On Saturday, January 19th from 11am to 3pm, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, a national nonprofit of parents, advocates, attorneys and related professionals, will offer a free parent training for parents of students with disabilities. The training session will be held at AOC Community Media located inside the Rosa Parks Transportation Center at 101 Jefferson Street in Lafayette.
The training will provide an overview of your rights as a parent and the rights of your child under the law. The training will be led by experienced special education advocates who are members of COPAA’s Executive Board Directors: David Jefferson, Shenikwa Medlock, and Missy Alexander. Also covered are the steps of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process. The training will offer advice on how to communicate with the school, what questions to ask at each point in the IEP process, and include information on the differences and similarities in special education services provided by traditional public schools and charter schools.
During the session, there will also be time for a question and answer portion of the training. For more information or to register for this training session, visit www.copaa.org/events.
David Jefferson, Advocate: As a parent of special needs children,he understands and appreciates all of the difficulties parent’s face as they try and navigate the special education maze. David formed Parent Support Arizona to ensure parents have a local resource and the tools they need to ensure their children’s educational needs are met. Over the past few years, David has sought administrative remedies through the State Department of Education, Office of Administrative Hearings OCR and FERPA. David uses these experiences to provide civil rights advocacy, educational advocacy, parent training and represent parents in IDEA due process hearings in the State of Arizona. In addition he offers self-help tools and resources that allow parents to advocate for themselves and on an equal footing with schools as they advocate for their children’s rights. David is also active in the community and serves on the Board of Directors for several non-profit organizations including:
· The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, “COPAA”
· Reach Family Services, a “Family Run” behavioral Health Agency
· The NAGI Foundation, Addressing the animal welfare needs of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
Shenikwa Medlock, Advocate married for 19+ years and Mom of 4 kids ranging in ages from 7-17 with special needs (Autism, Audio Processing, ADHD, Autism, Twice Exceptional and Sensory Processing Disorder). She understands from a personal level about how having a child with a disability affects every aspect of your life. Mrs. Medlock's motto is "First do no harm". She strives to leave parents, caregivers, and/ or guardians better and more empowered. Her brand of advocacy takes the entire family into consideration. She is experienced in navigating not only special education system (IEP, ARD, 504 plan, etc.) and its complaint process (IEP, ARD, OCR, ADA, Due Process, Texas Education Agency, and School Board complaint). She is knowledgeable about Individual Family and Service Plan (IFSP), Medicaid Waiver Programs, and Transition planning. And, she navigated complaints through Texas Workforce (appointed Transition agency for students with disabilities) DADS in reference to Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) - IDEA Part C, Local Mental Agency, Health and Human Services (complaints specific to Medicaid and Affordable Healthcare Act), Texas Department of Insurance and Medicaid Waiver program. Experienced with Person Centered Planning, Micro-board, and Grant funding resources for private therapeutic services for parents in need in order to improve outcomes for children and adults with disabilities. Mrs. Medlock is a COPAA SEAT graduate. She volunteers as a Parent Leader with Partners Resource Network (Parent Training Information and Resource Center of Texas) and Parent Match volunteer with Texas Parent 2 Parent.
Melissa Alexander (Missy), Advocate, is a parent educator with Maryland’s Parent Training and Information Center. She works with families of children with disabilities in the 3 Southern Maryland counties, helping them advocate for appropriate educational services for their children and finding community resources to meet their children's needs. She presents parent and professional workshops on a variety of topics, and helps facilitate study groups using Wrightslaw's "From Emotions to Advocacy" framework. She is the parent advocate on the St. Mary's County's Local Care Team (formerly known as Local Coordinating Council), and is a member of the St. Mary's County, Maryland Local Management Board. Missy has been a guest lecturer at Towson University, Johns Hopkins University, and The College of Southern Maryland on parenting a child with autism. Missy is Secretary for the Learning Disabilities Association of St. Mary’s County, Maryland, and is on the Board of Directors for the Learning Disabilities Association of Maryland. And the Autism Spectrum Support Group of Southern Maryland. Missy’s dedication and passion for advocating for children with disabilities stems from advocating for her own daughter. Missy is an active member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, specifically the Membership and Conference Committees, and was the first advocate member to Chair of the COPAA Board of Directors in 2012-2013.