Julie Wright Halbert, Esq. has been legislative counsel for the Council of the Great City Schools for over 22 years. In that capacity, she has served as a national education legal and policy specialist, with emphasis on special education. She worked extensively on the reauthorizations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1997 and 2004. She is responsible for drafting numerous technical provisions to the IDEA and providing technical assistance to Congress and the U. S. Department of Education. In 1997 and again in 2005, she testified before the U.S. Department of Education on its proposed regulations on IDEA 2004. Julie has directed each of the Council’s special education strategic review teams, including special education reviews in the Anchorage, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Charleston, Cincinnati, Des Moines, District of Columbia, Guilford County (NC), Memphis, New York City, Richmond, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence and St. Louis. Working with national experts Sue Gamm and Judy Elliott, she has published a Council national white paper on the implementation and development of MTSS, Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports for our nation’s urban school districts.
Julie most recently, January 2017, took the lead working with our cities in the development of the Council’s amicus brief to the Supreme Court of the United States in Endrews v. Douglas County School District, on determining the educational benefit standard due by our districts to students with disabilities when implementing their IEPS. This case is certain to be one of the most important cases since Rowley decided over thirty years ago. She was also the counsel of record for the Council of the Great City Schools’ amicus briefs in the Supreme Court of the United States in (a) Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York v. Tom F., On Behalf of Gilbert F., A Minor Child (2007); (b) Jacob Winkelman, a Minor By and Through His Parents and Legal Guardians, Jeff and Sander Winkelman, et al., v. Parma City School District (2007); (c) Brian Schaffer v. Jerry Weast, Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, et al., (2005); (d) Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District, and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education (2007) and Forest Grove School District v. T.A, (2009). Julie graduated with honors from the University of Maryland and the University of Miami School of Law. She is admitted to practice in the Federal Bar, the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, and the Pennsylvania Bar.
Additionally, for the past year, together with Husch Blackwell partner John Borkowski, Julie is assisting to develop and implement national legal webinars for urban district’s counsel and key staff on emerging legal issues for the Council’s districts. They include, Civil Rights Priorities at the End of One Administration and Beginning of Another, Hate Speech, Microaggressions and Student First Amendment Rights.