A Special Education Law Practice
What is special education law? This is a common question that attorneys and non-attorneys alike ask. In a nutshell, special education law refers to federal law composed of statutes, their implementing regulations, state law and regulations, and case law. The main federal statute involved in special education law is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The IDEA grants qualifying students with disabilities the right to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Provision of FAPE may involve specialized instruction and/or supplementary aides and supports for your child at public expense. Anti-discrimination laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) also protect the rights of students with disabilities to be included and receive accommodations in educational settings.
Vinson Saint Jean Law Mission:
To equip students with disabilities with the tools necessary to prepare them for success in education, employment, and independent living using abilities focused ideas and strategies grounded in the law.
Noelle Vinson Saint Jean, Esq.
Noelle’s life journey demonstrates why she will be dedicated to compassionate and zealous advocacy for your child.
As a young child, Noelle attended a highly individualized child-centered Montessori preschool where her educators recognized her strengths and taught her individualized one-on-one lessons based on her natural development. There were no signs of difficulty at this stage and in this environment where Noelle thrived and developed a love of learning and a love of books.
However, when it came time to learn to read in a traditional public school kindergarten classroom setting, the “one size-fits all” environment stifled Noelle’s educational progress. Noelle, a once confident and enthusiastic participant in all activities related to learning, developed shyness when reading in front of peers and adults. By the age of six, Noelle was identified as needing special education services and supports due to a diagnosis of dyslexia.
Noelle was placed in a school where, in part, at public expense she received the individualized 4:1 – 8:1 instruction necessary to meet her unique needs and enable her to achieve challenging goals that were appropriate for her circumstances.
Because of the challenging goals set for Noelle, she regained her confidence and joy in learning. She was admitted to attend a mainstream competitive college preparatory school where she excelled academically. She attained numerous academic and extra-curricular achievements and awards in high school, which earned her admission to the number one college in the nation, Princeton University.
During her undergraduate studies at Princeton, Noelle realized the tremendous fortune and blessing she had in her elementary and secondary school teachers, parents, health professionals, and legal advocates whose unwavering belief in her abilities and investments in her education made it possible to fulfill her academic potential.
Noelle developed a strong desire to help other students with disabilities to thrive. A mentor encouraged Noelle to explore this further. Noelle resolved to immerse herself in the education field becoming an elementary school teacher and earning her Masters’ Degree in Education (M.S. Ed) from Bankstreet College of Education, in New York City.
During her years as a teacher and at Bankstreet, from an educator's perspective, Noelle discovered how students with learning differences and other disabilities are taught using highly specialized and targeted techniques. She was trained in and implemented a multisensory reading program based on the Ortin-Gillingham approach. Ortin-Gillingham is a multi-sensory approach to teaching literacy namely, reading, spelling, and writing.
Although, teaching children individually and in groups in the classroom was fulfilling and rewarding, Noelle desired to ensure that children beyond those within her individual classroom and school had the opportunity to receive instruction designed to meet their unique needs and pursue challenging goals.
Looking back to how her own amazing parents and education rights advocates enforced her rights to gain the specialized instruction she needed to succeed academically, Noelle resolved to learn how to use the law to advocate for the rights of children to gain the resources necessary for them to learn and be prepared for further education, employment, and independent living.
Noelle received her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from American University, Washington College of Law (WCL) in Washington DC. While in law school, Noelle remained focused on her mission of ensuring educational opportunities for students with disabilities and interned with a New York based special education law firm, the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, and the United States Department of Justice Disability Rights Section where she worked on disability rights and education related legal issues. Noelle also served as a student attorney in WCL’s Disability Rights Law Clinic where she provided client centered legal services and representation. She successfully advocated for and gained necessary supports, services, and accommodations for students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Noelle’s experiences growing up as a student who qualified for special education herself, as a teacher implementing specialized instruction to meet the unique learning needs of diverse learners, as a former member of our nation’s administrative agencies tasked with enforcing disability rights, and as a special education and disability rights advocate give her a well rounded multi-dimensional perspective of the importance of securing meaningful special education and accommodations for students who are entitled to these resources. Noelle is equipped to advocate for your student’s educational rights.
Bar Admission: Noelle is licensed to practice law in the state of Texas. Noelle has been admitted to practice in federal court in the Northern District of Texas.
Memberships: Noelle maintains membership with the Council of Parents, Attorneys, and Advocates, the Dallas Bar Association and the American Bar Association. Through these memberships she is able to keep abreast of the latest information and trends relevant to her practice.
Hobbies: Noelle is a figure skater and an avid yogi. In high school and college she was a competitive synchronized figure skater for the Skyliners Synchronized Skating team and for Princeton University. She currently volunteers with her church and with organizations that advocate for the rights of students and people with disabilities. Noelle enjoys outdoor exercise activities and loves tending to her home and garden with her beloved husband, Terry.
Education is the unfolding of the natural powers and faculties latent in every human being."
-Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi