From Theory to Practice: Supported Decision-Making in Education

Date: Wednesday, May 25, 2016
For children and young adults with disabilities, special education provides a unique opportunity to gain self determination and independent living skills. In fact, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) charges schools to prepare students to lead independent lives. Even so, recent studies have found that educational professionals are the most common source of referrals for guardianship. This webinar will feature attorneys and advocates who have worked to include Supported Decision-Making and self-determination into school curriculums. They will tell stories of triumph and struggle that are applicable to professionals across the country.

Presentation Handout (PDF) – Laura Butler – Kentucky
Presentation Handout (PDF) – Morgan Whitlach – DC
Supported Decision-Making and Education unedited Transcript
Supported Decision-Making and Education Video Recording

Morgan K. Whitlatch, Legal Director at Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities
Laura Smith Butler, Research Policy Administrator, National Core Indicators at the Human Development Institute, University of Kentucky

Michael Morris is the Executive Director of the Burton Blatt Institute and the Executive Director of the National Disability Institute (NDI). Michael has over 25 years of experience in research, knowledge translation, and system change activities advancing community participation and economic self-sufficiency for individuals across the full spectrum of disabilities. Morris’s undergraduate degree, political science with honors, is from Case Western University, and his law degree is from Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, GA. In 1981, Morris was named the first Joseph P. Kennedy Fellow in Public Policy and worked for Connecticut Senator Lowell Weicker as legal counsel to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Handicapped. He next served as counsel to the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee. Morris then worked at United Cerebral Palsy Associations as Director of Government Relations, then Director of Community Services, and finally National Executive Director. During his 14-year tenure, his leadership put focus on assistive technology’s role in employment, education, communications and daily living. Morris’ proposal for policy development led to passage by Congress of the Assistive Technology Act.

Morgan K. Whitlatch is the Legal Director at Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities and Project Director of the National Resource Center of Supported Decision-Making. She has dedicated her legal career to working with and on behalf of people with disabilities in matters involving capacity and the right to self-determination; community integration; living life free from abuse and neglect; and accessing public benefits and services. Morgan has extensive experience in implementing systemic policy, practice, and training initiatives, including those of the National Resource Center on Supported Decision-Making and the Jenny Hatch Justice Project (JHJP), which are dedicated to advancing the “Right to Make Choices” of people who live with disabilities or who are elderly. Notably, Morgan co-represented the JHJP namesake in fighting for her right to engage in Supported Decision-Making as an alternative to permanent plenary guardianship. Prior to joining Quality Trust in 2009, Morgan was an attorney at the Rhode Island Disability Law Center, which is the state’s protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities. Morgan graduated with honors from Georgetown University Law Center, and with honors, Phi Beta Kappa, from Wesleyan University.

Laura Smith Butler is the Research Policy Administrator of National Core Indicators at the Human Development Institute, University of Kentucky. Laura has a BA in Healthcare Administration from Midway College and a Masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Kentucky. She has worked with people with disabilities in various capacities for over 20 years. Currently, she works at the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute. There she is involved with three projects- the National Core Indicators, Supported Decision-Making, and the Quality of Life survey project.