Practice Area: Special Education
Joanna Gonzalez-Konetzke graduated from Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Psychology. After graduation, she completed Masters level courses in Special Education at the University of St. Thomas to obtain her K-12 teaching certification in Special Education and later earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Colorado.
Joanna taught special education for three years in Texas and two years in Colorado, working with children with a wide variety of disabilities. It was not enough for Joanna to merely teach her students; she felt it was her obligation to educate all teachers on their role in meeting the needs of students with disabilities while simultaneously respecting their rights. She took on the additional role of special education department chairperson for three of her five years teaching. In this role, she coordinated with other special education teachers, the district, service providers, regular education teachers, and parents to ensure student’s needs were being met and progress was being made toward the achievement of students’ goals. She also sought to educate parents on their role and rights in furthering their child’s education. It was the love of advocating for her students that led her to leave the teaching profession and pursue a legal career.
Joanna graduated from the University of Colorado School of Law in 2004 with her J.D. During law school, Joanna’s interest in dispute resolution through mediation and negotiation grew, and to further her skills, she pursued coursework at the University of Granada (Granada, Spain) and Humboldt University (Berlin, Germany) in dispute resolution. She was a member of the Law & Mediation group and CU Law negotiation team. These experiences taught her the importance of respecting other perspectives and preserving the relationship among the negotiators, when possible, while still being a strong advocate for her clients.
Joanna then moved to California to begin her career as a defense attorney specializing in complex civil litigation and became a partner at her firm. Joanna worked with clients to analyze the best and most cost-effective outcome, given the specific circumstances of each case and work diligently toward that goal. The litigation and discovery processes can be foreign and overwhelming to many clients, but she educated and guided her clients through each step to help them make well-informed decisions. She has negotiated through informal and formal means with opposing counsel, mediators, and judges for clients big and small to resolve complex cases without the expense of a trial. As a result, she is comfortable at the negotiation table as well as in the courtroom and understands the value of each. As with her students, she understands each client has a unique set of circumstances and needs a specific plan to help them reach their individual short and long-term goals.
I spent most of my legal career in litigation before deciding to return to what had originally inspired me to become an attorney, special education. I chose to practice special education law because I have always had a passion for working with families and children with disabilities. My background as a special educator gives me a unique perspective, and being a mother of two, I can identify with clients’ struggles to ensure their children’s best interest is being served. As a litigator, I was able to hone my negotiation and mediation skills and understand the value of the relationships with clients, other counsel, and mediators in reaching a favorable outcome for my clients. As with special education, it is important to preserve the relationships you have with those who will be implementing your child’s IEP while still advocating for the most appropriate placement, goals, and services for your children. However, when reasoning fails, I am prepared to file a Due Process complaint, or 504 Compliance Complaint on your behalf to ensure your child’s unique needs are met by their IEP or 504 plan. My goal is to assist you in procuring the appropriate supports, services and placement based upon your child’s unique needs.