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 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 Workbook, research based articles, journals, and manuals.
Dr. Patrick Jean-Pierre
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 assocaite. Dr. Jean-Pierre has a repretoire 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.
Senior Project Associate
Chemay Morales-James earned a Master of Education (Ed.M.) in Supervision of Special Education Programs degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, and Bachelor of Science in Special Education from Southern CT State University. A former special education teacher, Mrs. Morales-James has been a part of Metro Center TAC-D since November 2007.
During her time at Metro, she has led 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, Ms. Morales-James 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 TAC-D. In addition to working on TAC-D, Ms. Morales-James has over ten years experience working with students from vulnerable populations. Her interest in working with TAC-D 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.
Senior Project Associate
Christian Hale-Elliot earned her Master’s Degree in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard's Graduate School of Education, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a minor in Education. She has worked as a Metro Center TAC-D project associate since September 2012.
Prior to joining the Metro Center, Ms. Hale-Elliot worked in public education for 14 years. Ms. Hale worked in New York City as both a literacy coach and an English teacher. Prior to that, she taught Middle School English and AVID courses in the Long Beach Unified School District in California.
Ms. Hale-Elliot’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.
Senior Project Associate
Lorraine Lopez earned a Master’s in Public Administration and Bachelor of Science from Marist College in Public Administration. She has worked as a Metro Center TAC-D project associate since September 2010.
Ms. Lopez has over 20 years of experience as an educator. Prior to joining the Metro Center, she 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. Ms. Lopez is also former member of the Fallsburg Central School District Board of Education.
Catherine Voulgarides earned a Master of Science for Teachers (MST) in Special Education from Pace University in New York City, and Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from of McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Ms. Voulgarides is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology of Education program at NYU. She has been at the Metro Center since 2009 in a variety of roles, including serving as a TAC-D project associate over the past year.
Before joining the Metro Center, Ms. Voulgarides worked for the AmeriCorps Vista project in Phoenix, Arizona, coordinating and developing ESL programs for recent immigrant parents in the Phoenix school system. She taught middle school special education for 4 years in Washington Heights. Her 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, and its intent and mediation in practice as it responds to local contexts, especially when a disparate impact is identified.
Natalie Zwerger earned a Juris Doctor (JD) from Northeastern University School of Law, a Master’s of Education (M.S.Ed.) degree from City College, and Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University. She is a licensed attorney in New York State. She has been a Metro Center TAC-D project associate since September 2013.
Ms. Zwerger has 12 years of experience as an educator and advocate for children’s rights, with a particular focus on improving outcomes for students of color. Ms. Zwerger’s expertise includes collaborative planning, effective problem solving for instructional support, improving school climate, and implementing positive discipline policies. As a project associate, she focuses on achieving racial equity in schools. Prior to her work with TAC-D, Ms. Zwerger worked toward ensuring schools adhere to civil rights laws, supported children who were victims of abuse or neglect, or were in contact with the juvenile justice system. She has taught in New York, Puerto Rico, and India. In addition to being a licensed attorney, she is a licensed teacher in New York State.
Dr. Maria G. Hernandez Project Associate
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 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.
Metropolitan Center for Urban Education
Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionality
726 Broadway, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10003