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Conference Agenda (PDF version)



A live Virtual Three Day Event

June 24, 25 and 28, 2021

Presented by
The New York State Association of School Attorneys
in conjunction with

The New York State School Boards Association


The 20th Annual School Attorney Law Conference will be recorded. The links to the recordings for each day will be emailed to all registrants a few weeks following the conclusion of the event.

Conference Registration
Registration Fee: $205

Conference registration will remain open through June 28, 2021. Refunds will not be granted for cancellations received after June 21, 2021. All cancellations must be made in writing to the New York State School Boards Association.

9.0   Areas of Professional Practice
1.0   Ethics & Professionalism
1.0   Diversity, Inclusion, Elimination of Bias

New York State Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Credits: This program is approved for 11.0 CLE credit hours (9.0 in Professional Practice, 1.0 in Ethics and Professionalism, and 1.0 in Diversity, Inclusion, Elimination of Bias). The content is appropriate for both newly admitted and experienced attorneys.

Important Notice: Partial credit for program segments not allowed.
Under the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board Regulations and Guidelines, attendees at CLE programs cannot receive MCLE credit for a program segment unless they are present for the entire segment. Persons who arrive late, depart early, or are absent for any portion of the segment will not receive credit for that segment.

Tuition Assistance:
Application for tuition assistance to attend this program may be made based on financial hardship. Under that policy, an applicant who has a genuine financial hardship may apply in writing not later than five working days prior to the program, explaining the basis of his/her hardship, and, if approved, may receive tuition assistance, depending upon the circumstances. For more details, please contact Jay Worona, NYSSBA, at 518.783.0200 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

More Information

For more information about the conference, visit, or contact Phyllis Secor, NYSSBA Executive Assistant to Jay Worona, at 518.783.3773 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Jay Worona, NYSSBA, at 518.783.0200 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Program Planning Committee:
              • Pilar Sokol, Esq., NYSSBA, Co-chair
              • Heather M. Cole, Esq., Ferrara Fiorenza PC, Co-Chair
              • Erin O’Grady-Parent, Esq., Guercio & Guercio, LLP
              • Andrew J. Freedman, Esq., Hodgson Russ, LLP

Reminder: The Conference will be “paperless.” Prior to the conference, you will receive an email with a direct link to download and preview the materials in a printer-friendly format.


Thursday, June 24, 2021

1:00 - 1:10 p.m.

and Introduction

Sara E. Visingard, Esq., Member, Harris Beach PLLC; President, NYSASA
Jay Worona, Esq., Deputy Executive Director & General Counsel, New York State School Boards Association; Ex Officio Board Member, NYSASA

1:10 - 2:00 p.m.

Handling Commissioner Appeals
Learn from experienced practitioners about the nuts and bolts of how to handle appeals to the Commissioner of Education. Gain insight and practice tips about common procedural defenses and grounds for dismissal.  Learn also how to present the district’s case to the Commissioner in order to achieve the best possible outcome for your client.
Shannon Tahoe, Esq., School Attorney, Capital Region BOCES
Lisa L. Hutchinson, Esq., Partner, Guercio & Guercio, LLP

2:00 - 2:50 p.m.

Doing Student Discipline Right, including in a Virtual School Environment
Hear what school attorneys can do to help school districts avoid the more common legal mistakes they make when disciplining students. Learn more about the ways in which remote and virtual learning are affecting student discipline, including the nature of charges, procedural challenges, and suspensions and other penalties. Explore the possible impact of a U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming B.L. v. Mahanoy on the application of the Tinker standard to off-campus student misconduct.
James A. Gregory, Esq., Partner, Hogan, Sarzynski, Lynch, DeWind & Gregory, LLP
Candace J. Gomez, Esq., Member, Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC
FacilitatorThomas M. Volz. Esq., Law Offices of Thomas M. Volz, PLLC

2:50 - 3:00 p.m.

3:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Data Privacy and Security Issues: Persisting Legal and Practical Considerations
Join a discussion about the state and federal student data privacy obligations of school districts and third party contractors, along with the larger privacy and policy implications. The presenters will discuss current trends amidst schools during the pandemic, and the impact of hybrid and virtual instructional models. Security of systems and practical application of state and federal legal requirements will be discussed in the context of data privacy and security.
Julie M. Shaw, Esq., Partner, Shaw, Perelson, May & Lambert, LLP
David M. Pellow, Esq., School Attorney, Madison-Oneida BOCES
Andrea Tejedor, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Technology, Highland Falls-Fort Montgomery Central School District

4:00 p.m.
Conclusion – Day 1
Friday, June 25, 2021

8:20 - 8:30 a.m.

Welcome and Introduction
Sara E. Visingard, Esq., Member, Harris Beach PLLC; President, NYSASA
Jay Worona, Esq., Deputy Executive Director & General Counsel, New York State School Boards Association; Ex Officio Board Member, NYSASA

8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

How to Use Section 913 Examinations and Respond to Accommodation Requests Effectively
Revisit the basics of the Section 913 examination process and gain a deeper understanding of how this provision of law can be used more effectively. Hear about the legal issues involved, and best practices that can help properly address both the impact of physical and mental health concerns on job performance and student health and safety, as well as disability related requests for accommodation.
Beth A. Bourassa, Esq., Partner, Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, LLP
Sharon N. Berlin, Esq., Partner, Lamb & Barnosky, LLP

9:30 - 9:40 a.m.

9:40 - 10:30 a.m.

Trending Issues in Special Education – Compensatory Education, Virtual IHO Hearings and Independent Educational Evaluations in the Aftermath of D.S. v. Trumbull
Examine more closely the legal standards applicable to determine the need to provide compensatory education to students whose ability to receive a free appropriate public education has been affected by the use of hybrid and virtual instructional models. Hear what works and what doesn’t in a virtual special education impartial hearing. Find out how the Trumbull decision is affecting school responses to requests for independent educational evaluations and the conduct of functional behavioral assessments.:
Tara L. Moffett, Esq., Partner, Girvin & Ferlazzo, P.C.
Jeffrey J. Weiss, Esq.,Member, Harris Beach PLLC         

10:30 - 11:45 a.m.

Collective Bargaining Roundtable – A Pragmatic Approach to Making the Process Work
Hear from three seasoned labor negotiators about their experiences and tried practices regarding the creation of an inclusive board; administration- and counsel-supported bargaining packages and strategies; the effective use of data; cordial and confrontational bargaining postures; side deals, caucusing; board and administrative participation at the table, when to “take it or leave it;” MOA drafting, and impact bargaining.  Also find out about new concepts to reduce teacher staff costs including substantial salary schedule modification, and dealing with post-COVID issues.
John H. Gross, Esq., Partner, Ingerman Smith, LLP
Gregory J. Guercio, Esq., Partner, Guercio & Guercio, LLP
David S. Shaw, Esq., Partner, Shaw, Perelson, May & Lambert, LLP

11:45 a.m. - 12:35 p.m.

Non-conventional Approaches to Bargaining – Facilitated Negotiations and the Role of a School Attorney in Advising School Districts that Conduct their Own Negotiations
Learn more about the Facilitated Intensive Negotiations Model and when it might be beneficial to consider its use. Also explore how school attorneys can best work with school district clients that choose to conduct their own negotiations to help them avoid pitfalls and best serve the district’s needs.
Heather M. Cole, Esq., Attorney, Ferrara Fiorenza PC
William M. Conley, Acting Director, Office of Conciliation, PERB
Kevin B. Flanigan, Retired Director of Conciliation & Active Panel Member, PERB
Facilitator: Lawrence J. Tenenbaum, Esq., Partner, Jaspan Schlesinger LLP

12:35 p.m.
Conclusion – Day 2
Monday, June 28, 2021

8:50 - 9:00 a.m.

Sara E. Visingard, Esq., Member, Harris Beach PLLC; President, NYSASA
Jay Worona, Esq., Deputy Executive Director & General Counsel, New York State School Boards Association; Ex Officio Board Member, NYSASA

9:00 - 10:00 a.m.

Challenges of Disciplining Staff, and Appearances in Court, PERB, Arbitration, DHR and Other Types of Proceedings and Hearings including Conference Calls in a Virtual Environment
Join a discussion of current legal and practical challenges related to the representation of school districts in matters concerning staff discipline, Taylor Law compliance, arbitration, unemployment and other types of proceedings in a virtual environment. What happens when a union insists that disciplinary proceedings must be conducted in-person? How have practices concerning PERB proceedings changed?  Are arbitration proceedings still business as usual? What has changed in the courts? Share experiences regarding these questions and more.
Luisa D. Bostick, Esq., Senior Associate, Hodgon Russ, LLP
Jeffrey M. Lewis, Esq., Attorney, Ferrara Fiorenza PC
Christopher Mestecky, Esq., Partner, Guercio & Guercio, LLP

10:00 - 10:10 a.m.

10:10 - 11:10 a.m.

Ethical Issues that Affect the Remote and Virtual Practice of Law
Issues related to the remote and virtual practice of law, currently amplified by the realities of an ongoing pandemic, pose unique ethical challenges for attorneys. Review and examine the applicable rules of professional conduct related to the exigencies of the attorney-client privilege, the preservation of confidentiality concerning communications and records, and more, and learn about practical strategies for ensuring compliance with the ethical rules of practice.
Donald E. Budmen, Esq., Attorney, Ferrara Fiorenza PC
Neil M. Block, Esq., Partner, Ingerman Smith, LLP

11:10 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

Racial and Gender Diversity Issues in Today’s Work Environment
A review of recent legal developments that impact diversity and performance expectations; emerging trends in diversity and inclusion; and practical suggestions for achieving a sustainable, diverse law office practice.
Kate I. Reid, Esq., Member, Bond Shoeneck & King, PLLC
Ayanna Y. Thomas, Esq., Associate, Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC

12:10 - 12:30 p.m.

NYSASA Annual Meeting for Members
Election of 2022 NYSASA Directors and Officers and approval of NYSASA’s Legislative Agenda

12:30 p.m.


President's Message


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