The William & Mary Law Institute of Special Education Advocacy

**Our program is full and we are no longer accepting applications.


The William & Mary Law Institute of Special Education Advocacy is presenting its seventh annual five-day training program hosted by William & Mary Law School and co-sponsored by the PELE Special Education Advocacy Clinic and Wrightslaw. The purpose of this program is to provide training in special education advocacy for experienced advocates, law students (credit & non credit), new attorneys, and attorneys who are new to special education law. This five-day training program will begin in Williamsburg, VA on Sunday evening, July 30, 2017 with the registration session and welcome reception and conclude on Friday afternoon, August 4, 2017. The program will include approximately 22 sessions on applicable laws, ethics, best practices in advocacy, strategies in working with parents and schools, and dispute resolution procedures, taught by national leaders in the field.

Attendance is limited to 55. Applications will be reviewed on a bi-weekly rolling basis until the class is full. Early applications are recommended.


The program will be held at:
William & Mary Law School 613 South Henry Street Williamsburg, VA 23185-4110

Tentative Agenda


  • History and Applicable Laws
  • Ethics in Special Education Advocacy (CLE credit)
  • Case Review and Analysis
  • Understanding Evaluations, Tests and Measurements
  • Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
  • Section 504
  • Eligibility
  • Behavioral Issues at School
  • Discipline
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Dispute Resolution and State Complaints
  • Preparing a Case for Trial/Due Process
  • Using Evaluations, Tests and Measurements as Evidence
  • Evidence Strategies
  • Legal Claims and Remedies
  • Creating Systemic Change in Your State
  • Bullying
  • Educational Rights of Homeless Youth
  • Transitions


The registration fee includes the opening reception, all lunches and scheduled breaks, a mid-week evening group dinner with program speakers, over $200.00 in books, and all ISEA course materials. 

Upon the conclusion of ISEA, we have traditionally issued informal certificates of participation in the Institute to attendees. This year, for the first time, we will offer the option for attendees to earn a Certificate in Special Education Advocacy from William & Mary Law School. In the past, our ISEA attendees have requested that we consider formalizing the Institute by offering a special certificate or credential so that attendees can list something more “official” on their resumes, CVs, and LinkedIn profiles. Therefore, we requested and have received approval by the College of William & Mary to offer a Certificate in Special Education Advocacy for an added fee for those who successfully complete the Institute and opt to earn the Certificate. Please note that in Virginia, there are no certification or training requirements to become a special education advocate. We encourage you to research your state’s rules and regulations on the requirements, if any, of working as a special education advocate. Please note that this course does not provide a certification or endorsement. We are simply offering a Certificate in Special Education Advocacy, which indicates that our attendees have successfully completed the required courses within the Institute of Special Education Advocacy. We expect that many ISEA graduates who earn this Certificate will list the training as an additional credential on their resumes, CVs, and LinkedIn profiles. Starting next year, we will only offer the Certificate in Special Education Advocacy track.

For those who choose the latter option, the cost of registration will be $1195 for advocates and $1395 for attorneys. Those who are wish to receive the informal certificates of participation upon completion of the program will be charged the traditional registration rates of $795 for advocates and $995 for attorneys. As noted above, beginning in 2018, only the Certificate in Special Education Advocacy track will be offered.

Registration Fees

Advocates, Educators/Advocates, Non-Attorneys


Advocates, Educators/Advocates, Non-Attorneys seeking Certificate in Special Education Advocacy from William & Mary Law School


Attorneys (CLE credit pending)


Attorneys (CLE credit pending) seeking Certificate in Special Education Advocacy from William & Mary Law School



2+ Individuals from same office

10% discount

Law Students (non-credit)


Law Students (non-credit) seeking Certificate in Special Education Advocacy from William & Mary Law School



Kayla Bower Advocacy Scholarship

In celebration of Kayla Bower’s recent retirement and her decades of remarkable advocacy on behalf of children with disabilities, the ISEA committee is pleased to award the inaugural Kayla Bower Advocacy Scholarship to one member of the 2017 ISEA class. In reviewing scholarship applications, the committee will consider: an applicant’s contributions to special education advocacy, financial need, and those representing children in underrepresented geographic areas.

To apply for the Kayla Bower Advocacy scholarship, please send a statement of interest to the committee that explains why you believe you meet one or more of the above eligibility criteria. In addition, please answer the following questions:
• Will your employer pay for your ISEA registration?
• Are you eligible to obtain outside funding for the Institute? (Please note that applicants receiving outside funding are not eligible for this scholarship.)

Please send your application by e-mail to The deadline is June 23, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. EST.

*This scholarship covers the conference registration fee. The award recipient is responsible for lodging, incidentals, and all other costs.

**Admitted attendees may also apply for this scholarship. If the scholarship recipient has already remitted payment for the registration fee, your fee will be reimbursed.

***Please note that payment for the remaining balance of your ISEA registration fee is still due within 10 days of receiving your acceptance e-mail, regardless of submission of scholarship application.

In addition, some state Planning Councils or Developmental Disabilities Councils offer scholarships or funds for participation in conferences and short-term educational programs for advocates in the field of developmental disabilities. You may want to investigate funding available in your state. Go to the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities. Click on the map for your state Council website to begin your search. (Example: Oklahoma HYPERLINK "" Consumer Involvement Fund or the Indiana Consumer Investment Fund.)

Registration for Law Students

Law students can earn one graded credit for this course.  Each law student enrolled for credit will be required to complete the ISEA application, pre-assigned work for ISEA, attend all ISEA sessions, and submit a paper no later than August 11, 2017 of no less than ten double-spaced pages to Professor Crystal Shin on a topic mutually agreed upon prior to August 4, 2017.

Student tuition and fee information is found on this page: William & Mary students may register on-line prior to July 24, 2017 or when the course is full, whichever comes first.

Law students not currently enrolled at W&M must contact Crystal Shin to apply for admission to this course.


*All registrants will receive new copies of Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition, Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments, and Wrightslaw: All About IEPs. If you already have copies with notes and wish to use your books for classwork, please do not hesitate to bring them with you.

Application Process

Attendance is limited to 55. Attendees will be selected via an application process. The application form includes all registration details, costs, applicant questionnaire, and required pre-conference assignments. Download the application.

If accepted, participants agree to complete all pre-conference assigned reading and course work, attend and participate in all sessions, and complete all homework and class assignments.

Submit your application to the Parents Engaged for Learning Equality (PELE) Clinic at William & Mary Law School with a deposit check in the amount of $250. Checks should be made out to the Marshall-Wythe School of Law Foundation or MWSLF. Please write ‘Registration for ISEA’ in the memo field.

If you are accepted, payment of the remaining registration fee must be received within ten days of notification of your acceptance in ISEA. If you are not enrolled in the course, your deposit check will be returned immediately.

Download the application.

Credits: CLE's (continuing legal education) credits and CEU's (continuing education units) are anticipated for this conference.

Questions? Please refer to this important ISEA FAQ sheet for questions you may have about the institute. We will  update this FAQ sheet regularly. Otherwise, contact the William & Mary PELE Clinic at (757) 221-5735 or

Logistics, Directions, Accommodations
Directions to William & Mary. Campus map.

Visiting Williamsburg area. Williamsburg area map. Airports
The airports closest to William & Mary Law School are Newport News - Williamsburg - PHF (approximately 20 miles), Norfolk International - ORF (approximately 45 miles) and Richmond International - RIC (approximately 45 miles).



We have secured a preferred rate of $129 at Embassy Suites in Williamsburg for our ISEA participants. Participants are responsible for making their own reservations. Participants may make reservations as follows:

1)      Call 800-284-3930 and give the reservationist the arrival and departure dates and give them group code ISE to get their preferred rate.

2)      Go to, select arrival and departure dates, click on special codes and enter ISE  the group code field, press enter and the preferred block will come up.

 ***Reservations by attendees must be received on or before 5:00pm, 06/30/2017.

What previous ISEA graduates are saying about our program:

I would definitely recommend this to others! Not only is the collective knowledge and expertise of instructors an invaluable resource, but being in the room with such a great group of people was so genuinely inspiring, I walked out of there feeling like I was part of something greater, like I'd be able to actually make a difference in the world. ~Angela Kovacs, OH

I came into ISEA with knowledge that was limited to what I had learned in advocating for my own son, and I left ready to open the doors of my law practice to families needing legal representation!  I found the program to be well organized, broad, and very encouraging.  I cannot wait to get home and apply what I learned! ~Ashley Barlow, KY

The week will not just fill your head with practical information to use as as an advocate or attorney, it will fill your heart with renewed passion for special education advocacy and a commitment to fight for the recognition of the humanity in all of our great kids. ~Linda Fritz-Gasteier, OH

I highly recommend the ISEA program to any advocate, attorney, parent or professional in the field of Special Education Advocacy who wants to increase their understanding and knowledge.  The level of expertise of the faculty, the information provided and the participants gathered from across the country provided an invaluable experience of learning and growth for me. This is a not to be missed program.  I learned a great deal and look forward to sharing what I have learned with my community.  In addition the beautiful setting of Colonial Williamsburg and the Law School of the College of William and Mary provided an excellent environment for the week.  Thank you!!!!! ~Debra Evans, CA

Parents, lay advocates, and attorneys all have something to learn at ISEA. Whether you are a seasoned professional in special education, or new to the advocacy arena, this conference is a must attend. You will learn from the best of the best. ~Matt Cloven, CO

This institute will provide you with the information to become a better Special Education Advocate by highlighting the process of preparation, the art of IEP's, the resolution of disputes and the laws that promote the education of all students. ~Judith Benson, IL

ISEA 2016