The William & Mary Law Institute of Special Education Advocacy

The William & Mary Law Institute of Special Education Advocacy is presenting its eighth 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 to new attorneys, attorneys who are new to special education law, experienced advocates, and law students (credit & non credit). Please note that the Institute is looking for advocates with experience independent of employment in a school district, as we expect that our graduates assist parents in advocating for children within the community. If you are currently working for a school district, we recommend that you wait to apply until you are no longer working for a school district and have gained significant experience advocating for children in your community.

Nationally recognized speakers donate their time to train attorneys and advocates from all over the country in advanced advocacy. All proceeds go towards funding William and Mary Law School’s PELE Special Education Advocacy Clinic. The Special Education Advocacy Clinic was formed to assist students with disabilities and their families with eligibility or Individualized Education Program meetings, discipline matters, mediation, and administrative hearings. Law students, working under the supervision of a managing attorney, offer these services to families at no charge.

This five-day training program will begin in Williamsburg, VA on Sunday evening, July 29, 2018 with the registration session and welcome reception and conclude on Friday afternoon, August 3, 2018. 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 65. 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 & Bullying
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Transition Planning
  • Dispute Resolution and State Complaints
  • Preparing a Case for Due Process
  • Evidence Strategies
  • Legal Claims and Remedies
  • Creating Systemic Change in Your State


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 completion of ISEA participants will receive a Certificate in Special Education Advocacy from William & Mary Law School. 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 also 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.

Registration Fees

Advocates, Educators/Advocates, Non-Attorneys 


Attorneys (CLE credit pending)



2+ Individuals from same office

10% discount

Law Students (non-credit) 


Advocacy Award and Tuition Waiver:

Kayla Bower Advocacy Award

In celebration of Kayla Bower and her decades of remarkable advocacy on behalf of children with disabilities, the ISEA committee is pleased to award the Kayla Bower Advocacy Award to one member of the 2018 ISEA class. In reviewing award 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 Award, please send a completed application and a statement of interest to the committee that explains why you believe you meet one or more of the above eligibility criteria. Incomplete applications will not be considered. 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 award.)

Please send your application by e-mail to The deadline is June 22, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. EST. *The application for the award will not be considered unless accompanied by a completed ISEA application.

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

**Please note that a deposit is still required and 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 award application. Payment in full will be returned to the award recipient.

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. One such resource is the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities.

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 10, 2018 of no less than ten double-spaced pages to Professor Christina Jones on a topic mutually agreed upon prior to August 3, 2018.

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 Christina Jones 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 65. Attendees will be selected via an application process. The application form includes all registration details, costs, applicant questionnaire, and required pre-conference assignments. 

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.


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

Questions? 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).



A block of rooms is being held at the Embassy Suites Williamsburg for Institute participants for a special rate of $129. This rate includes made to order breakfast and nightly cocktail reception. The special rate will be offered until 5 PM on Friday, June 30 or until the block group is sold-out, whichever comes first. We recommend that you make your reservations as soon as possible. We strongly recommend staying at the Embassy Suites, as we feel participants benefit greatly from the opportunity to network with other participants and conference speakers, however it is not required. Please note though, the shuttle ONLY transports to and from Embassy Suites and you are responsible for finding alterative lodging and rate information, should you chose not to stay.

Embassy Suites
3006 Mooretown Road
Williamsburg, VA 23185


You can make your reservation one of two ways:

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 in the group code field, press enter and the preferred block will come up.

What previous ISEA graduates are saying about our program:

The most informational experience you will encounter in your professional life. ~Nancy Barbour, VT

Learn more in one week than you ever learned in law school. ~Max Cassady, AL

A great way to obtain skills, knowledge, and professional relationships to enhance your practice.  Great way to meet and learn with people who are doing this work.  Learn from the best to be the best. ~Kristie Hamby, AL

The ISEA program is essential training for all who are working in the area of special education advocacy. Equip yourself with the knowledge necessary so that you can effectively help others! ~Heather Eckner, MI

All participants get to be around individuals that have cases that have profoundly changed the Special Education area. It is rare to see this many professionals in one setting. ~Laurie Pachl, CO

Solves the problem of "You don't know what you don't know." ~Tom Mendenhall, MD

The ISEA program is a must attend for both attorneys and advocates interested in Special Education Law.  The quality and breadth of instruction is unparralelled and you will leave the institute having a deeper and practical knowledge of Special Education Law. ~Alexis Garcha, CA

Well worthwhile!  This is a valuable opportunity to learn from many experienced advocates and attorneys.  Once you've exhausted local trainings, this is well worth the trip. ~Carolyn Blasko, NH

ISEA: where seasoned professionals, attorneys, and advocates spend a week teaching and learning the finer points of advocacy for special needs students. ~Molly Isaacs-McLeod, KY

The William & Mary Law ISEA provided an awesome opportunity to learn from incredibly inspirational professionals who have dedicated their careers to advocating for children, as well as network with professionals in my area. ~Anonymous

2017 group photo