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300 S. Wacker Drive
Suite 3400
Chicago IL 60606
TEL: 312.786.6137
FAX: 312.986.9192
Practice Areas
Education
  • J.D., The University of Virginia School of Law, 2007
  • B.A., summa cum laude, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, 2004 (English, History, and French)
Bar & Court Admissions
  • Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
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Jacqueline Gharapour Wernz

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Jackie’s decade of experience representing and regulating public and private schools, colleges, and universities allows her to advocate effectively for her clients so they can focus on their educational missions. She prides herself on the strong relationships she builds with clients, who trust her both professionally and personally to handle even the most sensitive legal issues.

Jackie represents educational institutions in a wide range of education and employment law matters. She represents clients in all stages of proceedings in state and Federal court; in administrative hearings, including tenured teacher dismissal hearings and special education due process hearings; and in administrative proceedings before agencies such as the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

She crafts policies, procedures, handbooks, and webpage content for schools and regularly handles Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Open Meetings Act (OMA) issues for clients. Jackie has drafted, reviewed, and negotiated a wide variety of contracts and agreements, including those involving purchases of goods and services, employment, cooperative relationships, facilities use, software/Saas, data use and privacy; she has a passion for all things related to the law of education technology. Jackie also conducts and counsels clients on internal investigations into complaints of student and staff misconduct, harassment, and discrimination.

Jackie regularly speaks on education law topics at the national, state, and local level. She especially enjoys training school staff and students on topics such as disability accommodations, discrimination and harassment, bullying, sexual harassment and assault, student data privacy, and acceptable use of technology.

From 2016 to 2018, Jackie worked at the Chicago office of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Her experience in the agency both before and after the 2016 administration change gives her clients insight into some of the most politicized legal issues in education today, including racial and sexual harassment.

Jackie attended the University of Virginia School of Law, where she was a member of the editorial board for the Virginia Law Review and a recipient of a Dillard Scholarship, the Law School’s premier full merit scholarship. She is a summa cum laude graduate of the Donaghey Scholars honors program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

During her time in private practice, Jackie was consistently recognized by Illinois Super Lawyers as a Rising Star in Schools & Education (2012-2016). She is a former Chair (2009-2014) and Vice-Chair (2015-2016) of the Chicago Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section Education Committee.

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