Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP Partner Presents for the Vocational Association of Special Education Directors
Mary Ellen Sowyrda, a partner at Murphy, Hesse, Toomey and Lehane presented to the Vocational Association of Special Education Directors. Ms. Sowyrda’s long career within special education, as well as being head of the firm’s Special Education Department, provided her with a high level of experience for this presentation. Her speech, titled “COVID-19 and Special Education Issues”, focused on resuming school and the factors that teachers’ and students’ will need to consider. Some of the factors she talked about included the status of the virus in Massachusetts, parents’ willingness to return their children to in-person learning, and the willingness of the school’s staff regarding flexibility for remote learning. She also discussed the in-person considerations, MASC policy on face coverings, remote instruction considerations, and more. Throughout her presentation, Ms. Sowyrda provides many considerations that anyone in any education field would find useful.
Ms. Sowyrda is a partner in the firm and heads the Special Education Department within Murphy, Hesse, Toomey and Lehane, LLP. The firm currently represents approximately 160 school districts and educational collaboratives in the practice area of Special Education Law. She is involved in all aspects of litigation and alternative dispute resolution at the Bureau of Special Education Appeals, including representing clients at hearings, settlement conferences, pre-hearing conferences and mediations. She provides clients with daily advice on school-related legal issues including all aspects of special education, Section 504, student discipline, student records and anti-bullying laws, and deals with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and other state agencies that are associated with the provision of special education services to students. Ms. Sowyrda is a Phi Beta Kappa summa cum laude graduate of Boston College and a graduate of Boston College Law School. She is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association, and has been annually named a Super Lawyer by Boston Magazine from 2006 to the present.
Attorney Felicia Vasudevan, a partner at Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP, received a favorable decision on behalf of her client, Marshfield Public Schools. The Plaintiff appealed the district court’s judgement that upheld a decision of the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals (“BSEA”). However, as the notice was filed more than 30 days after entry, the First Circuit ultimately dismissed the appeal for being untimely. The Plaintiff also appealed the district court’s order, denying her motion to vacate. Read More
Following our Alert from March 16, 2023, Civility is Dead – The Supreme Court Rules Municipal Control of Public Speak Limited to Reasonable Time/Place/Manner Restrictions, which discussed the holding to the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Barron v. Kolenda and the Town of Southborough (SJC-13284), we promised to bring you more detailed guidance on developing a Public Speak policy for your public body or municipality. The Barron case involved a constitutional challenge to the Town of Southborough’s public comment policy, which attempted to impose a code of civility on members of the public who participated in public comment before public bodies. In Barron, the court interpreted the state constitution to mean that public bodies may request, but not require, that public commentators be respectful and courteous. Instead, a public body may set restrictions on reasonable time, place, and manner comments to ensure that the meeting retains an orderly and peaceable manner.