Diane M. Willis is Senior Counsel in the San Diego office. Her practice primarily focuses on special education, general education issues, and matters involving charter schools, including special education, MOUs, and oversight. Ms. Willis has successfully represented school districts in all phases of special education disputes including resolution meetings, mediations, administrative hearings, and federal court appeals of special education decisions.
Ms. Willis' expertise in special education over the past 14 years has led to numerous special education decisions in favor of the school districts she represents. Ms. Willis has successfully completed fifteen due process cases in which the school district prevailed on all issues presented for hearing in the vast majority of cases. Ms. Willis represents school districts and SELPAs in all phases of special education including IEP team meetings, resolution meetings, mediations, and due process hearings. Ms. Willis assists school districts in planning and programming decisions to meet a student's unique educational needs in a manner that conforms to the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and has attained in depth knowledge of what is needed in an IEP to meet those requirements. She also represents school districts during Office for Civil Rights investigations and California Department of Education compliance complaint investigations. In addition Ms. Willis has represented districts at expulsion hearings, conducted Title V investigations, and prepared summary reports.
Ms. Willis has presented at the ACSA Special Education Symposium on topics such as conducting appropriate assessments, developing procedurally and substantively appropriate IEPs, and planning for IEP team meetings. Additionally Ms. Willis has been a key speaker at Lozano Smith's Special Education Legal Consortium (SELC) for several years. At the school site level Ms. Willis conducts special education workshops on a variety of topics, including discipline, manifestation determinations, how to conduct IEP meetings, developing appropriate IEPs, and conducting case analysis before hearing (knowing when to hold and when to fold).
Ms. Willis received her Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego School of law in 1998. Ms. Willis was admitted to the California Bar in 1999 and is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court, Southern and Central Districts. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of West Florida in 1977 and attended Georgetown University. Ms. Willis also worked on a masters degree in clinical psychology at San Diego State University, completing all coursework, including neuropsychology, analytical statistics, and experimental design.
In A.G. v. Paradise Valley Unified School District, (9th Cir., March 3, 2016) 2016 U.S. App. Lexis 3994. (A.G.), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a student asserted valid claims for damages under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the ADA (ADA) and reversed a lower court's dismissal of claims. The Court found that the facts demonstrated that the school district (PVUSD) may have denied the student meaningful access to educational benefit...
In Brason Lee v. Natomas Unified School District (February 25, 2015), 2015 U.S. Dist. Lexis 24253, the court determined that a school district may have unlawfully retaliated against a parent for advocating on his daughter's behalf regarding special education services by filing temporary restraining orders (TROs) against the parent.
This case started out as a dispute between the parent and the District regarding the school's psycho-educational assessment of the stud...