WCASS 2023 Fall Conference 
Coming Together: Setting the Stage for Success

September 21-22, 2023
Wilderness Resort, Wisconsin Dells

Join us for a chance to network with special education leaders and decision makers during the Wisconsin Council of Administrators of Special Services Fall Conference. Help set the stage for student success with those who are responsible for making special education and student services purchases in Wisconsin school districts. Learn more about this year's speakers here! 
Registration has reached capacity for this event. To be added to the waitlist please email [email protected]

Schedule of Events

Thursday, September 21, 2023 

7:00-4:30 Registration

7:30-8:15 Continental Breakfast

8:15-9:45 Opening Keynote

 The Role of Law in Special Education
Perry Zirkel, Lehigh University

In this general session, Professor Zirkel will explain the significance of the role of law for stakeholders, including parents and school personnel, for K–12 students with disabilities.  The questions that he will discuss include: (1) Is special education, at this point in its evolution, over-legalized?  (2) To what extent are and should school personnel be legally literate? and (3) What is the ultimate lesson about the role of law as compared with the generally shared norm of providing effective services for students with disabilities and for all students? 




9:45-10:15 Break with Vendors

10:15-11:30 Concurrent Sessions

1. Seclusion and Restraint Considerations for Practice 
Mary Gerbig, Buelow Vetter Buikema Olson & Violet, LLC
Tess O’Brien-Heinzen, Boardman Clark, LLP

This session will provide an overview of the recent 7th circuit Monell case and state complaint decisions. Mary and Tess will share what can be learned from these decisions to inform educational practices.

2. Instruction matters: How to Make Time to Observe, Understand and Support Learning (It’s also a great retention strategy)
Sarah Nelson, Director Professional Learning & Continuous Improvement, CESA 12
Jen Ledin, Director Special Education & Inclusive Systems RSN Coordinator, CESA 12

Special education staff are part of the overall educational team in a school district.  How can we ensure that their observer and feedback processes are meaningful and linked to their work?  This session will share three practices that special education administrators can use to support the effectiveness of their teaching staff that leads to improved outcomes for students with IEPs, including ways to build capacity of other observers in the district. 

3. Supporting Best Practices for Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities
Iris Jacobson, Education Consultant, Special Education Team, WDPI
Michael Peasy, Education Consultant, Special Education Team, WDPI

This session will cover what administrators should consider when providing services for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.  Information and discussion will focus on a variety of resources supporting instruction aligned to alternate academic achievement standards and the importance of provision of services in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Participants will have the opportunity to share questions and discuss solutions to challenges related to services for student with significant support needs.

4. Your voice matters! An Opportunity to Provide Input to Inform WDPI’s Statewide Supports for Continuous Improvement 
Daniel Parker, Assistant Director, Special Education Team, WDPI 

Wisconsin DPI wants your feedback on development of a statewide framework to provide universal and targeted support to ESSA and IDEA identified schools and districts. The Statewide Supports for Continuous Improvement framework will include content-specific instructional coaching and professional development that meets the needs of students, families, and educators so that each and every student is college, career, and community ready. Wisconsin DPI needs your input to ensure that the supports schools and districts need are infused into the Statewide Supports for Continuous Improvement framework.  Please be prepared to share what success would look like for schools and districts so they can be removed from IDEA and ESSA identifications as they meet the needs of each and every learner.



11:30-12:00 Lunch

12:00-12:45 Membership Meeting

1:00-2:15 Concurrent Sessions

1. Strengths & Needs,  Goals & Services--Oh My! Strategies to Facilitate Collective Responsibility for the Development of Collaborative IEPs and Service Delivery
Carlynn Higbie, Education Consultant, Special Education Team, WDPI

Top 5 Things you need to know about Related Service supports:
  • Role of therapists in the school-based setting: Why is it different?
  • Collective Responsibility to data gathering and development if the IEP without Discipline-specific IEP headings or IEP goals
  • Following the CCR IEP Process to make decisions about aligning services to the student needs and IEP goals:
    • Connecting Related Service supports to Student’s educational needs and goals
    • Service delivery models
    • Documenting both direct and on-behalf services in the IEP
  • Related Service Provider role in ESSA and MLSS supports

2. It’s Not Too Soon:  Using the WCASS Toolkit for Workload Determination to Get Ready for your January Board Meeting
Tiffany Loken, Director of Special Education, Waunakee School District
Adam Boldt, Director of Student Services. Waunakee School District

This session will focus on working through open enrollment considerations with an emphasis on sharing workload determination models that have been used successfully in WI school districts. WI DPI’s new workload guidance informed the development of this WCASS project.

3. Designing and Delivering Supports
Sarah Nelson, Director Professional Learning & Continuous Improvement, CESA 12
Jen Ledin, Director Special Education & Inclusive Systems, RSN Director, CESA 12

Integrating instruction, intervention and specially designed instruction as an integrated system can seem daunting. Join Sarah and Jen to learn practical strategies that integrate high quality instruction, use of data, and collaboration to ensure high levels of learning for every learner through a district’s continuum of support.

4. Navigating Challenging Behaviors: Effective Strategies for Addressing Intense Behavioral Needs
Kylie Owens, Attolles Law
Chad Wade, Renning, Lewis & Lacy

This presentation will explore strategies for meeting intense behavioral needs of students in special education settings. Topics will include: (1) when and how to conduct a Functional Behavior Assessment (“FBA”) and develop a behavior intervention plan (“BIP”), (2) seclusion and restraint procedures, (3) when shortened school days or alternative placements are appropriate and strategies for utilizing these; and (4) considerations and legal tools for student removals outside of the IDEA.

2:15-2:45 Break with Vendors

2:45-4:30 Attorney Panel on Legal Hot Topics

Lisa Misco, WCASS President, CESA 8
Hannah Chin, Von Briesen & Roper, s.c.
Chrissy Hamiel, Atolles Law, s.c.
Kylie Owens, Atolles Law, s.c.
Tess O’Brien-Heinzen, Boardman Clark, LLP
Chad Wade, Renning, Lewis & Lacy, s.c.
Mary Gerbig, Buelow Vetter Buikema Olson & Violet, LLC

Building awareness of the implications of WDPI complaint decisions regarding: 

  • ESY
  • Shortened days
  • Alternative placements
  • Seclusion & restraint
  • Other hot button complaint issues

4:30-6:30 Networking Reception Sponsored by:

Friday, September 22, 2023

7:00-8:00 Breakfast Buffet

8:10-9:30 Opening Keynote

Attracting Tomorrow’s Talent with Today's Leaders
Steve Bench, Generational Consulting, LLC

Our country is at a generational crossroads unlike any we have seen before. Talent attraction and retention are the #1 issue facing employers in 2023, but at the same time millions of young employees are already disenchanted about the workforce and wondering how their professional lives will take shape in the coming years.  As the Baby Boomers ride off into the retirement sunset, Generation X is left to manage an empowered Millennial generation raised with a new set of attitudes and expectations about their work-life balance. And just as we were beginning to understand Millennials, Gen Z is entering the workforce en masse! 

This keynote session focuses on talent attraction and workforce retention by building understanding of who we are, how we were raised, and how each generation views “work” as a part of their identity.  Learn talent attraction and retention strategies to overcome generational differences and attract Millennial and Gen Z employees and keep them from leaving!  Adulthood has changed, and depending on my life stage, I might prioritize my lifestyle over my career… So how do you manage and motivate someone who may not be as committed to their job as previous generations?  This session will give you the answers, energize your group and get people talking!

Learning Outcomes:

1. Manage Generational Leadership at Work

2. Identify Areas of Generational Leverage

3. Win Over Potential Mentors & Strengthen Your Culture

4. Develop a Talent Attraction & Retention Plan

5. Improve Employee Retention Amidst the Great Resignation 



9:45-10:30 & 10:45-11:30 Community Conversations (repeated)

  1. Learn about free supports through WDPI Grant Projects

    This space will be set up like an exhibitor space. Conference participants will be able to visit with these DPI Grant Coordinators to learn more about some of the free supports available to meet the needs of your staff and students.

    1. Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

    2. Special Education Induction Program

    3. School Based Mental Health Professionals grant program

    4.  Wisconsin Statewide Parent-Educator Initiative (WSPEI)

    5. Supporting Neurodiverse Students

    6. Wisconsin Special Education Mediation System (WSEMS)

    7. Assistive Technology (AT) Forward Project

    8. Family Engagement and Advocacy

    9. Early Learning Technical Assistance and Implementation (EL-TAI)


  1. Attract & Retain Staff
  2. Legal Hot Topic: Navigating Expulsions
  3. Legal Hot Topic: Gender identity/transgender updates
  4. Section 504 Considerations
  5. Attendance Considerations
  6. Legal Hot Topic: Manifestation Determinations
  7. Writing IEPs to Address Staffing Challenges
  8. New Directors- Burning Questions & Budget Considerations
  9. Procedural Compliance Self Assessment Q & A
  10. Mandatory Reporting: Leading and Implementing the Changes Required by WI DPI
  11. Statewide System of Continuous Improvement Stakeholder Input

11:40-1:00 New Leader Lunch

Conference Fees

Member: $375*
Non-Member: $450
*Must be logged in to see member pricing*

Sending a team?
Team of 3 Conference fees:
Members: $1,000
(Each additional team member is $333)

Please email [email protected] with the following information in order to receive the team of 3 (or more) discount!
For each team member we need:
1. name
2. title
3. school
4. WCASS member status
5. CESA region
6. email address
7. session choices

WCASS will register the group for you and email you the confirmation and invoice. 

Overnight Information

Wilderness Resort
45 Hillman Road
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965
Special room rate of $119 per night
Room block guaranteed through August 28, 2023.
After this date, the room rate will be honored if rooms are still available.
Call 1-800-867-9453 and use the code: Leader #996373



Accessibility: For questions about accessibility or to request special assistance during the event, please contact Gail Anderson at [email protected]. Three weeks advance notice is required to allow us to provide seamless access. If you need to cancel the special request this must be done at least 3 working days prior to the start of the event.

Questions? For questions on registration, payment, or general information please call the WCASS office at 608-241-0300.