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Prof. Tulman to Receive National Award

Wednesday, March 02, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Joe Libertelli
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Prof Joe TulmanThe Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, a nonprofit membership organization of attorneys, advocates and parents that serves as a national voice for special education rights, will honor UDC-DCSL Professor Joseph Tulman, MAT '82, Director of the School of Law's Juvenile & Special Education Law Clinic and Took Crowell Institute for At-Risk Youth, with its 2011 Diane Lipton Award for Outstanding Educational Advocacy .

The School of Law is incredible fortunate to benefit from Professor Tulman's legal expertise, creativity and dedication to his clients and students, and congratulates him on this much-deserved award!

Reprinted below is COPAA's press release, taken from its website, announcing the award:

The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) Will Present 2011 Diane Lipton Award for Outstanding Educational Advocacy to Joseph B. Tulman

COPAA is proud to announce that it will present the 2011 Diane Lipton Award for Outstanding Educational Advocacy to Joseph B. Tulman in recognition of his extraordinary contributions as a litigator, teacher, author, consultant, and mentor.

COPAA’s Diane Lipton Award honors the memory of COPAA founding board member Diane Lipton, who spent two decades fighting for the rights of children with disabilities at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF). It is COPAA’s highest award, given to an individual who has made a particularly outstanding contribution to protecting the educational and civil rights of children with disabilities.

Joseph’s career has been one of exemplary, ongoing, selfless public service. He is currently Professor of Law at the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clark School of Law where he serves as director of the Juvenile and Special Education Law Clinic. His work at the clinic began in 1984 where, as a fellow working on his Master’s Degree in teaching, he supervised law students in delinquency cases. For two years after law school Joseph served as Deputy Director of the Equal Justice Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting equal access to justice and creating opportunities for law students and lawyers to serve underrepresented people. From 1981 to 1984 he practiced law privately with a focus on representation of children in delinquency and neglect matters.

From 1988 to 2002 Joseph represented plaintiffs in Evans v. Williams, a class action on behalf of persons with mental retardation. This litigation led to the closing of Forest Haven, a large institution where residents were often abused and rarely if ever received appropriate care. In 2001 Joe’s creative thinking led to a settlement agreement that established and funded a non-profit organization (The Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities) to advance the interests of people with disabilities in Washington D.C. That same year Joseph received the prestigious "Scoutt Award” presented annually to an outstanding legal services lawyer in Washington D.C. Previously the American Bar Association had awarded him the 1996 Livingston Hall Juvenile Justice Award and in 2007 the American Association of Law Schools designated Joe as a Bellow Scholar.

During the course of his juvenile justice and neglect work Joseph learned that large numbers of children in one or both systems had disabilities affecting their ability to learn but were not receiving a free appropriate public education as required by the IDEA. While these children had lawyers to represent their interests in the abuse, neglect, or juvenile proceeding the lawyers were doing little if anything to assure that they receive a FAPE. Necessity being the mother of invention, Joseph and colleagues, at what was then called the Antioch School of Law, designed and offered a nine hour (3 night) course to teach Juvenile defense and abuse and neglect lawyers about the IDEA and Section 504 and how to use these laws to help their clients in school and in court. Joseph and his colleagues eventually wrote a comprehensive manual regarding the use of special education advocacy for children in the delinquency system . As a result of this creative, pioneering effort scores of lawyers were trained and literally thousands of children provided assistance previously unavailable. He also taught judges in the local courts, has served on the faculty of the National Judicial College in Reno, NV, and has also lectured nationwide, including at the COPAA conferences, on the use of special education law to assist children in the juvenile, abuse, and neglect systems.

Joseph’s publications include:

  • "Applying Disability Rights to Equalize Treatment for People with Disabilities in the Delinquency and Criminal systems,” 8 A.B.A. Childrens Rights Litigation Committee 1 (Spring 2006)
  • "Disability and Delinquency: How Failures to Identify, Accommodate, and Serve Youth with Education-Related Disabilities Leads to Their Disproportionate Representation in the Delinquency System”, 3 Whittier J. Child & Fam. Advocacy. 3 (2003)
  • "Enforcing Special Education Law on Behalf of Incarcerated Children: A Blueprint for Deconstruction”, 18 Child. Legal Rights. J. 48 (1998) (with Mary G. Hynes)
  • "The Role of the Probation Officer in Intake: Stories from Before, During and After the Delinquency Initial Hearing, 3 D.C.L. Rev. 235 (1995)
  • "The Best Defense is a Good Offense: Incorporating Special Education Law IntoDelinquency Representation in the Juvenile Law Clinic”, 42 Wash. U.J. Urb. & Contempt L. 223 (1992)
  • "Top Ten Things a Judge in Delinquency or Criminal Court Can Do Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Regarding Young People with education-Related Disabilities Who are Facing Charges.”

Joseph chaired the District of Columbia Juvenile Justice Advisory Group from 2001 to 2003 and remains a member. He serves on the board of the Justice Policy Institute and School Talk, Inc. and advisory boards of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s School-to-Prison Pipeline Reform Project, the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, and the Mid-Atlantic Juvenile Defender Center.

Joseph’s unusually creative legal mind matched is matched only by the depth of his compassion, devotion, and dedication to clients. Joseph has excelled at teaching as much as litigating. Throughout his career he has not only steadfastly refused to accept the status quo but worked tirelessly and creatively to change it for the better. For over 30 years Joseph Tulman has committed his mind and body to practicing law on behalf of people with disabilities, to teaching others how to do the same; mentoring many COPAA members, educating judges, consulting and writing about using special education law to help children in the abuse/neglect/delinquency systems.

The award will be given at COPAA’s Annual Conference on March 5, 2011 at the Westin Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas. Joseph will present a session at this year’s conference entitled ”Special Education Advocacy for Young People in the Adult Criminal System.”


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