The Kohrman Jackson & Krantz law firm in Cleveland has added two new faces within the past six months to the firm’s student and athlete defense group in Vivian Garfunkel, who joined the firm in December 2018, and Davida Amkraut, who joined the firm in April. They work in collaboration with partners Susan Stone and Kristina Supler.

Garfunkel, a University Heights resident and member of Congregation Zichron Chaim in Beachwood where her husband, Rabbi Moshe Garfunkel, is senior rabbi, is a special education advocate, where her role is to represent the best interests of students in the educational process. 

Amkraut, a Beachwood resident who attends Congregation Shaarey Tikvah in Beachwood and whose husband, Brian, is the executive director of the Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, is an educational consultant primarily focusing on the college admission process.

Though neither are attorneys, both Amkraut and Garfunkel have experience in different areas of the education process and will use their expertise to assist KJK.

“What I do for KJK, specifically, is when they have a student who is facing a Title IX charge, either an accusation or have been asked to leave an institution of higher learning and they have to find a new school to attend,” Amkraut said. “So, I help identify schools that would be a good fit for them and I help them with the application process. And they typically have to write a narrative about why they were asked to leave their institution, so I help them craft that, as well, so that they can find a new home.”

Garfunkel focuses mostly on students with special needs.

“I suggest appropriate services, programs, accommodations (and) modifications that meet the students’ needs,” Garfunkel said. “I help parents put their requests in writing. Primarily, what I have been doing with students classes that I have prepared parents for their (Individualized Education Program) or 504 meetings. ... I review all the special education documents, the assessments, report cards, observation reports prior to that IEP or 504 meeting. I accompany the parents to the meeting or any other relevant school meetings, I provide advice and assistance.”

Amkraut said she was impressed by what she called the “holistic approach” of KJK.

“I would say that their holistic approach is inspirational,” Amkraut said. How they’re taking account the whole child, how KJK doesn’t just deal with the legalities. They take into consideration the social and emotional needs. They service kids from all over the country, it’s not only within the Cleveland area.”

Garfunkel agreed with Amkraut.

“This is what I learned from Susan (Stone), we have an open ear we have to be caring,” Garfunkel said. “It’s interesting when a child is diagnosed with a learning disability, that parent will go through a grieving process. So, we expect an actual grieving process. We are there also to hold their hand. ...  I’m seeing students in progress, dealing with the client, the kindness, the empathy (Stone) shows to the client. One thing that I have learned from her is not to go into a system (or) a district with guns blazing. Practice what we call the art of negotiation.”

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