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Meet the Advocates

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Asking Questions: a good strategy for identifying win-win solutions. Everyday, people just like you, have questions.

On this page, you'll meet the advocates who answer your questions, offer ideas, and make suggestions in articles for parents and teachers who want to learn how to negotiate the maze of special education.


Susan Bruce -  "Parents Leading the Way "

Susan BruceSusan’s most relevant experience is as the mother of four, three of which are students with disabilities. Susan was a ten year parent advocate and trainer with South Carolina’s former Parent Training and Information Center, PRO*Parents of SC and has trained thousands of parents, attorneys and advocates on virtually any topic that has to do with special education and civil rights law.

Susan has trained under some the nation’s leading advocates and attorneys, such as Chris Ziegler Dendy, Rick Lavoie, Matt Cohen and Pete Wright of www.wrightslaw.com.

She has been published by Wrightslaw, NICHCY and Education Week. Her articles appear in PTI newsletters all over the country. Susan has also conducted CLE trainings on the IDEA for new attorneys in collaboration with Appleseed Legal Justice Center.

A Board Member of COPAA and trainer at the COPAA National Convention. She has a certificate from the William and Mary School of Law Institute of Special Education Advocacy and holds certificates in non-profit management from Duke and Winthrop University. However, Susan believes that her expertise actually lies in a specialized field that in all actuality can only be obtained by hands on experience and is not taught in any university setting.

 Susan's Answers...


Debbie Larson - "Each One - Teach One"

Debbie LarsonWhen the youngest of Debbie's 3 children had his first language evaluation at age 2, she couldn't understand the eval reports. Once she understood the reports, she didn't agree with them. Debbie knew she needed to learn her son's rights and her rights. Her advocacy started here.

She connected with her state PTIC, took lay advocacy training, and served many families as a volunteer.

Later she became the PTIC Regional Training Coordinator for 15 counties in central/western New York. Debbie served as a direct advocate for parents and as a trainer for parents and professionals.

Debbie is currently doing private practice advocacy for families.

Debbie's Answers...   


Pat Howey - "Changing the World - One Child at at Time"

Indiana Advocate Pat HoweyPat is an advocate who has worked with families since 1986, helping parents resolve special education disputes with their school districts.

Pat has a degree in paralegal studies.She is an active member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) received the Learning Disabilities Association of Indiana (LDA-IN) Outstanding Service Award for her commitment and compassion towards students with disabilities.

Pat is on the faculty of ISEA, the William and Mary School of Law Institute of Special Education Advocacy.

Pat is also a member of the Wrightslaw Speakers Bureau who presents From Emotions to Advocacy programs. In these programs, parents learn how to assess their children's strengths and weaknesses, build healthy working relationships with school personnel, about the "gentle art of disagreeing," and how to participate as equal members of the IEP team.
Pat writes articles for Wrightslaw in Ask the Advocate.

Pat's Answers...


Sue Whitney - "Do Your Homework"

Sue WhitneySue Whitney of Manchester, New Hampshire, is the research editor for Wrightslaw.

Sue is the co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (ISBN: 1-978-892320-12-4) that is published by Harbor House Law Press.

In Doing Your Homework, she writes about reading, research based instruction, No Child Left Behind, and creative strategies for using federal education standards to advocate for children and to improve public schools. Her articles have been reprinted by SchwabLearning.org, EducationNews.org, Bridges4Kids.org, The Beacon: Journal of Special Education Law and Practice, the Schafer Autism Report, and have been used in CLE presentations to attorneys. More about Sue Whitney.

Sue has served on New Hampshire's Special Education State Advisory Committee on the Education of Students/Children with Disabilities (SAC) and has been a volunteer educational surrogate parent.

Sue is a graduate of ISEA, the William and Mary School of Law Institute of Special Education Advocacy. She currently works with families as a special education advocate.

Sue's Answers...


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Revised: 08/25/15
Created: 04/27/11

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