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Gerbig draws upon teaching background on school law team

By: Jane Pribek//June 23, 2011//

Gerbig draws upon teaching background on school law team

By: Jane Pribek//June 23, 2011//

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(Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)
(Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Long before the term “multitasking” was applied to people, and not just computers, Mary Gerbig was successfully combining family with the pursuit of a legal career.

In 1991, Gerbig started law school, leaving a career teaching music to secondary students. She had two young children at the time.

“I remember sitting with my [class] notes and folding laundry, or when I’d walk the dog, I’d bring along my outlines,” she said with a laugh.

Not only did Gerbig survive law school, she thrived and ultimately found a way to combine her passions for the law and for education, by joining the school law team at Davis & Kuelthau SC in Green Bay.

“It really is a service profession for me — helping clients solve problems, often looking for long-term solutions and ways to help them navigate the law, so they can best meet the school’s needs and the educational interests of their students,” said Gerbig, now a shareholder.

She has developed a concentration in special education law, and has been involved in several important cases regarding the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act.

Among them, Gerbig authored and argued an amicus brief on behalf of the Wisconsin Counsel of Administrators of Special Services in Calumet County Department of Human Services v. Randall H., 2002 WI 126. The Wisconsin Supreme Court adopted her argument when it ruled that counties are not responsible for the mental-health treatment expenses of children placed in residential treatment facilities pursuant to their individualized educational programs under IDEA.

It was unusual for an amicus to participate in oral argument, and the court extended the time for her questioning — also a rarity.

In addition, in VanDenBerg v. Appleton Area School District, 252 F.Supp.2d 786 (2003), the court ruled favorably for Gerbig’s client when it upheld an ALJ’s ruling that Wisconsin’s one-year statute of limitations barred a plaintiff’s action under IDEA.

“With the law as potentially complicated as it sometimes is for schools, one of Mary’s greatest strengths is her ability to draw upon her resources as a former teacher, a mother and an attorney to explain the nuances and subtleties of the law,” said Yvette Dunlap, assistant superintendent for student services with the Appleton Area School District.


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