Arkansas Association of Women Lawyers (AAWL)
Join Us for AAWL's March meeting!
What's the Big I.D.E.A.
Understanding the Current Climate of the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Speaker: Dana McClain
Dana McClain graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a degree in criminal justice and psychology in 1997 and attended the William H. Bowen School of law and received a Juris Doctorate in 2000. She became licensed to practice law in 2001 and worked for a year as the Appellate attorney for Department of Human Services Office of Chief Counsel where much of her time was spent in front of the Arkansas Supreme Court and Arkansas Court of Appeals fighting for the rights of children. She was the senior staff attorney with the Disability Rights Center (DRC) for 10 years. Again, much of her time at DRC was devoted to children with special needs and their families. Dana directed special education cases and spent 3 years as the lead attorney on DRC’s monitoring activities in Arkansas’s Juvenile Justice System. She helped develop Arkansas’s 5 year plan for juvenile justice reform and sat on the DYS oversight committee. She serves on CASSP and sits on the executive and legislative committees, the DYS task force and was part of the original group who drafted and pushed legislation to begin the System of Care reform for children’s mental health in Arkansas. She helped develop a parent support website with DRC and other stakeholders in Arkansas (Arkansas Parent Information Exchange ARPIE). Dana, along with advocates working closely with her, was responsible for bringing the US DOJ into Arkansas to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect in Arkansas human development centers and most recently Dana and advocates at DRC took on abuse and neglect at the Arkansas State Hospital. She worked with advocates at DRC to close the dually diagnosed unit for adolescents at ASH and assisted in those children being returned to the community with appropriate services. She has argued cases in front of the Arkansas Court of Appeals, Arkansas Supreme Court and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Dana recently left her job with DRC to start her own Consulting and Training firm. She currently consults with Walmart and Arkansas Children’s Hospital on their medical legal partnership. She continues to be a vigilant advocate for individuals with disabilities in all areas, but particularly in the areas of juvenile justice, developmental disabilities, education and mental health, housing and prisons.
She is a parent of a young woman who was born with Down Syndrome, a heart defect and most recently been diagnosed with agoraphobia. She has spoken at both State and National Conferences and has trained parents, educators, advocates, attorneys, legislators and juvenile judges in the areas of special education law, appellate laws and juvenile law. Special education issues are her passion, both from the perspective of a parent and an attorney. She understands parent’s victories and frustration and believes that with cooperation, dedication and a positive attitude ALL children can be successful.
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