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.


Dr. Patrick Jean-Pierre
Project Director
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.

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.

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 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