's membership is about 1200, including approximately 500 attorneys, with the remainder being parents and lay advocates.
She served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates in 2007-08 and co-coordinated COPAA
's Congressional Affairs Program from 2004 through 2009.
"There is a wide range of individuals who practice special education advocacy in a wide range of circumstances," says Denise Marshall, Executive Director of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), a non-profit group based in Towson, Md.
In its ongoing efforts to define and regulate the practice, COPAA has collaborated with the University of Southern California and Children's Hospital of Los Angeles University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.
Until there is an established certification process--and, someday, regulations and oversight--governing special education advocates, there are two excellent sources for common-sense advice on how to choose an experienced, well-trained advocate: The COPAA web site (www.copaa.org) offers "Guidelines for Choosing a Special Education Advocate").
COPAA's organizational focus is demonstrated in the following objectives.
I experienced the benefits of COPAA first-hand by attending its March, 2007 annual conference in Baltimore, Maryland along with several hundred other parents, advocates, and attorneys.
The COPAA conference gave me the opportunity to meet and talk with the parents, advocates, and lawyers who are working in the trenches around the country to make IDEA more responsive to the needs of its recipients.
I left the COPAA annual conference feeling rejuvenated about the commitment that parents and their lawyers and advocates have in maximizing parent participation in the IEP process and in making IDEA work more effectively for families.
COPAA's on-going activities are equally important to families.