The Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools

Who We Are

Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionality (TACD) project, formerly known as Chapter 405, at the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education (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.

Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionality’s work includes building the capacity of TACDregions 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.


Alan Ripp
Project Director
Alan Ripp, a graduate of Texas Tech University (BS) and Texas Woman's University (MEd), has taught in Bedford, Texas and Newton, Massachusetts. Serving as a facilitator and a consultant, Ripp has utilized his expertise in meeting the needs of students in diverse classrooms. Working as an adjunct professor at Queens College, Ripp's coursework includes Classroom Management and Culturally Responsive Education. He has also served as an adjunct professor at Boston University and Fitchburg State College.

Patrick Jean-Pierre
Senior Project Associate
Patrick's expertise is in implementing behavioral intervention 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.

Prior to joining Metro Center, he taught Jr. High School at the Andries Hudde School in Brooklyn. At Rutgers University, he served as a Senior Consultant to the NJ Department of Education. Patrick's research interests include manhood, inter-group relations, and systemic change.

Chemay Morales-James
Senior Project Associate
A former special education teacher, Chemay has been a part of TACD for over 5 years.  During her time at Metro, she has lead the development of Metro’s Culturally Responsive Education curriculum that has become a central part of the Center’s systems level work with school districts. In addition to this, Chemay has experience in guiding school districts in developing or restructuring RtI/Problem Solving Teams and has been a contributing writer for practitioner briefs produced by TACD. In addition to working on TACD, Chemay has over ten years experience working with students from vulnerable populations.  Her interest in working with TACD was inspired by her desire to take part in creating systemic change in the way all children are appropriately educated, especially those who have been disenfranchised.

Chemay has a B.S. in Special Education from Southern CT State University and Ed.M. in Supervision of Special Education Programs from Teachers College, Columbia University. 

Christina Hale
Project Associate
Christina L. Hale, a California native, has worked in public education for the past fourteen years. She received her B.A. from UCLA with a major in English and a minor in Education and went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard's Graduate School of Education.  Ms. Hale comes to Metro Center after working in New York City as both a literacy coach and an English teacher.  Prior to those assignments, she taught Middle School English and AVID courses within the Long Beach Unified School District in California.

Christina’s research interests grew out of her work in Long Beach, which serves one of the most diverse large city populations in the country.  Her work in that district enabled her to examine the definition of academic rigor and to construct lessons that make academic rigor accessible for all students.  She has also worked with teachers on designing and implementing culturally relevant curriculum.

An avid runner, Ms. Hale hopes to begin training for the NYC marathon in the near future.

Lorraine Lopez
Project Associate
Lorraine Lopez has over 20 years of experience as an educator. Prior to joining the Metro Center for Urban Education, Lopez worked as New York State's program manager of 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC), public school teacher and a securities research analyst. She is a New York State certified Business and Marketing teacher and taught English as a Second Language (ESL), GED, business and computer skills to incarcerated youth and adults. Lopez is currently a board of education member of the Fallsburg Central School District. She earned a Masters in Public Administration and B.S. from Marist College.  

Catherine Voulgarides  
Project Associate
Catherine Kramarczuk Voulgarides is a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology of Education program at New York University (NYU). Before joining the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education as a TACD associate, she was a graduate assistant at the Center. In the past she worked for the AmeriCorps Vista project in Phoenix, Arizona, coordinating and developing ESL programs for recent immigrant parents in the Phoenix school system. She holds a BA in economics and is a graduate of McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She also holds a MST in Special Education from Pace University in New York City and taught middle school special education for several years in Washington Heights NYC. Her doctoral research interests are centered on the intersection between the impact of federal disability legislation and the persistence of racial and ethnic disproportionality. More specifically she is interested in understanding the complexities associated with a policy’s origins, its intent and mediation in practice as it responds to local context, especially when a disparate impact is identified.

Natalie Zwerger 
Project Associate
Natalie  Zwerger has worked as an educator and advocate for over 11 years. She has served as a teacher, instructional coach, and staff developer in New York City, Mumbai, India, and Puerto Rico. Specializing in work with vulnerable student populations, Ms. Zwerger has worked with English learners, immigrant students and families, and children who have experienced abuse and neglect. She has conducted extensive studies of school culture in urban and rural schools and has worked with civil rights issues in education. As a teacher, she conducted home visits for her students, hosted monthly parent and family activities in her classroom, and focused on building a community of learners each year. Ms. Zwerger taught a course on social justice issues and the law while in law school and her interests include legal and educational issues in children’s rights and youth empowerment. She is an avid reader and traveler.

Ms. Zwerger has a B.A. from Tufts University, M.S. Ed from City College, and a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law. She is a licensed attorney in New York state.

Beverly Murphy
Administrative 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.

Mailing Address

Metropolitan Center for Urban Education
Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionality
726 Broadway, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10003