Webinar Archive: Discipline and Students with Disabilities:
Key Concepts and Strategies for Advocates

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Conducted March 19, 2009

ABOUT THE WEBINAR:
According to school district-reported data, students with disabilities are disproportionately suspended and expelled compared to their non-disabled peers. In some districts, students with disabilities are 2 to 3 times more likely to be subject to discipline than students without disabilities. At the same time, students with disabilities have significant protections under the IDEA which can prevent or minimize their exclusion from school and, if properly enforced, can provide students with disabilities with the support they need to be successful. This Webinar reviews the basic key concepts of discipline law related to students with disabilities and delve into the more complex provisions in the federal law. Case examples are provided to illustrate the complexities and to suggest possible strategies for handling those cases. Strategies for advocates, attorneys, parents and school staff are discussed in order to more effectively manage disciplinary incidents when they occur and to put services in place to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.

Catherine

ABOUT THE PRESENTER:
Catherine A. Holahan, Esq., is an attorney with Connecticut Legal Services, Inc. In this position, she advocates through individual legal representation and systemic advocacy on behalf of low-income families with children with disabilities to gain access to special education and behavioral health services. Her experience includes representing individual clients in state and federal court, expulsion hearings, special education due process hearings, mediations and complaints, and systemic advocacy through legislative advocacy, class litigation, outreach and education. Attorney Holahan developed the CLS Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline Project in Waterbury which focuses on providing civil legal representation to students with disabilities who are subject to school-based arrests or court referrals and school discipline for disability-related behavior.

Attorney Holahan received a J.D. with honors from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2001 and an M.S.W. in Policy and Planning from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work in 2000. She earned a B.A. from the University of Vermont in 1994. Attorney Holahan is admitted to the Connecticut State Bar, the Federal District of Connecticut and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. She is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association Education and Federal Practice Sections. Prior to joining CLS, Attorney Holahan served as a law clerk in the Connecticut Appellate Court to the Honorable Ellen Ash Peters, Chief Justice Retired.


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