Melissa Bilash is one of only 100 people in the United States to have successfully completed the nationally recognized and intense training program, Special Education Advocates Training (SEAT). This is the ONLY Federal Training program that exists to date.

SEAT is a joint initiative of The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA) and The Center for Disability Studies and Community Inclusion at the University of Southern California University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. SEAT develops a national training curriculum under an Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Research and Innovation Model Development Grant. The goal of SEAT is to create standardized training curricula, materials, guidelines, and protocols for class instruction. In furtherance of this goal, SEAT offered a unique training program for special education advocates. The training explored in-depth the intricacies of IDEA, Section 504, IFSPs, IEPs and ISPs. Trainees under the SEAT advocate training program were required to successfully complete approximately 115 hours of coursework as well as a six-month practicum (internship) with an experienced special education attorney or advocate.

Melissa completed her practicum under the guidance under a local special education attorney. The training covered in depth exploration of IDEA, Section 504, IFSP, IEP and ISPs. Both the practicum hours and the in class experience were graded to determine successful understanding of the needed concepts to practice as a special education advocate.

Melissa has also completed additional trainings in Chapter 14, 15 and 16 of the PA Code. She takes over 100 Continuing Education hours each year in all areas of Special Education and Gifted Law as well as many hours in specific disabilities.

Melissa was recently appointed as one of 51 educational delegates to Georgetown and Parenting Magazine’s first annual Mom Congress™ on Education and Learning Conference. The event took place on May 2, 2010 in Washington, D.C. , where delegates posed to Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education tough questions concerning the direction and future of the American education system. Delegates also crafted a guide for parents to encourage more grassroots involvement in their children’s education this will be released in the October issue of Parenting Magazine. This is a multi-year volunteer position for effective change across the United States.

Melissa was also nominated Parent of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education, a nonprofit advocacy group and affiliate of National Association for Gifted Children. PAGE is geared towards helping gifted children in Pennsylvania realize their full potential.

For more information on the Mom Congress™, please click here.

For Parenting Magazine’s online article featuring the individual delegates to the Mom Congress, please click here.