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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.

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The American Rescue Plan Act’s Aid Allocations to State, Local Governments, and Schools

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) which provides for a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package. State and local governments, and also many educational entities, will receive substantial funding. Having endured the last year of the global COVID-19 pandemic, both states and local governments, as well as schools, have experienced unexpected expenses, losses in revenues, and budgetary burdens. The purpose of this Client Alert is to explain generally how funds from the ARPA relief aid have been designated to alleviate those COVID-19-related challenges.

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