An Attorney’s Guide to Legal Obligations of Schools Educating Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Parent Rights (Updated 2021)


CLE credits earned: 5 General Credit, 1 Ethics Credit (WA 5 Law and Legal, 1 Ethics Credit)

Nationally recognized education and school attorneys will provide a hands-on legal guide as they walk you through legal best practices for educating students on the autism spectrum.  Beginning with an overview of the diagnostic criteria and education eligibility for IEPs and 504 Plans for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (“ASD”), the faculty will discuss and meet the educational needs of students across the spectrum, including during COVID, and disputes that arise and how to resolve with minimal conflict and reaching across the aisle.  Through a discussion of recent case law, you will gain a better understanding of the legal obligations of schools and the legal rights of the students and their parents/legal guardians.  Learn how to handle special education legal issues with confidence for this unique population of students.

This course is co-sponsored with myLawCLE.

Key topics to be discussed:

•  Defining autism – medical and educational definitions
•  Laws impacting students with autism
•  IEPs, 504 Plans
•  Discipline and MDRs, FBAs and BIPs
•  Avoiding and resolving disputes between schools and families
• Recent case law

Date / Time: March 11, 2021

•  11:00 am – 5:50 pm Eastern
•  10:00 am – 4:50 pm Central
•  9:00 am – 3:50 pm Mountain
•  8:00 am – 2:50 pm Pacific

Choose a format:

•   Live Video Broadcast/Re-Broadcast: Watch Program “live” in real-time, must sign-in and watch program on date and time set above. May ask questions during presentation via chat box. Qualifies for “live” CLE credit.
•   On-Demand Video: Access CLE 24/7 via on-demand library and watch program anytime. Qualifies for self-study CLE credit. On-demand versions are made available 5 business days after the original recording date and are view-able for up to one year.
Closed-captioning available upon request

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Choose the format you want.


Original Broadcast Date: March 11, 2021

Hope N. Kirsch, M.A. (Ed.), Esq.

Hope Kirsch is a partner with the education law firm of Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch, PLLC, in Scottsdale, Arizona, founded in 2006.  She is a licensed special education teacher and 25+ year attorney.  She practices special education law with her sister, Lori Kirsch-Goodwin, at Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch, PLLC, representing K-12 and higher education students throughout Arizona in school-related matters including advocacy, Due Process, 504s, OCR, discipline and bullying.  Hope was a special education teacher and coordinator in the New York City public schools for 18 years where she worked with the most challenging populations and super-vised and trained teachers in teaching strategies, curriculum development, writing IEPs and behavior management.  She has a Bachelor’s degree in special education from Boston University, a Master’s degree in special education from NYU, 30+ post-graduate credits in educational supervision and ad-ministration, and her law degree from Brooklyn Law School.   She is admitted to the state and federal district courts in New York, New Jersey, Arizona and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  She is AV® Preeminent rated and serves as a Judge Pro Tem for the Superior Court of Arizona. 

Lori Kirsch-Goodwin, Esq.

Lori Kirsch-Goodwin is a founder and partner with the firm Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch, PLLC, in Scottsdale, Arizona.  She is a 30+ year litigation attorney whose practice is devoted to education and special education matters on behalf of students and their families.  Lori has a Bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and her law degree from Bridgeport (now Quinnipiac) University.  Lori began advocating for students with disabilities when one of her twin sons, now 24 years old, was found in need of special education in Kindergarten.  Lori is regularly involved in eligibility and IEP meetings, MDRs, disciplinary due process hearings, OCR, IDEA Due Process, and DDD appeals.  She is admitted to practice in the state and federal courts in New York, New Jersey, Arizona and the 9th Circuit, and is AV-rated.  Lori prevailed in a case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that involved appropriateness of a school’s selection of location of a school for a student on the spectrum. She is an AV® Preeminent rated attorney.

Heather R. Pierson, Esq.

Heather Pierson is a partner at the law firm Udall Shumway PLC in Mesa, AZ.  She is a member of the firm’s School Law section, representing the firm’s education law clients throughout the State.  Ms. Pierson comes to Udall Shumway PLC uniquely qualified in the area of education law.  Prior to joining Udall Shumway, Ms. Pierson taught behavior disordered students.  During her teaching career, Ms. Pierson was involved in the development and implementation of Individualized Education Plans (“IEP”) and behavior plans and attended several trainings on special education and regular education interventions and strategies. While in law school, Ms. Pierson provided in-home ABA services for autistic children under the age of three and participated in the Whittier Law School Special Education Clinic, which provided special education advocacy services for children with developmental disabilities. Additionally, Ms. Pierson earned her Master’s Degree in Special Education in 2004.  Ms. Pierson primarily focuses her practice on special education and disability related matters. She routinely defends school districts and other public educational institutions in matters related to disability law matters, such as special education due process hearings, Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) complaints, Section 504 due process hearings, mediation, and special education state complaints. She provides daily advice and assistance in matters related to special education, Section 504, the Americans with Disabilities Act, student discipline, personnel issues and student records. Ms. Pierson taught Contemporary Developments in Special Education Law through Northern Arizona University during the Spring of 2014. She has also given in-service workshops to district personnel on a wide range of special education and disability related topics and speaks at state-wide conferences.

Jessica S. Sanchez, Esq.

Jessica Sanchez is a partner with the firm Udall Shumway PLC in Mesa, Arizona.  Ms. Sanchez focuses her practice primarily in the area of education law, representing school districts and charter schools throughout the State. In addition to her time at Udall Shumway PLC, Ms. Sanchez has also served as in-house legal counsel for the Scottsdale Unified School District and the General Counsel for the three Tempe School Districts (Tempe Union High School District, Tempe Elementary School District and Kyrene Elementary School District).  Ms. Sanchez has experience providing legal advice and representation on a broad range of matters including, but not limited to, special education, student discipline, employment matters, Open Meeting Law, public records, policy review, and governing board liability issues. Ms. Sanchez has conducted many in-service training programs and has presented a variety of seminars for the National Business Institute, MEDS-PDN, and the Arizona School Boards Association.

Lori Bird, Esq.

Lori Bird is currently the Chief of Dispute Resolution for the Arizona Department of Education’s Dispute Resolution Unit.  Prior to accepting this position, she was a solo law practitioner for 15 years representing parents in special education matters as well as other disability related issues.  Lori believes the key to resolving special education disputes and serving students well is communication and creativity.  She has lived in Arizona for the last 25 years, although you will detect a hint of Boston in her accent.  When living in Massachusetts, Lori worked for a defense firm practicing in the area of medical malpractice.  Additionally, Lori has experience working as a staff attorney at the Arizona Federal District Court as a capital case attorney and law clerk and at the Arizona Court of Appeals as a criminal staff attorney. Lori is married and has three grown children and now spoils the dog since they have all flown the nest. 

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1. What is autism?  Medical diagnosis of autism vs. educational eligibility 11:00-11:45
2. Laws impacting students with autism 11L45-12:30
3. Educating students with autism during COVID 12:30-1:15
4. Essential features of IEPs, 504 Plans, FBAs and BIPs for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder 1:15-2:00
5. Disciplining students with autism and conducting MDRs 2:00-2:45
6. Areas of disputes and dispute resolution 2:45-3:20
7. Recent case law discussing and impacting students with autism 3:20-4:50
8. How the Model Rules of Professional Conduct apply to education and school attorneys, Ethical Rules 4:50-5:50
-a. Competence.
-b. Scope of Representation and Allocation of Authority between Client and Lawyer.
-c. Communication.
-d. Fees.
-e. Confidentiality of Information.
-f. Conflict of Interest: Current Clients.
-g. 1.9. Duties to Former Clients.
-h. 1.13. Organization as Client.
-i. 1.14. Client with Diminished Capacity.
-j. 1.16. Declining or Terminating Representation.
-k. 2.1 Advisor
-l. 4.3. Dealing with Unrepresented Person.
-m. 5.5. Unauthorized Practice of Law