Who We Are


Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionality (TAC-D) project, formerly known as Chapter 405, at the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools (Metro Center), is contracted through the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Office of Special Education to develop, implement, and assess a process of providing comprehensive technical assistance and professional development trainings to New York State School Districts that are addressing issues of disproportionality.

TAC-D’s work includes building the capacity of regions and districts in understanding the root cause and systemically addressing the disproportionate assignment of various subgroups in special education.  This entails providing professional development trainings, coaching, training follow-ups, materials, and resources.  The resources include a Web-Based Clearinghouse, a Disproportionality Data Repository (DDR), Data Analysis Workbookresearch-based articles, journals, and manuals.


Dr. David Kirkland, Associate Professor of English Education
Executive Director of Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools
Principal Investigator

Dr. Patrick Jean-Pierre

Project Director

Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Patrick Jean-Pierre's expertise is in implementing behavioral interventions for at-risk boys. Dr. Jean-Pierre earned his Doctorate of Psychology at Rutgers University in Organizational Psychology with concentrations in Community and Sport Psychology. He received his Master degrees from CUNY Brooklyn College in Industrial Organizational Psychology and at Stony Brook University in Human Resource Management. He holds a B.A. from SBU in Psychology and a minor in International Studies. Dr. Jean-Pierre has been providing technical assistance and professional development on issues related to disproportionality since 2010 as a Metro Center TAC-D associate. Dr. Jean-Pierre has a repertoire of diverse experiences accumulated over the past 14 years in the field of education. Dr. Jean-Pierre's work at the Metro Center has included working with districts to address disproportonality, institute incremental change district-wide and school transformations.

Dr. Jean-Pierre taught middle school special education, general education and gifted classes at Andries Hudde in Brooklyn, NY. At Andries Hudde, Dr. Jean-Pierre was also a teacher leader on school-wide leadership team and the debate team coach. Dr. Jean-Pierre also at Rutgers University, served as a Senior Consultant to the New Jersey Department of Education to provide technical assistance for persistently dangerous schools and worked with counseling departments to develop programs and behavioral supports for students from vulnerable populations as a part of the Rutgers Somerset project. In addition, Dr. Jean-Pierre has provided leadership development at the Wharton School of Executive Education, A.K. Rice Institute for the study of social systems and University of Pennsylvania. Moreover, he has provided therapy to Youth and Families at the Mental Health provider, Supreme Consultants. He currently teaches courses for school guidance counselors in the Education Department at Manhattan College. Dr. Jean-Pierre’s range of professional experiences in the field of education includes teaching, counseling and leadership development, as well as, organizational consulting that leads to systemic change in schools.

Dr. Jean Pierre’s research interests include school transformation, identity and schooling, transformative leadership, inter-group relations and working with multiple school stakeholders, and systemic organizational change in schools.

Dr. Maria G. Hernandez

Associate Director

Dr. María G. Hernández has over 15 years of experience working with recently arrived immigrant Latino children and families, including coordinating various elementary school programs, developing extended summer learning programs for English Language Learners, creating partnerships between schools, community and families, and working with families of young children with developmental delays.  She has also taught pre-school and Kindergarten.  She served on a task force developed to improve access to equitable education and academic achievement for Latino students in Madison, WI.  She received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Her research interests focus on how socio-cultural and contextual factors and family separations related to immigration shape identity, mental health, and educational outcomes for newcomer immigrant Latino children and adolescents.  She teaches program evaluation at NYU.  

Beverly Murphy-Smith

Project Coordinator

Beverly has been a dedicated team member of the Metro Center for over six years. Prior to working at the Center, she worked for The John. A. Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing department at the University. She holds an AAS degree in Accounting from Elizabeth Seton College. Beverly assists in all facets of coordinating project workshops to ensure that our staff is well prepared to deliver professional development and technical assistance to school administrators throughout New York State. Her interest is to one day work with parents and teachers to bridge the gap to help children to reach their full potential.

Zakiyyah Ali

Project Associate

Zakiyyah Ali comes to the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools (Metro Center) after a very recent 14-year commitment to New York City Department of Education students and stakeholders. As an educator of Social Studies, she has taught all of the following: United States History, Government, Global History and Economics. Most recently at Brooklyn, New York’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) under the leadership and guidance of the esteemed Mr. Rashid F. Davis, Principal.  She is a Virginia State University FANatic and holds a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Political Science and a Masters of Science and Masters of Education degrees in Educational Administration and Supervision. She has completed post graduate school studies and participated in various teacher-development programs through the National Endowment of Humanities (NEH), Primary Source, Facing History, and The Gilder Lehrman Institute.  Ms. Ali has worked to develop her teaching practices and those of others as a past curriculum and teacher-development exchange participant with the Melete Foundation in Malawi, Africa.  She is a member of the Shabazz Communications team that produces the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s premier educators’ professional development conference: Black History 360º and many of its other educational endeavors and programs.

Ms. Ali's strong affinity for politics and policy work has led her to participate in many local, state, and federal campaigns—the most gratifying being able to work with the DNC during President Obama’s campaign, attend numerous inaugural activities, including the coveted Inaugural Balls during both inaugurations. Oh yeah! She’s met President Obama, too.

Currently, Ms. Ali is an Instructor and Mentor of educational content and pedagogy to Columbia University’s Teachers College Peace Corps Fellows and a very excited member of New York University’s Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionality (TAC-D).

Briana Santiago

Project Associate

Briana Santiago has more than 5 years of experience as an educator in New York City. Prior to joining the TAC-D team, Ms. Santiago participated in the strategic planning process for the Cypress Hills Promise Neighborhood initiative in Brooklyn, NY, working to develop a strong cradle-to-college-and-career pipeline for students in the Cypress Hills/East New York neighborhood. As Program Associate, she coordinated internal research on effective educational policies and practices, managed program-level data for a set of community schools, and facilitated stakeholder working groups. In the first year of implementation, she served as Director of the initiative, supporting over 20 stakeholders (i.e., service providers, community school leaders, city agencies) in improving educational, health, and safety outcomes for more than 3,500 local children. In addition, she participated in the policy and advocacy efforts leading to the inclusion of the Promise Neighborhoods grant program in the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Ms. Santiago earned her B.S. in Teaching English (Grades 7-12) from NYU Steinhardt and her Ed.M. in Education Policy & Management from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her interests focus on building the capacity of neighborhood schools through community organizing, development, and partnership. As a member of the TAC-D team, she looks forward to collaborating with district leaders to create equitable learning environments for the students, families, and communities they serve.

John Jacobs

Project Associate

Prior to joining the Metro Center, John served as a Young Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency instructor and coordinator for 4 years at BronxWorks, a Community Based Organization in the Bronx. John taught basic literacy and numeracy to adolescents and young adults, in addition to providing Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics instruction. While at BronxWorks, the Young Adult Literacy Program was recognized as a High Achieving Program by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) and received the Data Driven Decision Making award from the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity and DYCD. Before moving to New York City with his wife in 2011 John taught Middle School in Elkton, Virginia where he served as the Alternative Education instructor, English Language Learners Tutor, and YES (Youth Experiencing Success) Teacher.

John is a graduate of NYU Steinhardt where he received a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership, Politics, and Advocacy. While completing his studies, John served as a Policy Analyst Intern at Advocates for Children where he completed research in support of the New York State Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma’s policy advocacy efforts. John received a Bachelors of Arts from Marshall University in Huntington, WV, where he majored in Secondary Education with a concentration in Social Studies. While at Marshall, John was also a member of the Thundering Herd football team. While serving as both a Young Adult Literacy and Middle School teacher, John worked to develop engaging and rigorous curricula and supportive and equitable behavioral interventions that meet the needs of all students. He is excited to continue that work as a member of the Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionality at the Metro Center.

Dr. Emily Jones McGowan

Project Associate

Dr. Emily Jones McGowan holds a PHD in Education Policy from Rutgers University, an MS in Elementary Education from Mercy College, and a BA in Economics from Spelman College.   Prior to joining the TAC-D team, Dr. Jones was a Special Education Consultant with Newark Public Schools and an Adjunct Professor at The City College of the City University of New York (CUNY).  She was a Special Education Teacher Trainer and Coach while at CUNY and Rutgers.  Dr. Jones began her career in education as a special education teacher in a private school in NJ and then in the Citywide District 75 for the NYCDOE.  Dr. Jones is fascinated by the impact the current resegregation of American public schools continues to have on our society.  She believes that understanding the historical determinants and consequences of this phenomenon is critical to ensuring a productive school experience for all children.

Jaspreet Kaur

Research Associate

Ms. Jaspreet Kaur is an experienced educator, analyst and program manager with around 12 years of experience. She earned her MPA from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public services. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Commerce and another Bachelor in Education. Before joining the Metro staff, Ms. Jaspreet Kaur has served as Project Assistant at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Services. Earlier, she had the opportunity to work with Fitch Ratings’ Public Finance Division as a Project Associate where she developed a scalable metric to estimate the cost of government which residents across the municipalities pay. During the project, she also carried out a comparative analysis of 50 largest cities across the US and helped produce more robust credit analysis. While pursuing her Master’s in Public Finance and Policy from NYU, Jaspreet interned with two different agencies at United Nations including United Nations Bureau for Development Policy (BDP) and United Nations Dept. of Economics and Social Affairs (DESA) for research and analytical projects. Apart from that, she also worked with New York City government’s Learning and Development division designing and implementing extensive training programs for employees working with various city agencies.

She started her career as an educator and a program manager with Ryan International Group in India where she worked on international projects including British Council, UK’s International School Awards and US State Dept.’s Doors to Diplomacy project. British Council, UK formally recognized her relentless efforts towards inculcating internationalism at the grass root level and creating globally responsible citizens. The school was awarded the International School of the year award for three consecutive years. Jaspreet attained a Certificate in Communication and educational leadership from Harvard University. She also taught Social Sciences to middle school students.

Through her experience in the field of education policy and nonprofit management, Jaspreet has developed into a goal-oriented professional with strong quantitative and analytical skills. She has the strong potential to enable organizations understand their data and enhance system efficiency through customized tools and models. Jaspreet is an active volunteer for causes related to rural development and education. She formerly served as a volunteer with Bharat Jan Vigyan, an NGO based in India and worked towards spreading science awareness among the rural Indian population. She guided villagers in setting up rain-water harvesting plants and solar panels.

Hui-Ling Malone

Data Specialist

Hui-Ling Malone is a former secondary English teacher. She has taught primarily in Detroit, Michigan and Los Angeles, California in high need Title 1 schools.

She received her M.Ed at University of Michigan and is currently a PhD student in Steinhardt's Teaching and Learning program with a focus on urban education.  She is interested  in exploring the interaction between schools and their surrounding communities in effort to glean a better understanding of how such interplay can be mutually beneficial; serving to strengthen schools and enhance communities simultaneously.

L. Trenton Marsh

Graduate Research Specialist

L. Trenton Marsh is a PhD candidate at New York University's Steinhardt School in the Teaching and Learning department. He earned his B.Sc. in Business Administration, double-majoring in Marketing and Enterprise Management from American University and earned his M.A. in Education, with a concentration in Human Resource Development from the George Washington University.

Marsh is a 2015 recipient of the Mitchell Leaska Dissertation Research Award, a recipient of the 2016 PDK Doctoral Scholarship Award and a 2016 American Enterprise Institute, Education Policy Academy Fellow. His current scholarship uses ethnography to explore how school-context and individual-level ideologies about the construct of schooling success informs the everyday practices of teachers and administrators, and its implications on Black and Latino students and their caregivers in high-performing charter schools. Marsh has also guest lectured at Prairie View A&M University and The City College of the City University of New York. In the fall of 2016, he is a teaching assistant facilitating the Multicultural Perspectives on Social Studying and Curriculum Design, an undergraduate methods pre-service teacher course at New York University's Steinhardt School.

In addition to his scholarship on urban education, Marsh has also written about academic and professional excellence. His book, (by Trafford Publishing in 2008), entitled From 1.0 to 4.0 highlights the strategies he used to transition from a struggling high school student to a successful student leader and academician. Marsh is the founding member of CommitMEN, a virtual think-tank that provides scholarship and guidance to African American men from high school through college. He also is the founder of It Takes a Village@New York University, a monthly educational mentoring partnership with NYU and three New York City schools that pairs NYU male student mentors of color with Black and Latino male high-school mentees to focus on salient social-emotional factors.





Mailing Address

Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools
Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionality
726 Broadway, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10003