News

Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP Partner Receives Favorable Decision for Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District

 

Mary Ellen Sowyrda, a Partner at Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP, represented the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District (“District”) before a Hearing Officer of the Bureau of Special Education (“BSEA”). The District filed a Hearing Request for substitute consent to allow the District to perform a three-year evaluation of a student. If a parent of a student refuses to provide consent for school-based testing voluntarily, districts can proceed to a hearing to obtain and order upholding their right to test the student. In this case, the parents and their counsel introduced various extraneous arguments in hopes of defeating the District’s request. After two days of oral testimony and argument, the Parties were granted an extension for submission of their written closing arguments, to be submitted to the Hearing Officer for review. Once the closing arguments were reviewed, the Parties were informed that the parents and their counsel’s claims were found to be without merit by the Hearing Officer, therefore the District’s request for substitute consent was granted.

 

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 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. 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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