Neag School Holds Special Education Summit in Hartford

Panel at Special Ed Summit
WNPR’s David DesRoches, right, moderates a panel discussion about equitable service delivery at the Special Education Summit in Hartford this May. Panelists included Mary Beth Bruder of the UConn Center on Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (far left) and Marisa Halm of the Center for Children’s Advocacy (center). (Photo Credit: Nathan Oldham/Neag School)

In the wake of this past fall’s landmark Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell court ruling, UConn’s Neag School of Education brought together individuals from across the state of Connecticut for a daylong summit dedicated to exploring special education issues.

Held this past Friday at the UConn School of Law campus in Hartford, Conn., the Special Education in Connecticut Summit drew more than 160 attendees, including a mix of special education directors, school administrators, attorneys, parents of children with special needs, teachers, and university faculty, among others.

The event featured four panel discussions focused on innovative and equitable service delivery models and funding methods for special education. Panelists included a range of expert witnesses, school administrators, faculty members, and attorneys from Connecticut and beyond, with WNPR’s Diane Orson and David DesRoches serving as panel moderators.

“Today presents an opportunity to discuss
ideas that can improve services for Connecticut’s children and their families.”
— Joseph Madaus, Neag School Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

The CCJEF v. Rell ruling, handed down in Connecticut Superior Court this past September, is currently under appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court. According to Joseph Madaus, Neag School associate dean for academic affairs and the summit’s emcee, the September ruling raised critically important points related to special education, including issues related to identification, equitable funding, and equitable service delivery.

“One of our key themes and aims today is to share ideas for moving forward,” Madaus said during his opening remarks at the event. “We know many of the issues, and what hasn’t worked well in the past. Today presents an opportunity to discuss ideas that can improve services for Connecticut’s children and their families.”

Howard Klebanoff
Thanks to support from UConn School of Law alumnus Howard Klebanoff (pictured) and the Klebanoff Institute, the Special Education Summit was held free of charge to all attendees. (Photo Credit: Nathan Oldham/Neag School)

Thanks to support from the Klebanoff Institute, the event was held free of charge to all attendees. The Institute was established at UConn in 1997 in honor of Howard Klebanoff, a UConn School of Law alum “widely known … as one of Connecticut’s most distinguished attorneys specializing in special education law,” according to Madaus.

The longtime motto of the Institute, Klebanoff said, has been: “Of all of nature’s gifts, the most precious is a child.” Klebanoff in fact became directly involved in special education law after one of his own children suffered brain damage following a physical illness.

“What I really loved was how the recent U.S. Supreme Court slammed the judge’s opinion about certain types of children,” Klebanoff said. “I think that U.S. Supreme Court court case is certainly a key case in going forward — but again, it doesn’t deal with the issue of funding, which is so critical.”

Missed the event?

Special Education Summit Audience Q&A
Panelists invited questions from the audience during the four panel discussions held at the Neag School’s Special Education Summit last week. (Photo Credit: Nathan Oldham/Neag School)

Read event coverage:

View photos from the event on the Neag School Facebook page.

Follow the conversation on Twitter at #SpedSummit.

Learn more about the summit, including all co-hosts,  panelists, and moderators, at s.uconn.edu/summitinfo.