Attorney Bios

Wayne D. Steedman

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Wayne D. Steedman is a senior partner with The Steedman Law Group, with over thirty years experience as a special education attorney.  He began solo practice in 1991 and was a founding partner of the law firm Callegary & Steedman, where he practiced for over 18 years.  Wayne’s practice is devoted primarily to the representation of children with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504, as well as children and adults seeking accommodations, supports, and equal access to standardized testing or post-graduate education and examinations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Wayne has represented clients in administrative due process hearings, Maryland state courts, Federal District Court and the Third and Fourth Circuit Courts of Appeals. He is also admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Steedman earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Law. In addition to his law degree, Wayne holds a Master’s of Social Work from University of Maryland’s School of Social Work. Prior to practicing law, he was in charge of the clinical treatment program and admissions at the Forbush School at Sheppard Pratt Hospital, where he worked with children with emotional disabilities for more than twenty years. He served for approximately ten years as a Due Process Hearing Officer in special education cases in Maryland. He has been engaged as a nationally-known speaker on numerous topics related to special education law through Wrightslaw, [www.wrightslaw.com], and offers both training for new attorneys and presentations for parents and advocates through COPAA, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates [http://www.copaa.org], as well as through local schools and advocacy organizations. He is on the Boards of Directors for the Arc of Northern Chesapeake, [www.arcncr.org]  which supports residential programming and employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and Family and Children’s Services of Central Maryland, [www.fcsmd.org], which provides trauma counseling, senior services, housing, case management and more advocacy for families throughout the central Maryland region. He is also the founder and facilitator of MDSEL, the Maryland Special Education Lawyers’ group, which offers collaboration, support, and mentoring among special education attorneys in the state.

In one of his earliest federal cases, Gerstmyer v. Howard County Public Schools, 850 F. Supp. 361 (D. Md. 1994), Mr. Steedman persuaded the U.S. District Court that the school district should reimburse parents for the costs of a Montessori School program, after their child was denied FAPE by the public school system. Thus, the Judge found that even a placement which was not a traditional special education school could be deemed appropriate for a student with disabilities. Although Mr. Steedman is able to collaborate with school systems to obtain the services and placement a child needs in most cases, he has also achieved numerous victories for parents seeking funding of appropriate educational placements for their children through litigation. Notable decisions include C.S. v. Baltimore City Public School System, (funding of a Utah Residential Program); J.F. v. Harford County Public Schools, (funding of placement at the Baltimore Lab School); P.B. v. Baltimore City Public School System, (funding of placement at the Delrey School), M.R. v. Carroll County Public Schools, (funding of placement at the Delrey School), N.A. v. Montgomery County Public Schools, (funding of an Independent Educational Evaluation), and a recent U.S. District Court decision, S.S. v. Harford County Public Schools, (retroactive reimbursement and prospective funding for placement at the Trellis School) which cited Wayne’s earlier Gerstmyer case to support a finding that a delay in assessment directly impacted the provision of a free, appropriate public education. Wayne has also successfully negotiated numerous favorable settlement agreements with local school systems throughout the state.


Cheryl A. Steele Steedman

csteedmanCheryl A. Steele Steedman is the managing partner of the Steedman Law Group, and has been practicing special education law with her husband, Wayne, since 2012.  Prior to admission to the bar, she served as a paralegal in special education law cases for over ten years, advocating in IEP meetings and assisting with due process hearings in multiple school districts throughout the state. Cheryl’s focus has been guiding and educating parents as they navigate the IEP and 504 processes for their children, and balancing collaborative advocacy, negotiation through mediation and resolution, and assertion of student rights through due process. Cheryl has completed Child Counsel Training through the Maryland Judiciary’s Department of Family Administration, is a member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and Maryland Special Education Lawyers (MDSEL), and has co-presented informational sessions and webinars on the IDEA, IEP strategies, and functional behavior assessments and behavioral intervention plans. She is proud to join Wayne in support and volunteer work for the Arc of Northern Chesapeake and for Family & Children’s Services, as well as other community organizations.

Ms. Steele Steedman received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Law.  In 1991, she was awarded Maryland Public Interest Law Project grant to serve as an intern for the Maryland Disability Law Center (now Disability Rights Maryland), and she represented children in special education and custody cases, as well as CINA proceedings in the University of Maryland Law School’s Juvenile Law Clinic. She was also honored to earn the American Jurisprudence Award for her course work in family law and mediation.

Before pursuing her legal education and career, Cheryl earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology at the University of Maryland in College Park, focusing on child development and children’s mental health. She worked for several years as a milieu therapist at Villa Maria, a residential treatment center for children with emotional disabilities and special education needs, where she developed and implemented behavioral incentive plans and supports, piloted a new facility-wide service model, and co-sponsored an art therapy group. Cheryl also has extensive personal experience as a parent advocating for a child with learning differences. She is the proud mother of two wonderful and successful young adults.

Cheryl has served as co-counsel in several due process hearings and federal court cases, including the 2020 U.S. District Court of Maryland case, S.S. v. Harford County Public Schools, where Judge Richard Bennett reversed an Office of Administrative Hearing decision and found that, inter alia, the school system’s failure to timely conduct a Functional Behavioral Assessment and develop a Behavior Intervention Plan, failure to demonstrate progress appropriate in light of the child’s unique circumstances (applying the U.S. Supreme Court’s standard from Endrew F.), and failure to document adequate hours of specialized instruction on the IEP resulted in a denial of FAPE and entitled the parents to reimbursement for multiple years of tuition to a non-public special education program.

Cheryl is admitted to practice in the Court of Appeals for Maryland, the United States District Court for Maryland, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

 


 


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