923 Saw Mill River Road, PMB No. 277 • Ardsley, NY 10502
Admitted to practice in New York, Massachusetts and D.C.
United States Supreme Court, May 2003
U.S. District Court, S.D.N.Y., February 2003
U.S. District Court, E.D.N.Y., February 2006
Fluent in Spanish
Expert in special education law and accomplished litigator with 15 years experience advocating for children. Represented the nation’s largest school district, as well as hundreds of parents of children with disabilities. Currently serve as the Chief Hearing Officer and primary mediator for the District of Columbia’s Special Education Due Process Hearing System, and as a trainer for special education hearing officers in New York State.
Presided over more than 200 administrative cases regarding the provision of special education and services to students with disabilities pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Litigated hundreds of special education cases at the administrative and federal court levels.
Recovered more than 10 million dollars of private, special education tuition costs for parents of children with disabilities, and also saved the New York City Department of Education millions of dollars in potential liability.
Featured speaker in nationally recognized conferences on legal issues of educating individuals with disabilities.
DEUSDEDI MERCED, P.C., ARDSLEY, NY
Principal, July 2008 – Present
Serve as the Chief Hearing Officer for the District of Columbia’s Special Education Due Process Hearing System. Monitor and supervise the timelines and quality of the special education hearing process and decisions through the provision of training, observation, review of decisions and administrative records, and feedback. Provide and coordinate continuing education programs and services for Hearing Officers, both individually and as a group, including research, technical assistance, compilation and dissemination of information, and advising of changes in the law relative to their duties. Evaluate the performance of individual Hearing Officers over the period of appointment consistent with established performance criteria and standards and, when appropriate, recommend discipline for an individual Hearing Officer who does not meet appropriate standards of conduct and competence in accordance with established directives.
Preside over administrative hearings involving disputes over the provision of special education to students in District of Columbia schools pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Conduct prehearing conferences and issue prehearing orders that often dispose of all or part of each complaint, review expert reports and other documentary evidence for admissibility, decide motions and evidentiary objections, receive expert and lay testimony, and conduct examinations of witnesses. Interpret federal education regulations, research case law, determine remedies and sanctions, and issue decisions with lengthy findings of fact and conclusions of law within ten days of each hearing. Administered more than 200 cases in the past 23 months.
Multi-service consultant on issues relating to children with special needs. Functions to provide agencies with consulting services and/or legal advice on all matters related to special education, including, but not limited to, implementing, and complying with, IDEA, Section 504, ADA and NCLB; provide compliance and policy reviews; offer professional development and/or training presentations; and serve as special counsel in impact or class action suits.
LAW OFFICES OF DEUSDEDI MERCED, P.C., NEW YORK, NY
Principal, February 2004 – July 2008
Practice dedicated to all aspects of Education Law, with an emphasis in special education. Managed four associates and three administrative assistants. Lead Counsel in approximately 175 administrative due process (special education) hearings per school year. Recovered approximately 10 million dollars of private special education school tuition costs, as well as the costs of related services, for children with disabilities that were denied appropriate services by their resident school districts. Represented aggrieved clients in appeals to the Office of State Review and Federal Court. Legal counsel to independent schools.
LAW OFFICES OF REGINA SKYER & ASSOCIATES, NEW YORK, NY
Associate, July 2000 – February 2004
Boutique law firm specializing in all aspects of Education Law. Managed and monitored 300+ administrative due process hearings per year. Assisted in increasing client base from 200 to 1200+ within three years. Represented parents of children with disabilities in obtaining appropriate educational services. Handled student disciplinary matters. Legal counsel to independent schools. Assisted independent schools in obtaining New York State approval for the provision of services for children with disabilities.
OFFICE OF LEGAL SERVICES, NYC BOARD OF EDUCATION, BROOKLYN, NY
Attorney, General Practice and Special Education Unit, December 1997 – June 2000
Represented the Agency in federal and state courts and administrative proceedings. Devised litigation and discovery strategies. Prepared expert witness testimony for trial. Prepared deponents for depositions. Made oral arguments on motions. Wrote legal memoranda, motions, and appellate pleadings. Negotiated settlement agreements.
Served as lead counsel in over 30 cases involving private tuition reimbursement claims by parents who placed their children with disabilities in private schools. Successfully litigated administrative hearings saving the Agency millions of dollars in potential liability. Managed and monitored over 200 special education due process hearings per year. Negotiated settlement agreements in hundreds of cases.
Handled employment discrimination issues and claims. Trained attorneys and paralegal staff. Developed and conducted legal workshops for Agency personnel.
OFFICE OF STUDENT SUSPENSION HEARINGS, NYC BOARD OF EDUCATION, NEW YORK, NY
Hearing Officer, February 1996 – November 1997
Presided over formal, due process administrative hearings and issued written decisions for students who were suspended from school and represented by counsel. Made conclusions of law on issues of theft, sexual harassment, rape, assault, vandalism, possession of weapons and controlled substances, and fraud.
ALBANY LAW SCHOOL OF UNION UNIVERSITY, ALBANY, NY
Juris Doctor, May 1995
Dean’s list (three semesters)
Finalist, Senior Prize Trial Competition (civil and criminal), 1994-95
BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY, WALTHAM, MA
Bachelor of Arts, Politics, May 1992
Vice President, Board of Trustees, Ramapo for Children, Inc.,
November 2005 – Present
Member, Board of Trustees, Ramapo for Children, Inc., November 2003 – Present
Member, Advisory Board, The Kathryn A. McDonald Education Advocacy Project
Juvenile Rights Division, The Legal Aid Society, April 2002 – Present
LRP’S NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON LEGAL ISSUES OF EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES
Co-Presenter (with Art Cernosia), Ethically Speaking: A Compendium of Ethical Considerations for Hearing Officers
Pre-Institute Symposium: Hearing Officer Training, May 2011
Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix, Arizona
Co-Presenter (with Art Cernosia), Common Practice Hurdles
Pre-Institute Symposium: Hearing Officer Training, May 2, 2010
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Orlando, Florida
THE ACADEMY FOR IDEA ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES AND HEARING OFFICERS
Presenter, Basic Hearing Procedures and Management, July 2011
Seattle University School of Law, Seattle, Washington
PRACTICING LAW INSTITUTE, NEW YORK, NY
Chair, School Law Institute
May 2011, 2010, 2008, 2007, 2006
Co-Chair, School Law Institute
May 2005, 2004, 2003
Moderator, Ethical Issues in Settlement Negotiations in Special Education Cases
School Law Institute, May 2010
Program Adviser, School Law Institute, May 2009
Faculty, Growing Dominance of Civil Procedure under the IDEA
Faculty, Ethical Issues Affecting Special Education Attorneys and Hearing Officers
Moderator, Special Education Update: Panel Discussion
School Law Institute, May 2006
Moderator, Student Discipline – Extent and Effectiveness of Applicable Law
Faculty, Legal Ethics – Frivolous or Protracted Litigation in Special Education Cases
School Law Institute, May 2005
Faculty, The Truncated Impartial Hearing
School Law Institute, May 2004
Faculty, Special Education Law Primer: Identification, Evaluation and Placement
School Law Institute, January 2002
OFFICE OF THE STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION – WASHINGTON, DC
Presenter, Student Hearing Office – Compensatory Education,
Presenter, Student Hearing Office – Educational Placement: Decoded, January 2011
Presenter, Student Hearing Office – The Decision, January 2011
THE INTERNATIONAL DYSLEXIA ASSOCIATION – NEW YORK BRANCH, NEW YORK, NY
Speaker, IDEA 2004 – A Hearing Officer’s Perspective, June 2009
THE LEGAL AID SOCIETY, VOLUNTEER DIVISION, NEW YORK, NY
Speaker, Special Education Law: A Primer on the IDEA and NYS Education Law
LORMAN EDUCATION SERVICES, NEW YORK, NY
Faculty, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in New York: Defending Your IEP: A Trial Tactic Primer for Educators, June 2000
Adjunct Faculty Member, CUNY School of Law, Civil Procedure Lawyering Seminar, Fall 2001
Mentor, CUNY School of Law, Family Law Lawyering Seminar, Spring 2002
Mentor, CUNY School of Law, Civil Procedure Lawyering Seminar, Fall 2002