Partner at Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP Presents at the MCLE Key Issues in Special Education Law Conference



On December 3, 2020 the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, or MCLE, held their “Key Issues in Special Education Law” conference. This conference provided crucial updates for school law practice. The subjects discussed included a BSEA (Bureau of Special Education Appeals) update with key statistics and rule changes, a key decisions update, and three different panels. The first panel focused on the COVID-19 impact, and included details on compensatory services. The second panel discussed the 2020 election implications, and the final panel was an “Ask the Experts” question and answer session, ending with the key takeaways.


Ms. Sowydra, a partner at Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP, was on the panel discussing the COVID-19 impact. During this, the panel described the relief one can request as a result of COVID-19; the options of kids who have higher needs, specifically referencing remote versus in person learning, and support during remote learning, obligations for in person home instruction for kids that have been sent home, and the impact on kids who are living out of the district were all topics the panel discussed.


Mary Ellen Sowyrda is a partner in the firm and heads the Special Education Department within Murphy, Hesse, Toomey and Lehane, LLP. The firm currently represents more than 125 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.

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