Presenter Bios


Presenter Bios for 2017

Carrie Basas
Director, Washington State Governor’s Office of the Education Ombuds, Seattle, Washington

Carrie Griffin Basas is the Director of the Washington State Governor’s Of­fice of Education Ombuds and serves on Governor Inslee’s small cabinet. Ms. Basas is a former civil rights and labor law attorney. For many years, she was a law professor, specializing in disability rights, criminal justice, and ethics. She has taught at the University of North Carolina School of Law, Penn State Uni­versity, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Tulsa College of Law, and Saint Joseph’s College of Maine. In 2014, Ms. Basas returned to graduate school to attain a MEd in Education Pol­icy, Organization, and Leadership from the University of Washington. Ms. Basas is also a graduate of Swarthmore Col­lege and Harvard Law School.

Sam Blazina
Education Ombuds, Washington State Office of the Education Ombuds, Ellensburg, Washington

In her current role as an Education Ombuds for the Governor’s Office of the Education Ombuds (OEO), Sam Blazina strives to promote equity in education by working with families and schools to remove barriers so that every student can fully participate in and benefit from public education. Sam earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Public Health Education and Spanish at Central Washington University as well as her Master’s degree in Special Education. Prior to her work with OEO, Sam had 25 years of combined experience in the fields of Public Health, independent living counseling, social service, post-secondary-level academic and career counseling, and community program development.

Sam maintains a strong commitment to serving youth with disabilities in the area of transition. As a parent of a young adult with a profound disability still in school, Sam understands first-hand how to navigate through systems and most effectively bridge them so that students and their parents can fully participate in the decision-making impacting their future.

Diana Photo 100x152 pixelsDiana Browning Wright
Educational/Behavioral Consultant, DianaBrowningWright INC., Sierra Madre, California

Diana Browning Wright, MS, LEP, is a well-known initiative leader with successful Behavioral RTI/MTSS, LRE and restrictive settings for EBD, writing effective behavior plans, V-stag evidence based threat assessment, and other initiatives on improving educational outcomes for all students in states and regions across the country.

Diana’s extensive background is in educational reform, behavioral RTI, emotional disturbance, school psychology, traumatic brain injury, behavior analysis and classroom teaching. She has worked with students with and without disabilities from preschool through graduate schools, across all disabilities and diversity groups, and is known for her practical, use-tomorrow materials.

She has published her work in numerous peer reviewed journals, authored three books for LRP publications, a book on TBI implications for educators, and three editions of “Positive Interventions for Serious Behavior Problems” published by the State of California as well as many other articles on both teaching and behavior support. Ms. Wright is a co- author of the Behavior Support Plan Desk Reference and the BSP Quality Evaluation Guide, work that teaches how to develop function based behavior plans and how to evaluate their quality across student populations, with and without disabilities. Much of her work is accessible at no cost at

ArtCernosia picture 110x113 pixelsArt Cernosia
Attorney at Law/Education Consultant, Williston, Vermont

Art Cernosia is a licensed attorney and an education consultant from Williston, Vermont. Art previously worked as a teacher, an Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Vermont Department of Education, a practicing attorney, and consultant with a  national special education technical assistance center. He was associated with the University of Vermont’s Education Law Institute for over 30 years where he taught and provided legal workshops. He also volunteered as a surrogate parent for students with disabilities who were placed in juvenile detention facilities. He provides training, consultation and other technical assistance services to state and local education agencies and advocacy organizations throughout the nation pertaining to special education legal issues.

Eric Hartwig photo 100x130 pixelsEric Hartwig
Recently retired Administrator/Psychologist, Marathon County Special Education, Wausau, Wisconsin

Eric P Hartwig, Ph.D. received his doctorate in  Educational Administration from the University of Wisconsin¬ Madison, a M.S. in School Psychology and a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He is experienced and licensed as a Director of Pupil Services, District Administrator and a School Psychologist/Private Practice ®.He is recently retired from the position of Administrator of Pupil Services for the Marathon County Children with Disabilities Education Board and is the author and principle trainer on the Just-in-Time: Behavioral Initiative Project. He has been an adjunct professor for Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin ¬ Madison and has been an adjunct professor and research advisor for Cardinal Stritch College-Milwaukee and Aurora University-Wisconsin Campus. Dr. Hartwig was named Administrator of Special Services of the Year for 2007-2008, by the Wisconsin Counsel of Administrators of Special Services (WCASS). Dr. Hartwig is a well-respected and noted speaker providing training on a regional, state, national and international level.

Graham Hicks photo 100x133 pixelsGraham Hicks
Attorney at Law, Graham M. Hicks, P.C., Beaverton, Oregon

Graham is an attorney in private practice in Beaverton, Oregon. He advises and represents school districts throughout Oregon and Southwestern Washington on special education law and other disability law matters. After 33 years with the Portland office of Miller Nash, LLP, Graham founded his own law firm in 2006. He is a member of the Education Law Association, NSBA Council of School Attorneys, Oregon Council of School Attorneys, and the state bars of Oregon and Washington and serves on the Dispute Resolution Committee of the Oregon Department of Education.  Graham is a frequent presenter at law conferences and conducts workshops and trainings for school district staff on a variety of special education topics. He is an author of “The Educator’s Guide: Student Discipline in Oregon,” a widely-used reference on discipline of general and special education students.

Jose Martin
Attorney at Law, Richards Lindsay & Martin, LLP, Austin, Texas

Jose Martín is a partner with the school law firm of Richards Lindsay & Martín in Austin, Texas. His law practice of over 20 years has focused exclusively on matters involving the education of students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504. He is a graduate of the University of Texas and the University of Texas School of Law. A background in journalism has led Jose to frequent publication in the area of disabilities laws and their impact on students and public schools. He currently serves as Contributing Editor to the national publication The Special Educator and LRP’s web-based Special Ed Connection As a speaker, Mr. Martín presents numerous topics on disabilities laws to audiences at local, regional, state, and national conferences.

Jonathan Martinis
Senior Director for Law and Policy, The Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University, Washington D.C.

Jonathan has over twenty years’ experience representing people with disabilities to protect their legal and human rights, including precedent-setting cases securing access to critical community-based services.  In 2013, he represented Margaret “Jenny” Hatch in the “Justice for Jenny” case – the first to hold that a person has the right to use Supported Decision-Making to make her own life choices instead of being subjected to a permanent, plenary guardianship. Since then, Jonathan has spoken to and trained thousands of people, families, attorneys, advocates, judges, teachers, health care workers, and other professionals across the country about everyone’s Right to Make Choices and direct their own lives.

Dave Richards
Attorney at Law, Richards Lindsay & Martin, LLP, Austin, Texas

David M. Richards is a graduate of Texas Tech University, and the University of Texas School of Law. He is a partner in the Austin law firm RICHARDS LINDSAY & MARTIN, L.L.P., where his practice is focused on the defense of school districts and special education co-ops. Dave is the General Counsel for the Council of Educators for Students with Disabilities, and is a frequent presenter on special education and §504 at education service centers, school districts, state-wide events, and national conferences throughout the United States. His analysis on education law issues frequently appears in LRP’s publications The Section 504 Compliance Advisor, The Special Educator, and Your School and the Law.

Mary Schillinger photo 100x150 pixelsMary Schillinger
Educational Consultant/ former Assistant Superintendent of Education, Collaboration for Success, Simi Valley, California

Mary Schillinger has been an Assistant Superintendent for Education in Southern California for 10 years. Her career began as a general education teacher and then a special education resource teacher, before she moved into administration as a district program specialist, director of special education, and assistant superintendent of education. Mary has Masters Degrees in Special Education and Educational Administration. Mary has planned the professional development and strategic planning for implementation of the Common Core State Standards for both general education and special education K-12. As an educational consultant, Mary conducts training and gives presentations on a range of topics including alignment of the IEP to new Core State Standards and successful practices in accessing the rigor of Core State Standards for students with disabilities. As part of her work as a consultant and trainer, Mary has trained county teams in a trainer of trainer’s model for best practices in supporting special education students in the rigor of new state standards. Additional training topics include Co-Teaching for Special Education student success, Universal Design for Learning for all in the Core Standards, Essential Standards Implementation, and Building Defensible Programs for Students with Autism.  She has presented at national and state level conferences for the past ten years.

As a member of the faculty of California State University Northridge, Mary teaches courses in the special education teacher preparation and school psychology departments.  She has also authored the LRP publications; The Administrator’s Guide to Building and Maintaining a Comprehensive Autism Program in 2010, Write On, A Guide to Compliant Documentation of Special Education Policies and Procedures in 2012, Common Core and the Special Education Student:  Your Guide to Instructional Shifts and Implementing Services and Supports in 2014, and Successfully Implementing Core Standards for Students with Disabilities:  A Professional Development Guide, in 2015.

Mary can be contacted through her website, as well as through her business, Collaboration for Success at

Rose Spidell
Education Ombuds, Washington State Office of the Governor, Seattle, Washington

Rose Spidell is an Education Ombuds with the Governor’s Office of the Education Ombuds (OEO). At OEO, Rose provides information about laws and policies governing our state’s k-12 public schools, works with families and school districts to resolve disagreements and complaints, and participates in OEO’s parent education training and trainings for educators.

Rose is an attorney by training who worked previously in the area of civil rights, with two years focused exclusively on the rights of public school students, and particularly Native American students, in Washington state. She helped revise and develop a series of know-your-rights guides for students and families, including guides on student discipline, truancy and effective school board advocacy. Rose also co-authored a manual for attorneys working with youth in truancy proceedings. Rose has presented to families, educators and students on a wide range of issues relating to public schools, including discipline, truancy, bullying and harassment and effective family/school partnerships. Rose is a graduate of Colville High School (located in Northeastern Washington state), and earned her undergraduate degree at Whitman College. After college, she spent two years teaching English as a Second Language in Japan where she taught small group classes for students ranging from preschoolers to adults. She earned her law degree at New York University School of Law in 2004.

As an Education Ombuds, Rose enjoys the opportunity to help families understand the public education system and laws that apply to their students, and the chance to work collaboratively with schools and families to resolve disputes and partner effectively to support student achievement.

Mitch Taubman
Actum Clinical and Behavioral Services, Calabasas, California

Mitchell Taubman worked with Dr. Lovaas as an undergraduate at UCLA in the early 1970s. He treated children with autism, ADHD and other disorders. He then attended the University of Kansas, studying with such founders of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as Dr. Donald Baer, Dr. Todd Risely, Dr. James Sherman, and his doctoral advisor, Dr. Montrose Wolf.

After completing his Ph.D., Dr. Taubman returned to UCLA and served as adjunct assistant professor of psychology and as co-principal investigator with Dr. Lovaas on a federal grant directed at autism treatment. One of his special interests in Teaching Interactions which he brought from the Kansas model to autism treatment. After his post-doctoral work, Dr. Taubman obtained his license as a clinical psychologist and served as clinical director of Straight Talk, a program providing residential and day treatment services to adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. He currently serves as Director of Autism Partnership, where he provides treatment ovesight, training and consultation around the world. Dr. Taubman is the co-author of It’s Time for School! Building Quality ABA Educational Programs For Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders and Sense And Nonsense In The Behavioral Treatment of Autism: It Has To Be Said and Crafting Connections: Contemporary Applied Behavior Analysis for Enriching the Social Lives of Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Jan Tomsky
Attorney at Law, Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, Oakland, California

A nationally recognized leader in special education law, Ms. Tomsky has represented school district clients in mediations and due process hearings, as well as in special education-related litigation in both state and federal courts and in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Her expertise in special education matters has helped scores of districts to address issues and resolve disputes in this specialized field. Additionally, Ms. Tomsky has assisted districts in countless student expulsion hearings, particularly those that involve complex or sensitive issues, and has successfully defended districts’ decisions on appeal to county boards and in court.

Ms. Tomsky presents at state and regional conferences throughout the country, but most enjoys designing and delivering workshops for individual districts, which are specifically tailored to address their unique needs. Ms. Tomsky is the author of Personal Liability for IDEA Violations: Where the Courts Stand, and was a contributing author to The Administrator’s Guide to Building and Maintaining a Comprehensive Autism Program and IDEA Due Process Survival Guide, all of which are LRP publications.

Julie Weatherly
Attorney at Law, owner, Resolutions in Special Education, Inc., Mobile, Alabama

Julie J. Weatherly, Esq. is the owner of Resolutions in Special Education, Inc. with attorneys in Birmingham and Mobile, Alabama and in Naples, Florida.  Julie is a member of the State Bars of Alabama and Georgia, and for over thirty years, she has provided legal representation and consultation services to school agencies in the area of educating students with disabilities.  In June of 1996, Julie appeared with Leslie Stahl on CBS news program “60 Minutes” to discuss the cost of meeting the legal requirements of the IDEA.  She has been a member of the faculty for many national and state legal institutes and is a frequent speaker at special education law conferences.  Julie has developed a number of videotape training series on special education law and has been published nationally as a part of her trainings, workshops and seminars.  She is the author of the legal update article for the National CASE quarterly newsletter and is a member of LRP’s Special Education Attorneys Advisory Council.   In 1998, Julie was honored by Georgia’s Council for Exceptional Children as Georgia’s Individual who had Contributed Most to Students with Disabilities and, in April 2012, Julie received the National Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE) Award for Outstanding Service.

Diane Wiscarson 100x150 pixelsDiane F. Wiscarson,
Attorney at Law, Wiscarson Law, Portland, Oregon

Diane represents students and their families in education matters, with a particular focus on special education law. Having experienced the sometimes difficult IEP process first-hand as a parent, Diane has a unique parent perspective on how to navigate the IEP maze, as well as recognized legal expertise. Since founding Wiscarson Law almost 20 years ago, Diane actively represents families throughout Oregon and Washington. Diane is a member of the Counsel of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, and has served on the Dispute Resolution Committee for the Oregon Department of education for a decade. Additionally, Diane serves on numerous boards and committees related to special education interests, and is a frequent presenter at local, state, regional and national meetings and conferences.