Special Education Advocates
We believe in the idea of collaboration, and weave that through the process as we build our relationships with both our clients and the schools.
Our work is driven by data, not emotion. We will help you learn to channel your emotions into concrete action steps to help your child.
We understand your child’s rights. Our extensive training, hands-on experience, ongoing professional development, leads to results.
Laurie B. Markus, Esq. is a special education advocate who works with parents and families throughout Connecticut in securing educational rights for their children with disabilities. Laurie educates families with varied information and tools they need to play an active role in their quest to have their child’s needs productively met. She helps families navigate through the special education process while maintaining an atmosphere of team effort with the school system by clear and respectful communication.
Laurie’s background as an attorney, and her decision to practice as an advocate in the spirit of collaboration, brings a unique skill set to Advocacy for Kids. In addition to her varied work vigilantly advocating for children with special needs in school districts throughout the State, Laurie has completed coursework related to special education advocacy and has also been extensively trained by well regarded clinicians on proven advocacy strategies and effective programming for children with disabilities. Laurie is a member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, the Council of Exceptional Children, Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation, and the Fairfield Special Education Parent Teacher Association. Laurie is also a member of Special Education Equity for Kids of CT (www.seekct.com). SEEK is a group of attorneys, advocates, and parents focused on positive educational outcomes for children with disabilities who intend to play an essential role in influencing policy discussion and in shaping legislative efforts on behalf of students with disabilities in Connecticut.
Laurie graduated with a BA, Magna Cum Laude, from Brandeis University, and has a JD from Emory University School of Law. Prior to entering the field of advocacy, Laurie practiced law as both a criminal and civil litigator, and is a member of the Florida, New York and Connecticut Bar Associations. She resides with her husband, son and daughter in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Kristin Berry is a professional Non-Attorney Special Education Advocate who has been assisting Connecticut families in securing appropriate educational services for their children with disabilities since 2007. She combines her advocacy experience with the education she gained from completing Special Education Advocacy Training (SEAT). SEAT was a year-long course funded by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services awarded to the University of Southern California, University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities in partnership with the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). The training provided for extensive classroom instruction by an attorney and an advocate and a practicum in a special education law firm. Kristin completed her practicum with Andrew Feinstein, Esq. of the Feinstein Education Law Group. She also completed Wrightslaw’s Special Education Law & Advocacy Training. As the parent of a child with disabilities, she also understands the process from a personal perspective. Kristin is also an executive board member of Special Education Equity for Kids of CT (www.seekct.com). SEEK is a group of attorneys, advocates, and parents focused on positive educational outcomes for children with disabilities who intend to play an essential role in influencing policy discussion and in shaping legislative efforts on behalf of students with disabilities in Connecticut.
Kristin received her Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from Saint Michaels College in 1993 and lives with her husband, two sons, a daughter and two dogs in Fairfield, CT.
Mary is a Special Education Advocate who uses best practices in advocating for parents and their children in Connecticut. It is her mission to ensure that each child has access to an appropriate education, despite learning disabilities or social, emotional or health differences. She works collaboratively with families and schools, and uses real data from neuropsychological and psychoeducational evaluations to build successful IEPs so that each child is provided the special education and related services they need to be successful in school. Mary also works with students transitioning from high school to college or vocational school to ensure that they receive the accommodations they need to access the school’s curriculum.
Mary is a member of the Council of Parent, Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), Special Education Equity for Kids of CT (SEEK) and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). She attended COPAA’s Attorney Training Program in 2016, received her Certificate in Special Education Advocacy from William and Mary Law School in 2019, and regularly attends local trainings and national conferences to keep current on issues related to special education advocacy. Mary received her BA from Lawrence University, and her JD from DePaul University College of Law. Mary is licensed to practice law in Illinois. Prior to becoming an advocate, she practiced corporate and securities law at a large law firm and was the corporate governance and securities counsel for a large public company. Mary lives in Fairfield with her husband and three sons.
Is your child having academic, behavioral, or social difficulties and you don’t know the best way to communicate with his school? Is your child eligible for special education services and you don’t know if her needs are being met? There are concrete steps you can take to ensure that your child is getting the help he or she may need. That’s where we can help.
Advocacy for Kids will:
We look forward to working with you as we advocate together for your child.
Most importantly, we will help you develop a solid working relationship with your child’s school. Our end goal? To get you to a point where you are comfortable and confident advocating for your child on your own.
The truth is…no one knows your child better than you and that makes you a vital member of your child’s team.
Our services may include:
1) Schools are happy to see us coming.
OK. Maybe happy is an overstatement. Let’s face it. School teams are never thrilled when there is an advocate involved…and this is often the biggest fear expressed by parents who have never worked with an advocate.
We understand this fear, and it is not our style to enter a meeting with a tone of anger or intimidation. Conversely, we believe in the idea of collaboration, and weave that through the process as we build our relationships with both our clients and the schools. We aim to bring school teams and parents together—not create further divide. We pride ourselves on the ability to create a team atmosphere, and work with our clients to do some ‘repair-work’ when the parent-school relationship has been strained.
The overwhelming feedback we receive from educators is that they like to work with us. We are known for facilitating productive, respectful, and ‘relationship-building’ meetings. And this leads to positive results for the families we serve.
2) Our work is driven by data, not emotion.
When parents first come to us for support, they are sad, or frustrated, or confused, or angry…or just plain tired. We get it, and we know from personal experience the emotions that come with having a child who is struggling at school. Advocating for your child is almost always exhausting. We are here to support you through this process. We help you channel those emotions into concrete action steps to help your child.
Everything we do, every piece of advice we give, is driven by data. Through a comprehensive review of your child’s records, and conversations with you and the private providers you may be working with, we use data to form our understanding of your child’s educational history. It is information—not emotion—that allows us to develop a strategy to secure the supports your child needs. And if we don’t have the information we need, we will tell you how to get it. Data drives good decision making.
3) We understand your child’s rights.
Our extensive training, hands-on experience, ongoing professional development, leads to results. Further, our unique prior work experience in managing conflict, persuasive argument, facilitating negotiations, and fostering positive relationships—in combination with our vast knowledge of what works in education advocacy—makes us very good at what we do.