Jennifer Baldassari is a Partner in Lozano Smith's Walnut Creek office and co-chair of the firm's Special Education Practice Group. 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 represents 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 also regularly represents her clients at IEP meetings, resolution sessions, mediation, due process hearings, and OCR investigations.
Ms. Baldassari is a frequent speaker on behalf of leading associations, including the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) and the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO). Among others, she regularly conducts presentations on ERMHS assessments, inclusion, mental health and school avoidance. She is a frequent presenter at Lozano Smith's Special Education Legal Consortium.
Ms. Baldassari teaches school law and public policy at Mills College in Oakland, and has served on OAH's Advisory Committee for two years. 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.
While on location at the Association of California School Administrators' (ACSA) 2020 Annual Every Child Counts Symposium (ECC), host Sloan Simmons talked with Lozano Smith attorney and ECC presenter Jennifer Baldassari, and Nathan Moreno, Director of Special Education at Soledad Unified School District (as of July 1, 2020, Director of Special Education at Guadalupe Union School District), regarding student suicide risk assessments, child find, case law, and suicide prevention.
This timely discussion highlights recent legislative changes in the area of suicide prevention, and includes ideas on resources and best practices to consider when addressing the topic of suicide prevention in California school districts. Bonus material recorded during school campus closures provides additional resources for helping students during the present crisis.
In Part 2 of our discussion on school avoidance, Sloan Simmons continues the discussion with Jennifer Baldassari and Susan Bishop about case examples, myths, and best practices.
In Part 1 of our discussion on school avoidance, Sloan Simmons talks with Jennifer Baldassari and Susan Bishop about the challenges districts face in school avoidance issues from both a legal and practical perspective, highlighting the top myths associated with school avoidance along the way.