Representative Matters


Education Law

Education Law includes:

  • Litigation and Appeals
  • Administrative Proceedings
  • Special Needs Trusts
  • Special Education
  • Student Discipline Issues

Our lawyers are active in Special Education law practice throughout New York State. We represent both School Districts and parents with disabled children in the full spectrum of disability education law related issues. Our focus is on assisting the parties in developing a solid working relationship culminating in the successful education of disabled students.

It is our goal to:

  • Foster a spirit of cooperation, even between legal adversaries, by keeping our District clients informed of their legal obligations and rights while maintaining positive relationships with the community, its taxpayers, parents, students, and employees.
  • Inform our family clients on all rights and educational entitlements.
  • Bridge the communication gap that frequently exists between school district representatives and families, allowing the school district to provide an appropriate, beneficial education.
  • Individualize education: We have attended hundreds of Committee on Special Education meetings assisting the parties in developing appropriate Individualized Education Programs (IEP). We draft the descriptive portions of an IEP, crafting explicit measurable goals and objectives. Successful negotiations have been the hallmark of our practice.
  • Negotiate an acceptable resolution, and if one cannot be negotiated, we have been successful in administrative hearings, administrative appeals, judicial trials and appeals, as well as obtaining injunctive relief from the United States District Court.
  • Provide day-to-day guidance to school districts. We have performed audits of school districts’ special education due process procedures to ensure conformity with federal and state regulations, conducted training workshops and workshops for school district personnel on a variety of subjects, and drafted school policies and procedures, including all student matters, especially student discipline and Superintendents’ hearings. We also have experience with teacher discipline, Section 3020a.

We have litigated such issues as inclusion, least restrictive environment, classification, program, placement, related services, specialized equipment, transportation, tuition reimbursement, transition services, compensatory education, bi-lingual education, attorneys’ fees and Section 504 discrimination issues. We have been involved in many student discipline and “nexus” cases, including Superintendent hearings and appeals therefrom to the Commissioner of Education.

Finally, our practice is expanding to meet the needs of our long-time family clients who age out of special education protection. The firm assists clients with long-term planning, including creation of Supplemental Needs Trusts, counseling to the families on available benefits and services, and seeking, when necessary, partial or full guardianship for a disabled family member.

Kenneth Ritzenberg heads the education law practice. In addition to the experience described above, Mr. Ritzenberg has presented on topics involving all aspects of education practice, including a seminars on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act and presentations on discrimination and civil rights. He is the founder of and primary presenter at the Special Education Breakfast Group, a monthly training session on special education issues.

The following Young/Sommer attorneys represent clients in this practice area.

Kenneth S. RitzenbergKenneth S. Ritzenberg

Kenneth S. Ritzenberg maintains an extensive education law practice. His primary focus is special education, and he has represented over 20 school districts and hundreds of families in administrative proceedings and in federal court throughout New York State. He is the founder of the Capital District Special Education Breakfast Group.


Robert A. PanasciRobert A. Panasci

Robert A. Panasci is a partner with Young/Sommer LLC and has been practicing real property law, municipal law, environmental law and special education law since 2002. His legal practice includes representation of corporate and individual clients in all aspects of real estate matters.


Allyson M. PhillipsAllyson M. Phillips

Allyson M. Phillips received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Fordham University and is a 2006 graduate of Albany Law School. While at Albany Law, Allyson served as Associate Editor for the Albany Law Journal of Science and Technology and was a research assistant for the Dean of the Albany Law School Government Law Center, Patricia E. Salkin.


Kristin Laviolette PrattKristin Laviolette Pratt

Kristin Laviolette Pratt (Associate) has been practicing environmental law, commercial litigation, and real property law at Young/Sommer LLC since 2005. Kristin has represented both corporate and individual clients before the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in negotiating regulatory proceedings as well as before local government boards.


Hardison v. Board of Education of the Oneonta City School District, 773 F3d 372 (2d Cir. 2014)

The firm successfully represented the Oneonta City School District (the “District”) before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (“Second Circuit”) in a tuition reimbursement case… Read More