Susan C. Freedman

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Susan Freedman is a member of the School Law Practice Group. She represents school boards and independent schools with regard to education matters, the Americans with Disabilities Act and general litigation, including special education, at the administrative level and in state and federal courts. In her practice, Susan calls upon her 14 years of experience as a teacher.

She is a frequent speaker on education matters for CABE, CONN-CASE, the Connecticut Bar Association and other groups, and is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Connecticut.

Susan clerked for The Honorable John H. Pratt for the United States District Court District of Columbia. 

Distinctions

  • AV Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers; 2011-2012
  • James W. Cooper Fellow, Connecticut Bar Association
  • Listed as a Connecticut Super Lawyer®: Schools & Education; 2006

Teaching Positions

  • University of Connecticut, Adjunct Professor

Professional Affiliations

  • American Bar Association
  • Connecticut Bar Association
  • Hartford County Bar Association
  • District of Columbia Bar Association
  • National Association of School Board Attorneys
  • Connecticut School Board Attorneys Council
  • Hartford Association of Women Attorneys
  • Education Law Committee

Connecticut Board of Education Awarded Attorneys’ Fees by Federal Court in IDEA Case

In the first decision in Connecticut, and one of the only decisions in the country, a federal judge recently awarded a Connecticut school district attorneys’ fees under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”). The case, E.K. by and through his Parents and Next of Friends, Mr. and Mrs. K. v. Stamford Board of Education, No. 07cv800 (Mar. 31, 2009), stemmed from a student’s challenge to his expulsion for making racial threats toward another student. In the spring of 2007, the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut denied the student’s request for a preliminary injunction to require the district to readmit the student to his high school and allow him to participate in graduation ceremonies. After this denial, the student, through his attorney, essentially ignored the prosecution of his IDEA claim -- although he did not officially withdraw the claim for several months -- but maintained his other claims, due process and constitutional vagueness. The district moved for summary judgment; the student opposed this motion and filed his own motion for summary judgment.

In May 2008, the District Court granted the school district’s motion for summary judgment and, thereafter, the district filed with the District Court a request for attorneys’ fees against the student’s attorney. Specifically, the school district claimed that the attorney had pursued the claim under the IDEA after he knew the claim to be frivolous, and that he did so to harass or increase the cost of litigation. The Magistrate Judge, in granting the school district its attorneys’ fees, found that the school district was the prevailing party in the underlying litigation, because the District Court had granted the district’s motion for summary judgment in its entirety, and further found that the plaintiff’s attorney had continued to litigate the IDEA claims after he knew that the litigation had become frivolous. According to the decision, “after the Court denied injunctive relief . . . , plaintiff was clearly on notice of the deficiencies of his IDEA claim.” E.K., No. 07cv800 at *14. The plaintiffs’ attorney has since filed an objection to the Magistrate Judge’s ruling.

Private Placement Decision Upheld on Two Appeals

Plaintiff sued the West Hartford, Connecticut Board of Education for funding of a residential placement for plaintiff's son in order to receive an appropriate education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). At the administrative hearing, the Hearing Officer found for the Board, holding that the Board's offer of a program in the high school the student would otherwise attend with special education and regular education services was an appropriate program for the student in the least restrictive environment. The plaintiff appealed the hearing officer's decision to the United States District Court of Connecticut in which the decision for the Board of Education was upheld. The plaintiff sought judgment in the United States 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld the lower courts' rulings. A.S. v. Board of Education of West Hartford, 35 IDELR 179 (D. Conn 2001) 2d Cir. 2002.

Events

January 14, 2014  Hartford - Peanuts, Concussions and Extracurriculars: Exploring the Landscape of Section 504
March 11, 2013  Assessing School Risk: Tools for Responding to Student Conduct
April 26, 2012  Handling Special Education Challenges
November 18 - 19, 2011  2011 Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE)/Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) Convention
November 18, 2011  Sate Department of Education Bureau of Special Education Meeting
November 4, 2011  Cooperative Educational Services - New Administrators Induction Program - IDEA Best Practices
October 22, 2011  CBA - Truancy Project: Legal Aspects of Truancy
August 31, 2011  Presentation on Bullying - Portland Public Schools
August 25, 2011  Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS): Participation of Athletes with Disabilities in Team Sports
June 27, 2011  UCAPP Seminar for Administrators: Special Education and Section 504
May 6, 2011  Presentation to CONNCase: Hot Topics in Special Education
April 5, 2011  Student Privacy and School Communications - Hartford, CT
December 3, 2010  CES "Legal Framework for IDEA Decision Making; L.D. Guidelines, Best Practices on IEP Writing: PPT Meetings" for Administrators
October 23, 2010  CBA - Truancy Intervention Project: "Legal Issues in Truancy Intervention"
October 16, 2010  CBA - Truancy Intervention Project: "Legal Issues in Truancy Intervention"
October 8, 2010  CAS - IDEA Requirements for New Administrators
September 24, 2010  ASD - Confidentiality Issues for Students and Staff
June 28, 2010  UCAPP Special Education Institute: Hot Topics in Special Education for New Administrators
June 2, 2010  CASP - The Role of the Psychologist in Special Education
October 14, 2008  Section 504: Providing Regular Education Accommodations to Students With Disabilities
May 9, 2007  IDEA 2004 Regulations and Implications for Students Ages 5-21
October 24, 2006  Special Education: The Law, the Process and new IDEA Part B Regulations
September 19, 2006  Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): An Updated Practical Guide For The IEP/PPT Team Administrator
August 29. 2006  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
February 6-7, 2006  Identify and Testing Students with Disabilities
January 26, 2006  The New IEP in Connecticut
January 18, 2006  Helping all students to learn …
December 2, 2005  Understanding the Laws, Liabilities and Responsibilities in Special Education Practice
November 30, 2005  IDEA Reauthorization 2004
August 25, 2005  Introduction to Special Education, IDEA
June 1, 2005  Conn. Association of School Psychologists: "IDEA Reauthorization, The Role of the Psychologist"
April 29, 2005  Discipline, Reference Letters in Independent Schools
April 15, 2005  Connecticut Association of Independent Schools: "Legal Issues in Independent Schools"
March 29, 2005  Legal Implications of IDEA 2004
March 24, 2005  Confidentiality of Student Records
March 3, 2005  IDEA Reauthorization 2004
February 7, 2005  Legal Issues in Section 504 and SSD Eligibility
February 3, 2005  Section 504 and IDEA
January 24, 2005  Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement (IDEA) Reauthorization 2004
January 21, 2005  IDEA Reauthorization 2004
January 20, 2005  Legal Update of Laws and 504 Issues
January 18, 2005  Legal Update: Hot Issues in Special Education
October 15, 2004  Connecticut Bar Association: "The Role of the Court and Schools in Discipline"
December 24, 2003  Law Talk on Radio 1080

Practice Areas

Education

  • George Washington University Law School, J.D., 1989, high honors, Order of the Coif

  • University of Connecticut,
    M.A., 1975, with honors
    B.A., 1971, with honors

Bar Admissions

  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, District of CT
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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