Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP Attorneys Present on Fundamental Examination and Review of Education Law
The Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) presented a School Law: MCLE BasicsPlus! Seminar titled “Fundamental Examination and Review of Education Law”. Mary Ellen Sowyrda, a Partner, and Felicia Vasudevan, both from MHTL, were speakers at the seminar. This two-day seminar discussed and examined the important details of education law. There were several experienced attorneys present to teach about statutes, federal and state cases, privacy and confidentiality problems, and a look at student conduct issues such as bullying and discrimination.
Daniel W. Ahearn, Esq., began the first day of the seminar with introductions and was followed by “School Law: Key Statues & Regulations” presented by Rhoda E. Schneider, Esq., then Mary Ellen Sowyrda, Esq. of MHTL presented “Special Education Law” with Daniel T.S. Heffernan, Esq. and Mr. Ahearn. She also presented the next session, “School Law: 504/ADA” with Mr. Ahearn. The second day of the seminar began with Mr. Ahearn wrapping up the segment on 504/ADA, followed by Ms. Sowyrda’s presentation on “School Law: Privacy & Confidentiality”, then she was joined by Ashley Francisque, Esq., for “School Law: Student Conduct”. The next session revolves around Title IX, and was presented by Mr. Ahearn, Michele Gershman Scavongelli, Ms. Sowyrda and her MHTL colleague, Felicia S. Vasudevan, Esq. The final session of the seminar was presented by Ms. Scavongelli, Mr. Heffernan and Mr. Ahearn, where they discussed “COVID-19 Issues and Implications in School Law”.
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.
Ms. Vasudevan is an attorney in the firm’s Education Law and Special Education Law Groups, working in regular and special education issues. She represents school districts in all aspects of special education litigation, from administrative hearings at the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) through to all levels of judicial appeal. Ms. Vasudevan received her Bachelor’s Degree from Stanford University, with a major in Public Policy. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School and a Master of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Prior to law school, she taught high school mathematics for two years in San Jose, California, as part of Teach for America, and trained the incoming Teach for America Corps Members at Teach for America’s Summer Institute.
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On August 12, 2022, Governor Charlie Baker signed S. 3096, “An act relative to equity in the cannabis industry,” (“Act”) into law. The Act reforms Massachusetts’s existing marijuana laws, particularly with respect to host community agreements (“HCAs”), community impact fees (“CIFs”), and social consumption sites (e.g. marijuana cafes). The Act empowers the Cannabis Control Commission (“Commission”), the state regulatory agency, to exert greater control over HCAs and their CIFs. Municipalities levy CIFs on cannabis businesses to account for the costs they impose on the municipality as a result of their operations. Additionally, the Act allows municipalities to permit on-premises social consumption of marijuana at designated sites. Other notable provisions of the Act include the new Social Equity Trust Fund (“Trust Fund”), changes to the tax law regarding cannabis businesses, and various provisions concerning those persons and communities most impacted by the prior illegality of marijuana usage and sale. Governor Baker vetoed only one section of the final bill: the provision calling on the state to conduct a study of medical marijuana usage in schools.