Faculty

COSA is grateful to the accomplished attorneys from its ranks, as well as guest speakers who graciously give their time to present our outstanding program. Thank you, faculty!

2016 School Law Practice Seminar Committee

NANCY HUNGERFORD, Chair

Nancy Hungerford is the founder of The Hungerford Law Firm, Oregon City, Oregon. She built the law firm from a solo practice to a five-person firm that now represents half the districts in the state of Oregon. Ms. Hungerford has represented school districts and community colleges in bargaining more than 400 collective bargaining agreements, and practiced extensively in student-related matters (including a special education case that was heard by the Supreme Court).  She is a director of NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys.  Ms. Hungerford received her law degree, magna cum laude, from Lewis & Clarke Law School.

SÉAMUS BOYCE

Mr. Boyce is a partner with Church, Church, Hittle & Antrim in Noblesville, Indiana. He is admitted to practice law before the state and federal courts of Indiana and has briefed a case before the Supreme Court of the United States. He has served on the Board of Governors for the Indiana State Bar Association. He is a frequent presenter, writer and contributor for COSA, ELA, and AASA. Mr. Boyce is an alumnus of Wabash College and the University of New Hampshire School of Law where he concurrently earned both a law degree and a masters in education law.

 

JIM KEITH

Mr. Keith, a partner with Adams and Reece in Jackson, was born and raised in Mississippi.  He graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Law, where he was the Business Manager for the Law Journal.  He joined the firm of Brunini, Grantham, Grower and Hewes in 1982, and Adams and Reece in 1996, where he continued to expand and grow his education law practice.  He currently serves as the attorney for the Mississippi School Boards Association, the Mississippi High School Activities Association, and the board attorney for eight school districts.  He provides legal services to roughly 100 of the 150 school districts in the state.  Mr. Keith speaks annually at the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents’ conference, as well as Mississippi School Boards Association events. Since 2011, Mr. Keith has led COSA’s IDEA Reauthorization Working Group.

 

KATHY MEHFOUD

Ms.  Mehfoud is a partner with Reed Smith in the Richmond, Virginia office. She focuses her practice on education law, including the representation of school boards in special education matters such as issues relating to eligibility, placement, IEP, discipline and due process hearings.  She lectures extensively on a national basis on special education issues and has published on the subject.  She is a director of NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys, chaired the 2014 School Law Practice Seminar, is an active participant in COSA’s IDEA Reauthorization Working Group, and frequently contributes and presents for COSA webinars and seminars.  She received her law degree from University of Richmond School of Law.

 

RANDY BENNETT

Mr. Bennett is the Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel of the Tennessee School Boards Association in Nashville.  In that capacity, he provides general legal opinions to local boards of education, superintendents and TSBA staff on school governance issues, organizes and presents at seminars and training events, prepares and files amicus briefs in appellate cases affecting schools, monitors current litigation and changes in state and federal law, and supervises the Association’s Policy Department.  A former school board member and police officer, Mr. Bennett obtained his law degree from Nashville School of Law.

 

MICHAEL J. JULKA

Mr. Julka is a partner in the firm Boardman & Clark LLP, in Madison, WI.  Practicing almost exclusively in the areas of school law and public sector labor/employment law, he serves as lead counsel for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards and many school district and Cooperative Education Service Agency clients throughout Wisconsin.  He is the primary author of WASB’s publication A Guide to Nonrenewing Teacher Contracts, and was a contributing author to a multi-volume treatise, Education Law.  Before his legal career, Mr. Julka taught mathematics in a public high school.  He obtained his law degree, cum laude, from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

 

MICHAEL E. SMITH

Two-year term Mr. Smith is a founding partner of Lozano Smith, a school law attorney, educator and speaker, and has represented school districts for over 30 years.  In addition to his experience as general counsel in all aspects of education law, Mr. Smith has specific expertise in collective bargaining, labor and personnel, superintendent and administrator contracts, student discipline matters, and constitutional questions involving religion speech and search and seizure.  Mr. Smith obtained his law degree from University of California at Davis.

 

LISA FREILEY

Lisa Freiley, Staff Counsel/Director of PACE Administration, has been with the Oregon School Boards Association staff since September 1990. She earned a doctor of jurisprudence with an emphasis on labor, personnel and administrative law from Willa­mette College of Law as well as a certificate in dispute resolution from the Center for Dispute Resolution at Willamette University College of Law.

Lisa is responsible for overseeing and directing the Association’s legal matters including advising departments on specific legal issues and their interrelation among other departments.  She provides administrative oversight for the Property and Casualty Coverage for Education (PACE) insuring high quality claims management, underwriting, financial services, risk management, training and pre-loss legal services for members

ANDY SANCHEZ 

Mr. Sanchez is the current chair of NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys and a partner in the Albuquerque, New Mexico office of Cuddy & McCarthy, LLP.  His practice focuses on school law and litigation defense of local school districts in New Mexico. He served on the staff of the Office of General Counsel for the Central Intelligence Agency, working primarily on employment and federal law enforcement and armed protection issues.  Mr. Sanchez has represented school districts before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the New Mexico Human Rights Commission/Human Rights Bureau on employment matters. He received his law degree from George Washington University Law School and is currently an adjunct professor at New Mexico State University.

Faculty

KATIE ANDERSON

Katie Anderson is a partner at Strasburger & Price in Dallas, Texas. She serves as the Chair of the firm’s Governmental Law industry team and as counsel for Texas Public Risk Management Association. In 2016 she was named among the Best Lawyers in Dallas by D Magazine. Ms. Anderson earned a Bachelors in Business Administration from The University of Texas and earned her Juris Doctorate from Baylor Law School.

DON AUSTIN

Don Austin is a principal at Patterson Buchanan Fobes Leitch in their Seattle, Washington office. He was General Counsel for California’s Ventura Unified School District for eight years, where he handled nearly all legal issues for that 17,500 student district. In 2004 he was President of the California Council of School Attorneys. Mr. Austin has a B.A. and M.A.T. in English from Portland State University. He earned his J.D. from Northwest School of Law of Lewis and Clark College.

 

ANURIMA BHARGAVA

Anurima Bhargava served as the Chief of the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.  She led the Division’s efforts to provide equal educational opportunities for all students by enforcing federal statutes that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, sex, language status, religion and disability in schools and institutions of higher education. Prior to joining the DOJ in 2010, Bhargava served as the Director of the Education Practice at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where she was actively engaged in litigation and advocacy to expand educational access and opportunities for students of color. Ms. Bhargava earned her law degree from Columbia Law School and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College.

KRISTEN CLARK

Kristen Clark is a Senior Attorney at the Texas Association of School Boards. Prior to joining TASB, Ms. Clark was in private practice with law firms in McAllen and Austin, handling civil litigation cases involving a variety of issues. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas school law section, the Texas Council of School Attorneys, and the National Council of School Attorneys. Ms. Clark graduated magna cum laude from Texas Christian University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. She received her law degree with honors from The University of Texas School of Law in 1991. During law school, Ms. Clark was Chair of the Legal Research Board.

TODD CLARK

Todd Clark is a shareholder in the Austin, Texas office of Walsh Gallegos Treviño Russo & Kyle. Mr. Clark represents public entities in the courtroom, successfully guiding responses to lawsuits ranging from volatile employment matters to complex transactional claims and multimillion dollar False Claims Act allegations. He has helped shape laws regarding public entity immunity and the delivery of special services to students at the legislative level and in the Texas Supreme Court. Mr. Clark earned his Bachelor of Science and Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas.

LISA FREILEY

Lisa Freiley is Staff Counsel and PACE Administrator with the Oregon School Boards Association. She earned a doctor of jurisprudence with an emphasis on labor, personnel and administrative law from Willamette College of Law as well as a certificate in dispute resolution from the Center for Dispute Resolution at Willamette University College of Law. Lisa is responsible for overseeing and directing the Association’s legal matters including advising departments on specific legal issues and their interrelation among other departments.  She provides administrative oversight for the Property and Casualty Coverage for Education (PACE) insuring high quality claims management, underwriting, financial services, risk management, training and pre-loss legal services for members.

JAMES GESSFORD

James Gessford is a partner with Perry, Guthery, Haase & Gessford in Lincoln, Nebraska. Mr. Gessford is a member and past president (1981 and 1982) of the Nebraska School Board Council of School Attorneys and from 1994 through 1998 served on the Board of Directors of the National School Board Council of School Attorneys. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Hastings College and earned his Juris Doctorate from University of Nebraska College of Law.

 

ERIN GILSBACH

Erin D. Gilsbach is an associate and the Director of Professional Education and Policy Development with King Spry Herman Freund & Faul in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  She designs the curriculum and conducts many of the courses offered, which address a variety of pertinent legal topics for educators and administrators including both special education and regular education issues. She serves as an adjunct professor of school law for Delaware Valley University.  Ms. Gilsbach earned her Juris Doctorate from Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law and received a B.A. in English with a minor in Secondary Education from Grove City College as well as a Master’s in Education from Pennsylvania State University.

TIMOTHY GILSBACH

Timothy Gilsbach is an associate with King Spry Herman Freund & Faul, concentrating his practice in litigation and special education law. He works with school districts, charter schools and intermediate units on a wide array of education law issues. Mr. Gilsbach has represented education entities through numerous IEP meetings and litigated dozens of special education matters, from administrative due process hearing to appeals through the Federal District Courts and Courts of Appeals. He earned his Juris Doctorate from Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University and his BA in Political Science from Messiah College.

GREG GUERCIO (Host)

Gregory J. Guercio is founding partner of the Farmingdale, New York law firm of Guercio & Guercio.  He concentrates his practice in school law, serving as both general and labor counsel to a number of school districts.  He is a Past President of the New York State Association of School Attorneys and is past chair of NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys. He received his law degree from St. John’s University School of Law.

STEPHANIE HARPER

Portland Public School District #1
Portland, OR 

 

 

 

 

PHILLIP L. HARTLEY

Phillip L. Hartley is a founding partner with Harben & Hartley in Gainesville, Georgia.  In the firm’s capacity as general counsel to the Georgia School Boards Association, he works closely with GSBA, the Georgia School Superintendents Association and the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders to respond to and shape legislative and policy issues that affect public education in the state. He has served as lead counsel in numerous cases involving Georgia’s school districts in the federal and state courts. He serves on the Board of Directors of the National Council of School Attorneys.  He graduated with honors from the University of Georgia and received his J.D. degree with honors from the University of Georgia Law School. He was a member of the Georgia Law Review, Order of the Coif and Phi Beta Kappa.

BETSEY HELFRICH

Betsey Helfrich is an associate in the St. Louis, Missouri office of Mickes, Goldman, O’Toole, where she practices in the areas of education, special education and labor and employment law.  She has successfully represented school district clients against a variety of claims in state and federal courts, as well as in administrative hearings, including special education due process hearings. Ms. Helfrich received her law degree from the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law.

 

JAMES A. KEITH

James A. Keith is a partner in the Ridgeland, Mississippi office of Adams and Reese, where he practices in the areas of employment, education and administrative law. A focused aspect of his practice involves the representation of educational entities, including school districts, community colleges and universities. He has contributed to the expansion of the Education practice across the firm. Mr. Keith is a director of NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys, and has chaired the IDEA Reauthorization Working Group for several years. He received his law degree from the University of Mississippi Law School.

CHARLES LEITCH

Charles Leitch is a Founding Principal of Patterson Buchanan Fobes & Leitch, Inc., P.S.  Prior to founding PBF&L, he was a partner in the Seattle litigation firm of Lee Smart Cook Martin and Patterson. Before transitioning to his civil practice, he served as a prosecutor on the city and county levels. Mr. Leitch earned a Bachelor of Arts from Whitman College and received his Juris Doctorate from Willamette University School of Law.

ANNE LITTLEFIELD

Anne H. Littlefield is a partner in the Hartford, Connecticut office of Shipman Goodwin where she is co-chair of the firm’s School Law Practice Group. She represents public school districts and charter schools in labor relations, employment and education law. Ms. Littlefield received her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.

 

 

ANDREW MANNA

Andrew A. Manna is a partner in the Noblesville, Indiana office of Church Church Hittle & Antrim, where he represents clients in matters associated with labor and employment law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  He engages in defense of school corporations against claims under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), First Amendment and other constitutional and civil rights law matters. Mr. Manna is a director of NBA’s Council of School Attorneys.  He received his law degree from Indiana University School of Law.

PATRICE MCCARTHY

Patrice McCarthy is the deputy director and general counsel for the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education.  She is a past chair of NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys. Ms. McCarthy received her law degree from the University of Connecticut Law School.

 

 

PETER MERSEREAU

Peter Mersereau is a partner at Mersereau Shannon LLP. He handles a significant number of legal malpractice defense assignments as a long-standing member of the Oregon Professional Liability Fund defense panel. He is also on the litigation defense panels for the pooled trusts administered by the Oregon School Boards Association and the Special Districts Association of Oregon. Mr. Mersereau received his B.A. from Yale University and his J.D. from Cornell University Law School.

FRANCISCO M. NEGRÓN, JR.

Francisco M. Negrón, Jr. is Associate Executive Director and General Counsel of the National School Boards Association, where he provides leadership for NSBA’s legal advocacy program and 3,000 member Council of School Attorneys, and oversees the association’s corporate legal work. Mr. Negrón received his law degree from Florida State University College of Law.

 

JOLLEE PATTERSON

Jollee Patterson is the former General Counsel for Portland Public Schools. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and UCLA School Law. She is the Oregon Chair of the Council of School Attorneys, and serves on several boards and professional associations with a focus on diversity and inclusion.

 

 

MIKE PATTERSON

Mike Patterson is the Senior Principal and President at Patterson Buchanan Fobes and Leitch, Inc., P.S., a Pacific Northwest law firm with offices located in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. The firm’s practice focuses heavily on litigation defense of public entities and religious organizations, including employment cases ranging from discrimination and retaliation, to wrongful termination, harassment, constitutional civil rights and due process, and negligent hiring, retention, and supervision. Mr. Patterson received his B.A. from Gonzaga University, a J.D. from University of Notre Dame Law School, and a Masters of Law from New York University.

JUSTINO PETRARCA (Host)

Justino D. Petrarca is a principal in the Chicago, Illinois law firm of Scariano, Himes & Petrarca.  He concentrates his practice on labor negotiations, labor relations law and school desegregation. He is the immediate past chair of NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys. Mr. Petrarca received his law degree from John Marshall Law School.

 

 

MIKE PORTER

Mike Porter is a partner in the employment law and labor relations and education law practice teams of Miller Nash Graham & Dunn. His practice focuses on serving public school districts, private schools, and higher education institutions on issues involving employment, including tenure issues, student rights and discipline, education programs, and federal and state regulatory compliance. Mr. Porter received a Bachelor of Arts from Kansas State University, a Juris Doctorate from University of Kansas, and a Master of Arts in Education from University of South Carolina. 

DAVID RUBIN

David B. Rubin is a sole practitioner in Metuchen, New Jersey, where he represents public school districts and private schools throughout the state. He has handled numerous precedent-setting cases before the Commissioner of Education, the Public Employment Relations Commission, and all levels of the state and federal court system. Mr. Rubin is a past Chair of NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys.  He received his law degree from Rutgers School of Law.

GARY RUESCH

Gary Ruesch is an attorney with Buelow Vetter Buikema Olson & Vliet, LLC. He has over 30 years of experience representing school districts and private schools in the areas of special education law, general school law, and labor and employment law. Mr. Ruesch received his law degree from Marquette University Law School.

 

ALLISON SCHAFER

Allison Schafer is the director of policy and legal counsel for the North Carolina School Boards Association.  She attended law school at Wake Forest University and has practiced school law and been a member of the NSBA Council for more than 20 years.  She is a past chair of NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys.

 

 

SARAH SCHMANKE

Sarah Schmanke is a partner at Mickes O’Toole, LLC, where she practices exclusively in education law.  Sarah is a five-time recipient of Super Lawyer’s Missouri & Kansas Rising Stars in Education Law recognition.  In addition to practicing law, Sarah holds a Missouri teaching certificate and has been an adjunct professor at Fontbonne University’s College of Education since 2007.

 

 

SLOAN SIMMONS

Sloan Simmons is a Partner in Lozano Smith's Sacramento office and co-chair of the firm's Litigation Practice Group. His areas of expertise are civil rights litigation, law and motion practice, and appeals, as well as student issues. Mr. Simmons specializes in student issues such as student discipline, student free speech, fees, student records, the Equal Access Act, and other constitutional and statutory rights and requirements. Mr. Simmons earned his J.D. from the University of California, Davis, School of Law, and his B.A. (summa cum laude), with Honors in the Major and Honors in General Education, from California State University, Chico.

JENNIFER SMITH

Jennifer Smith is a partner with Franczek Radelet in Chicago, Illinois where represents education clients on a wide range of issues, including student rights, athletics, special education, labor and employment law, policy development, TIF counseling, and litigation. She has extensive experience representing public school districts and higher education institutions in investigations and litigation. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Northern Iowa and earned her law degree from University of Iowa.

 

JIM THOMECZEK

Jim Thomeczek is a founding attorney of Thomeczek & Brink LLC in St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Thomeczek has served as the Chairperson of the School Law Committee of the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis and the Chairperson of the Missouri Council of School Attorneys.  He has testified before the Education Committee of the Missouri House of Representatives.  He currently serves on COSA’s IDEA Advisory Group. Mr. Thomeczek received his law degree from St. Louis University School of Law.

 

RON WENKART (Host)

Ronald D. Wenkart is the general counsel at the Orange County Department of Education, Costa Mesa, California. He represents school districts, community colleges, the Orange County superintendent of schools, and the Orange County Board of Education in matters pertaining to education law.  Mr. Wenkart is a former director of NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys.  He received his law degree from the University of San Fernando Valley College of Law (now the University of LaVerne).

 

PATTI WHITTEN

Patti Whitten is a partner with Franczek Radelet. Ms. Whitten has devoted her legal career to the practice of education law. She is a former director of NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys,  a founding member of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys (ICSA) and currently serves as chair of its executive board. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Louisiana State University and her Juris Doctorate from Chicago-Kent College of Law, with honors.

 

BRANDON WRIGHT

Brandon Wright is an attorney at the law firm of Miller, Tracy, Braun, Funk & Miller, Ltd.  He also served as a member of the Anna-Jonesboro Community High School Board of Education from 1999-2003, the youngest person to be elected to a school board in Illinois at that time.  Mr. Wright graduated with a B.S. in Speech Communication from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and a master's degree in educational administration from the Department of Educational Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois. He received his Juris Doctor from the University Of Illinois College Of Law.

LINDA YODER

Linda Yoder is a partner in the School Law Practice Group at Shipman and Goodwin in their Hartford office. She has over 25 years of experience advising public and independent schools and colleges on education matters. Ms. Yoder has worked with many school districts throughout the state on general education, litigation and special education matters. She received her bachelor of arts from Grove City College and obtained her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

 

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