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Karen Norlander: Recipient of the
Friend of Special Education Award 

New York Council of Administrators of Special Education (NYCASE)
Co-Presidents Dr. Heidi McCarthy and
Ms. Margaret Schlegel awarded Karen Norlander the 2017 Friend ofSpecial Education Award. She was honored in Saratoga Springs recently at the organization’s Summer Institute.

The New York Council of
Administrators of Special Education (NYCASE) has established the "Friend of Special Education" Award to recognize the lifetime achievement of an individual who has advocated for the needs of students with disabilities and their families by influencing the development of policy or legislation.

Dr. McCarthy spoke to those attending the Summer Institute about the many accomplishments and dedication Karen Norlander has demonstrated in her service to others. She is recognized as one of our State’s leading authorities on special education law. Through the years, Karen has helped shape the law and practice in that field, with key cases, guidance and insight.  With her career spanning over 30 years, Karen is still leading the way for schools, advocates and attorneys in all things IDEA. Her knowledge, compassion and dedication to the field of Special Education is immeasurable.

Colleagues expressed how Karen’s work has influenced the law and practices in Special Education. They also spoke of Karen’s compassionate service to others. Prior to her current work as an attorney with the Albany law firm of Girvin and Ferlazzo, she was a managing attorney for the New York State Education Department. During her time at the Department she led the way in the non-confrontational dispute resolution process. Her leadership resulted is many successes under the most challenging circumstances. Karen has worked with numerous school districts, school administrators and parents offering support and guidance in meeting new expectations and fostering win-win resolutions for all involved. Her success may have stemmed from Karen’s first profession as social worker and advocate for individuals with disabilities. When the Education for all Handicapped Children’s Act came to fruition Karen began law school and continued her work on behalf of individuals with disabilities. Over 30 years later Karen truly remains a “Friend of Special Education”.


Oceanside Special Education Director Named

Administrator of the Year

This July, the New York Council of Administrators of Special Education, or NYCASE, has named Debra Kienke, the Oceanside School District’s director of special education, as 2017’s Special Education Administrator of the Year. Kienke was selected for the honor out of a pool of special education administrators from across New York State, according to a release. “There is no question that she is perceived as a leader among leaders,” school Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Harrington, who nominated Kienke for the award, said.

“Deb has established a high level of trust and respect with a wide variety of constituents. Her strong interpersonal skills and vast knowledge and expertise regarding special education at all levels add to her success in implementing programs and supports for students with disabilities,” Meg Schlegal, a co-president of NYCASE said in a statement.


Kienke has been credited with creating a vocational lab at the Oceanside Middle School and community-based job sites for high school students with the purpose of preparing students with disabilities for employment after college.


In addition to being named Administrator of the Year, Kienke has served as a president of the Long Island Association of Special Education Administrators, as well as the South Shore Consortium.



The Special Education Administrator according to National CASE:

  • Makes serving and supporting exceptional children and their parents the primary responsibility;

  • Strives to be proficient in current professional practice;
  • Supports study and research guided by the conventions of scholarly inquire;
  • Respects the privacy of students and parents and holds as confidential information in accordance with State/Provincial and Federal laws;
  • Regards colleagues, parents and students with respect, courtesy, fairness, and good faith;
  • Upholds and advances the values, ethics knowledge and mission of the profession;
  • Fosters and supports maximum self-determination and independence on the part of exceptional children;
  • Utilizes impartial professional judgment in evaluating the needs of exceptional children and their parents;
  • Accepts the responsibility to provide meaningful training experiences to colleagues, general educators, and the public;
  • Promotes the general welfare of exceptional children.





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