Karen Norlander

Karen Norlander, Esq. was a cherished friend and colleague of the NPR, Inc. team who died after a fall in 2022. She was a fierce advocate for children, disability rights, civil liberties, equality, and public education. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Wisconsin, received a Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University, and a law degree from Pace University.

Karen was brilliant, warm, funny, and challenging. Before law school, Karen worked to re-settle and support people with developmental disabilities in Westchester County following the closure of Willowbrook State School. Karen was a vocal advocate in public hearings, facing down local community opposition to group homes for people with developmental disabilities. She later served as director of the Westchester County branch of the New York Civil Liberties Union, worked for youth advocacy organizations, advocated for the rights of imprisoned people, and increased access to education for homeless children. She taught and wrote extensively on the rights of youth.

Karen later served as a special counsel to Girvin & Ferlazzo, PC, representing individual school districts in special education matters and supports the firm's Special Education Law practice through the development of training programs and preventive law initiatives. She was also counsel to the statewide Council of New York Special Education Administrators (CNYSEA) and taught education law classes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Karen was a frequent speaker at State Bar Association continuing education programs, and active on bar association committees. In recent years, Karen served as an impartial hearing officer deciding special education disputes. In 2010, Norlander was recognized as a Super Lawyer in her field of education law.

For National Professional Resources, Inc./Dude Publishing, she wrote the laminated reference guides, What Educators & Parents Need to Know About Special Education Law (also available in Spanish) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act: Students with Disabilities. She is also a featured presenter on the video RTI Tackles the LD Explosion.and federal civil rights laws.