Ashley VanCleef is not only an experienced education law attorney but also a certified special educator. This past summer she received 36 hours in Orton Gillingham training and is scheduled to complete the 60 hours this fall. Ashley has served students with disabilities as special education teacher, school and state level administrator, and school attorney. Prior to forming Law for Parents, Ashley's experience as a special education attorney included working for the Law Office of Brian K. Gruber, P.C., staff attorney for Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) in Maryland, as well as Supervisor and 504 Coordinator for the MCPS Resolution and Compliance Unit. While in MCPS, Ashley instituted informal, collaborative solutions to assist families and school system staff to resolve concerns through the least adversarial means focusing on win-win resolutions. As an attorney for parents, she continues to find dynamic approaches to resolving concerns with student-focused outcomes.
Ashley's experience also includes serving as as a resource teacher for middle schools, nonpublic schools, and compliance in Howard County Public Schools in Maryland. She provided training for special educators on instructional frameworks and interventions, administration of the Woodcock Johnson educational assessment, writing/conducting individualized education programs (IEPs), and compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Additionally, she worked as a case manager for students placed in nonpublic settings and served as a member of the Central Educational Placement Team (CEPT).
Prior to moving to Maryland, Ashley worked for the state departments of education in both Texas and Oklahoma. Her many duties included compliance monitoring of school districts, technical assistance for families to access the dispute resolution options of IDEA, state complaint investigations, and providing statewide training on special education requirements.
Ashley works with multiple groups to provide professional learning on federal and state education requirements. She is a former adjunct faculty member of Morgan State University where she taught Legal Aspects of Educational Administration and has been a guest lecturer for many other colleges. She is currently serving on the Board for the Self Directed Advocacy Network (SDAN). Ashley is a member of the Maryland State Bar Association, Frederick County Bar Association, International Dyslexia Association, and Learning Disabilities Association. In her spare time, Ms. VanCleef enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering with her church youth group.
Sammy Jo Kanekuni, LCSW-C is an evening law student at the University of Maryland Baltimore, where she also obtained her Master’s degree in social work in 2012.
Sammy Jo comes to Law for Parents after six years at the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, where she conducted forensic interviews with children and vulnerable adults who were victims or witnesses to abuse or other violent crimes. Prior to that, Sammy Jo was a child protection investigator in Frederick County. During her time as a clinical social worker, she has interviewed nearly 800 children about their experiences.
In 2020, Sammy Jo was a legal intern at Law for Parents and completed the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates New Attorney Course on Special Education. In her free time, Sammy Jo enjoys skiing and playing tennis with her husband.