. He has worked in domestic violence shelters, residential treatment centers, group homes, and non-public schools. Currently, he serves as the President and CEO of Port View Preparatory Schools, overseeing two campuses in Orange and San Bernardino Counties. In addition to running one of the best non-public schools in the country, Dr. Miguel spends his time advocating for students with special needs, including pursuing changes at the governmental level. Dr. Miguel faced disabilities as a child after a childhood illness but recovered with the help of dedicated professionals in this field, motivating him to dedicate his life to this work.

Elizabeth received her Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine University School of Law and a Certificate in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. After graduation, Elizabeth worked in private practice, advocating for parents of children with disabilities in regional center, school district, and health insurance matters. From 2012 to 2018 she was the Inland Empire Regional Director at Disability Rights Legal Center. As Regional Director, Elizabeth was responsible for special education advocacy and civil rights litigation within San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, specializing in disability discrimination cases. 

Elizabeth is an adjunct professor at the University of La Verne College of Law. She is the Director of the Law School’s Disability Rights Clinic and she teaches coursework in special education and disability rights law.

Elizabeth has presented seminars at national conferences, including at the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates and the American Bar Association. She has been the co-chair of Practising Law Institute’s annual Special Education Law Conference since 2012. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Autism Society, Inland Empire. 

LaJoyce L. Porter is a sole practitioner in Walnut Creek, CA. Her practice area consists of all aspects of education law, including but not limited to, special education, suspensions and expulsions, bullying and harassment, private schools, 504 and ADA issues and college litigation. She has been in private practice for thirteen years.

Prior to that, Ms. Porter worked at several Bay Area law firms where she practiced workers' compensation, insurance defense, and civil litigation. She represented insurers, third party administrators and self-insured employers in workers' compensation cases, subrogation and civil litigation throughout the Bay Area. Many of her clients were Fortune 500 corporations. She has represented corporations such as Microsoft, UPS, Costco and various NFL teams.

Ms Porter has two daughters who have special needs which is what prompted her transition into education law. She now represents Bay Area parents of children with learning disabilities and sues school districts to obtain a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for their special needs children. She also represents parents in all types of school litigation. Her oldest daughter graduated from high school and was accepted to all four of the state colleges where she applied. She attended Cal State East Bay where Ms. Porter assisted her in getting accommodations from CSUEB. She now works at Amazon. Her youngest daughter, who has an Asperger diagnosis lives independently in North Hollywood where she is taking acting classes.

Ms. Porter graduated from University of San Francisco with a B.A. in Communications. She obtained her Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC. She enjoys traveling, watching Hallmark movies, spending time with her daughters and her two rescue dogs, Daisy and Prince Harry.

Ms. Porter is also a member of the Women Lawyers of Alameda County, Black Women Lawyers of Northern California and the Charles Houston Bar Association. She travels throughout the Bay Area speaking on education issues.

Ramaah began her legal career as a litigation associate at a large regional law firm in Sacramento, where she worked on a broad range of civil cases in federal and state trial and appellate courts within California. However, she was inspired to take her career in a different direction after her child was diagnosed with a disability shortly after birth. As a parent of a child with a disability, Ramaah experienced the same challenges many parents of children with disabilities face when advocating for an appropriate education for their children. As Ramaah became more involved in her local community of parents of children with disabilities, she quickly realized that she could use her legal training to advocate for children with disabilities and their parents. Ramaah spent over two years working on individual and systemic special education cases at Disability Rights California and Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. In 2017, Ramaah joined Jacobson Education Law as Of Counsel.

Outside of her private practice, Ramaah is a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law and an associate member of the Edward J. McFetridge American Inn of Court.

Ramaah received her undergraduate degree in History from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with departmental honors and a Masters of Arts in Sociology from Tulane University.