Jennifer Baldassari is Senior Counsel in Lozano Smith's Walnut Creek office. She represents public school districts, county offices of education and special education local plan areas, focusing on various aspects of education law with a concentration on student issues and special education. Ms. Baldassari works to proactively develop preventive practices to help avoid costly disputes, including reviewing current policies, practices, and procedures for systemic issues and legal compliance.
Ms. Baldassari has represented school districts in Civil Rights Litigation before California administrative courts in issues regarding Americans with Disabilities Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. She has represented school districts at IEP meetings, resolution sessions, mediation, due process hearings, and OCR investigations as well as presented on various special education topics across the state. While attending undergraduate school she gained hands-on experience in the classroom employed as a teacher's aide and was able to focus on her writing skills as a summer associate with the California Department of Education Legal Office while attending law school.
Ms. Baldassari received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, where she was awarded Pro Bono Honors in 2011-2012. While in law school, she also worked as a Graduate Student Assistant, Judicial Extern and Certified Legal intern where she gained invaluable experience in multiple areas of the law including education, special education and civil litigation. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Davis, where she graduated with a degree in Managerial Economics and Statistics and received Honors Internship recognition in Education.
A recent Ninth Circuit decision, L.J. v. Pittsburg Unified School District (9th Cir., Sept. 1, 2016, No. 14-16139) __ F.3d __ [2016 U.S.App. LEXIS 16201], underscores the importance of accounting for pre-referral interventions when evaluating special education eligibility. Rejecting the assertion that specific pre-referral services were general education interventions, the Ninth Circuit held the student required and benefitted from specialized services and should ...
In October 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law five new bills that all go into effect January 1, 2016, enacting important changes to the Education Code on issues affecting student rights and services. These bills address mandatory training for school counselors, classification of competition cheerleading as a sport, additions to the Safe Place to Learn Act, guidance regarding child abuse and training, and an expansion of the Uniform Complaint Procedures to c...
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has warned districts that an award to parents in a due process hearing which may cost a district less than what it offered in its ten-day statutory offer does not necessarily protect the district from an attorneys' fee demand. (T.B./Wyner v. San Diego Unified School District (9th Cir. 2015) 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 13365.) The Ninth Circuit made it clear the value of a settlement offer is about more than money.
In the recent case of...