Chicago IL 60606
- J.D., with honors, Chicago-Kent College of Law, 1974
- B.A., Louisiana State University, 1971
Bar & Court Admissions
- Indiana (temporary admission)
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
- Indiana Supreme Court
- Indiana Court of Appeals
Patricia J. Whitten
Patti has devoted her legal career to the practice of education law. Her practice involves all aspects of education law, including litigation at all levels of state and federal courts and administrative agencies. She has an in-depth background in constitutional and civil rights, including educational equity and desegregation issues, labor and employment, vendor contracts, tax and finance, board policy and administrative matters, and legislative drafting and interpretation. Her practice in recent years has had a particular focus on special education law and educational equity issues and related litigation. Patti has participated in several precedent-setting cases in the federal courts, including authoring friend-of-the-court briefs on behalf of school districts and education related organizations.
Prior to joining the firm in 1994, she was with Seyfarth Shaw (1990–1994). Patti served as general counsel for the Chicago Board of Education for more than 11 years, and prior to that she spent most of her legal career in the Chicago Board’s Law Department. She was the Chicago Board’s first female and youngest general counsel. During law school, she was a member of the Law Review.
Patti is a member of numerous bar associations (American Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, Chicago Bar Association and Women’s Bar Association of Illinois) and is active in the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Council of School Attorneys. She has been a member of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Education Law Section Council and the Committee on Law Related Education for the Public, which she chaired. She is also a founding member of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys and currently serves on its executive board. She is a member of the Education Law Association (ELA), the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) and the Illinois Association of Administrators of Special Education.
In 2011, Patti received the Professional Achievement Award from the Chicago-Kent College of Law Alumni Board of Directors. Since 2007, Patti has been selected annually as one of the Illinois Super Lawyers in the area of Schools and Education Law. She has written numerous articles on school law and is a frequent speaker on the topic at the state and national levels, including at NSBA annual conferences, the Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE), and the IASB/IASA/IASBO Joint Annual Conferences.
Select Publications & Speaking Engagements
- Selecting and Working With a School Attorney: A Guide for School Boards, NSBA, April 1997 (contributing author)
- “Placing Limits on Parental Communications,” Inquiry and Analysis (NSBA Council of School Attorneys publication), November 2008 (author)
- “Fight or Flight: Whether to Acquiesce or Forge Ahead with Due Process,” Council of Administrators of Special Education, San Diego, November 2009 (presentation)
- “One Year After the Section 504 Amendments: What Have We Learned?” NSBA Council of School Attorneys Annual Seminar, Chicago, April 2010 (author)
Representative Experience click to view
- Defending a class action brought against the second largest school district in Illinois, School District U-46, which challenges the district’s 2004 student assignment plan, alleging the district’s plan discriminated against minority students; the suit also challenges the district’s English Language Learner and other District programs.
- Representing three Indiana school districts—Hamilton Southeastern Schools, Franklin Township Community Schools and Middlebury Community Schools—in their case against State of Indiana officials alleging the State’s school funding formula is unconstitutional and as a result their districts are not receiving sufficient funding.
- Prevailed on behalf of the school district when serving as lead counsel in precedent-setting case before the Seventh Circuit of Appeals involving the issue of least restrictive environment for special education students. Beth B. v. Lake Bluff School District 65, 211 F.Supp.2d 1020 (N.D. Ill. 2001); aff’d. 282 F.3d 493 (7th Cir. 2002).
- Serves as a member of the Ad Hoc Special Education Committee of the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) and played a significant role in the development and drafting of the model procedures in 2009 that were adopted by most Illinois school districts in compliance with revised special education legislation and regulations.
- Served as Counsel of Record before the U.S. Supreme Court for amici curiae in Arlington Central School District Board of Education v. Murphy, 548 U.S. 291 (2006), in which the Court ruled in favor of the school district, holding that parents who prevail in special education disputes are not entitled to expert witness fees under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The amici curiae included the NSBA, the American Association of School Administrators, the New York State School Boards Association and the New York State Council of School Superintendents in support of the Arlington Central Board of Education.
- Served as lead counsel in T.D. v. LaGrange School District No. 102, 222 F.Supp.2d 1062 (N.D. Ill. 2002); aff’d. 349 F.3d 469 (7th Cir. 2003), which established in the Seventh Circuit that expert fees could not be awarded to parents in due process appeals.
- Won case before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Evanston Township High School District 202, John M. v. Board of Education of Evanston Township High School District 202,502 F.3d 708 (7th Cir. 2007), which held that the due process decision in favor of the district was improperly reversed by the trial court.
- Authored amicus curiae briefs before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the IASB and IASA.
- Patricia J. Whitten Among the 125 Alumni of Distinction Recognized by IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
- Franczek Radelet Attorneys Prepare Amicus Brief in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action
- Franczek Radelet Attorneys Prepare NSBA Friend of the Court Brief in U. S. Supreme Court Case
- U.S. Supreme Court Directs Fifth Circuit to Reevaluate University of Texas Admissions Process Using “Correct” Strict Scrutiny Test
- FAQs on the New Race/Ethnicity Data Collection Requirements for the 2010-2011 School Year
- View All »