Tess is a partner in the School Law Practice Group and provides legal consultation to school districts, charter schools, and postsecondary institutions in a broad range of areas including special education and disability law, policy development, student-related issues, and corporate organization. In addition, Tess is a frequent speaker and provides consultation on the issue of food allergies and the law. Tess is also a member of the Litigation Practice Group, providing litigation support in federal, state, and administrative actions, and she co-chairs the Nonprofit Practice Group, assisting small nonprofits with organization and governance issues.

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Admitted to Practice

  • Wisconsin State Courts
  • United States District Court of the Western District of Wisconsin

Representative Work

  • Successfully defended school districts and technical colleges in OCR complaints involving: retaliation, disability discrimination, and website accessibility
  • Successfully defended school districts in state IDEA complaints involving: seclusion and restraint, child-fund, expulsion, manifestation determination reviews, and IEP Development
  • Successfully defended school districts in due process complaints resolving most on summary judgement briefing
  • Drafted corporate governance documents and 501(c)(3) applications for many Wisconsin charter schools
  • Assisted school districts in successfully mediating issues related to special education and Section 504

Presentations, Publications, & Contributions

  • Author:
    • "Legal Comment: Website and Educational Technology Accessibility," Wisconsin School News, June/July 2016
    • "Legal Comment: Accommodating Parents and Visitors with Disabilities in Schools," Wisconsin School News, September 2013
    • "Legal Comment: Seclusion and Restraint," Wisconsin School News, March 2013
    • "The ADAAA: Key Changes to Disability Law," Wisconsin Lawyer, May 2012
  • Presenter:
    • "Accommodating Disabilities in Higher Education: Requirements Under Section 504 and the ADA," Education Admin Web Advisor, April 2017
    • "Accommodating Disabilities in Higher Education: What to Expect in 2017!" Education Admin Web Advisor, March 2017
    • "Addressing Unemployment Compensation Standards," Wisconsin Technical College System, HR Leadership Program, March 2017
    • "Addressing Transgender Issues For Students and Employees," Wisconsin Technical College System, HR Leadership Program, July 2016
    • "The ADA and Section 504: A Review of Critical Compliance Issues in Higher Education," AHEAD Spring Conference, April 2016
    • "OCR Compliance: Knowing What Triggers an OCR Investigation and How to Respond When it Happens," AHEAD Spring Conference, April 2016
    • "Section 504 Current Compliance Issues," WCASS Winter Conference, February 2016
    • "What's Trending in the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights," CESA 2 - RSN, December 2015
    • "Serving Students with Mental Health Issues," WCASS Spring Conference, May 2016
    • "Nuts and Bolts of Disciplining Students with Disabilities," WCASS, May 2015
    • "Accommodating Students with Concussions," CESA 2, April 2015 (May 2015)
    • "Legal Updates for Higher Education," Wisconsin Technical College System, April 2015, November 2014 & April 2014
    • "K-12 Special Education and Disability Law Requirements," Training Series, March 2014
    • "Nuts and Bolts of the IDEA," Education Admin Web Advisor, January 2014
    • "Establishing the Framework: IDEA, Section 504 and ADA," Education Admin Web Advisor, January 2014
    • "School Actions (or Inaction) that can Result in Legal Entanglements," NBI November 2013
    • "Legal Highlights for Charter School Planning Grantees," DPI, October 2013
    • "Wisconsin's Seclusion and Restraint Law: Implementation and Issues," Boardman Clark School Law Seminar, November 2012
    • "Food Allergies and the Law," Webcast, Wisconsin State Bar Association, October 2010
  • Articles Cited In:
    • "Adult Peanut Allergies Present Workplace Challenges," LIZ NEPORENT, ABC News National, -- abcnews.go.com, April 2013
    • "Lesley U. Decision: A Victory for Allergy," Celiac Access, Allergic Living, March 2013
    • "We must create a national policy to protect and manage food allergic students at school," Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, August 2012
    • "Helping Families Manage Food Allergy in School," Medscape Pediatrics, July 2011

Community Involvement & Board Memberships

  • Wisconsin School Attorneys Association, Board of Directors
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Former Member, Board of Directors
  • Verona Area Community Theater (VACT), Former Member, Board of Directors
  • Lily's Fund for Epilepsy Research
  • Porchlight, Inc., Former President and Member, Board of Directors
  • Dane County Bar Association, Former Member, Board of Directors
  • Verona Public Library, Former Member, Board of Directors

Professional Memberships

  • Wisconsin School Attorneys Association
  • Wisconsin Council of Administrators of Special Service
  • Wisconsin Association of School Boards
  • Dane County Bar Association


  • J.D., cum laude, University of Wisconsin Law School, 1993
  • B.A., cum laude, Marquette University, 1990


  • Judicial Clerk, Late Honorable Justice William A. Bablitch, Wisconsin Supreme Court, 1993-1995

Tess’s Latest Writing & Presentations