Jackie offers high-quality, prompt, and personable representation to educational institutions, including K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. Her breadth of experience in education and employment law means she can assist her clients with almost any issue they face, including board and school governance, labor and employment, immigration, discrimination and harassment, special education, student, and business and operations issues.
Jackie is passionate about civil rights law. From 2016 to 2018, Jackie was a Civil Rights Attorney in the Chicago office of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Her experience at OCR both before and after the 2016 administration change gives her clients unique insight into some of the most politicized legal issues in education today, including Title IX. Jackie uses this experience to counsel clients on internal investigations into complaints of student and staff misconduct, harassment, and discrimination; to efficiently and assiduously defend clients in legal and administrative civil rights proceedings; and to provide engaging, practical training on civil rights fundamentals and investigation techniques. Jackie has received all necessary training under the 2020 Title IX regulations to serve as an investigator, complaint decisionmaker/hearing officer, appellate decisionmaker, and informal resolution facilitator for Title IX matters. Her significant investigatory experience regarding complaints of discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity, and disability makes her an investigator of choice for high-profile, sensitive investigation facing schools, colleges, and universities.
Jackie is an experienced litigator. She represents clients in all stages of proceedings in state and Federal court; in administrative hearings, including employee dismissal hearings and disability rights hearings; and in proceedings before agencies such as OCR, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Jackie crafts legally-compliant policies, procedures, handbooks, and webpage content for schools and regularly handles Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Open Meetings Act (OMA) issues for public-sector clients. She drafts, reviews, and negotiates a wide variety of contracts and agreements. Examples include contracts involving purchases of goods and services, employment, cooperative relationships, facilities use, data use, and privacy issues. She advises on all issues related to edtech, including the myriad privacy issues inherent in the use of educational applications, tools, and other products.
Jackie is a sought after speaker on the national, state, and local levels on education and labor and employment law topics. She especially enjoys training administrators, 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.
Jackie attended the University of Virginia School of Law, where she was a recipient of the Dillard Scholarship, the Law School’s premier full merit scholarship, and a member of the editorial board for the Virginia Law Review. She is a summa cum laude graduate of the Donaghey Scholars honors program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where she triple majored in English Literature, History, and French.
Jackie is a former Chair and Vice-Chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Education Committee and is a member of the Iranian-American Bar Association. She is the founder of Lincoln Park Attorney Moms, a group through which working moms find support for the challenges of balancing a professional career and a family. In her free time, Jackie enjoys running and spending time with her husband and two children.
- Audited higher education institutions’ sexual harassment and misconduct policies, procedures, and practices
- Served as an independent investigator for educational institutions regarding complaints involving sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation
- Member of school district trial team from discovery through trial in a class-action federal lawsuit alleging constitutional and civil rights violations against minority and limited English proficient (“LEP”) students (McFadden v. Board of Education for Illinois School District U-46)
- Obtained dismissals of numerous complaints against national private research universities, including for defamation and breach of contract in Illinois court and for academic dismissal of a student under various legal theories in Federal court
- Successfully represented school district in several high-profile tenured teacher dismissal hearings, including those involving sexual assault and harassment, hazing, and substance abuse
- Represented schools in high-profile complaints before the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), including complaints involving Title IX and transgender rights and a school’s response to student-on-student sexual assault
- Provided interactive, engaging training to hundreds of a school’s employees on sexual harassment, including Title IX, and other types of harassment, bullying, and misconduct
- Obtained significant concessions from national student-information-system provider relating to student data privacy and data breach protections
- Litigated novel Illinois Freedom of Information Act question involving the scope of the governmental function provision in FOIA
- Counseled school districts on numerous uncertain constitutional questions, including those involving discipline for student’s off-campus, online misconduct and other First and Fourth Amendment issues
Jackie has been recognized as an Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Star in Schools & Education and an Emerging Lawyer in Education Law by Law Bulletin Publishing. Jackie received the Chicago Bar Association’s David C. Hillard Award for Outstanding Committee Service for her work as a Chair of the CBA Education Committee.