About Jackie Gharapour Wernz
Legal Assistant: Mindy Irving | T: 469-421-6618 | email@example.com
Jackie brings a mix of unique perspectives to her representation of schools, colleges, universities, and other education-adjacent organizations. Her forebearers include some of the earliest Southern settlers in the U.S. on one side, but she is also the child of an immigrant. She was born and has deep roots in the rural Ozarks; since graduating from law school, though, she has called big cities home. She has over a decade of experience representing public and private schools, colleges, and universities in private practice, yet benefits from experience regulating educational institutions in the Federal government under two Presidential administrations. Jackie weaves these varied experiences together to provide unparalleled service and empathy to clients, whether they are rural, urban, or suburban, large or small, public or private.
Jackie’s breadth of legal experience means she can assist educational clients with almost any issue they face.
As a former civil rights attorney with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, Jackie has a deep understanding of civil rights law, including prohibitions on discrimination based on race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. She is a sought-after national speaker, media commentator, and expert witness in Title IX matters, including sex-based discrimination, harassment, assault and violence, and retaliation. She is the first call for many educational administrators and in-house lawyers seeking authoritative guidance on the changeable landscape of civil rights compliance in Title IX and beyond.
Jackie has trained thousands of school, college, university, and other educational administrators and employees across the country on regulatory and other legal compliance issues, including Title IX and other federal civil rights laws. She advises, represents, and serves as an outside contractor regarding internal complaints of employment and education discrimination, retaliation, and other noncompliance, including serving as an outside investigator, decision-maker, and informal resolution facilitator in formal Title IX complaints. She conducts regulatory and compliance reviews and audits for institutions on sex discrimination and harassment, general civil rights compliance, and—calling on her experience as a former member of OCR’s Title IX athletics team—athletics equity and NCAA compliance matters.
Jackie is an experienced and passionate litigator at the trial and appellate level. Her experience involves numerous cases alleging sexual harassment in education and employment, disability discrimination and harassment, and violations of other Federal civil rights laws. She uses her litigation skills and experience working with the U.S. government to represent clients in all stages of proceedings in Federal court; in administrative hearings, including employee dismissal hearings and disability rights hearings; with entities such as the NCAA; and in proceedings before agencies such as the U.S. Department of Education (including OCR) and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.
Jackie is passionate about helping K-12 schools meet their crucial goal of educating the future leaders of our nation. Her legal experience concerning elementary and secondary schools includes issues involving students, employees, regulatory and compliance, education technology, teacher and staff dismissals and discipline, contract negotiations, immigration, and business and operations.
Jackie’s higher education experience includes advising, consulting, and litigating on behalf of clients regarding issues such as sexual harassment (Title IX and Clery), other harassment and discrimination issues (such as Title VI and Title VII), student aid (Title IV), student and employee accommodations (ADA and Section 504), student records (FERPA), and collegiate athletic (Title IX and NCAA).
Jackie helps schools, colleges, and universities at all levels with crafting legally compliant policies, procedures, handbooks, and webpage content. She helps public entities with public records requests and open meetings issues. She advises clients on all issues related to education technology, including the myriad data security and privacy issues inherent in the use of educational applications, tools, and other products in schools. She frequently drafts, reviews, and negotiates contracts and agreements, including sophisticated transactions involving education technology and privacy.
Jackie attended the University of Virginia School of Law. She was a recipient of the Dillard Scholarship, the Law School’s premier full merit scholarship, and a member of the editorial board for the Virginia Law Review. Jackie is a summa cum laude graduate of the Donaghey Scholars honors program at the University of Arkansas Little Rock. In college, she triple-majored in English Literature, History, and French.
Jackie is currently licensed in the state of Illinois and is in the process of obtaining her license to practice in the state of Texas.
- J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 2007, Hardy Cross Dillard Scholar
- B.A., University of Arkansas Little Rock, 2004, summa cum laude, Donaghey Scholar
Licensing & Court Admissions
- Licensed in the state of Illinois
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Central and Northern District of Illinois
Jackie is in the process of obtaining her license to practice in the state of Texas.
Memberships & Recognitions
- Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Star in Schools & Education
- Law Bulletin Publishing Emerging Lawyer in Education Law
Selected Client Representations
- Audited higher education institutions’ sexual harassment and misconduct policies, procedures, and practices
- Served as an independent investigator and decision-maker for educational institutions regarding complaints involving sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation
- Represented schools in high-profile complaints before the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), including complaints involving Title IX and transgender rights and a school’s response to student-on-student sexual assault
- Provided interactive, engaging training to hundreds of a school’s employees on sexual harassment, including Title IX, and other types of harassment, bullying, and misconduct
- Obtained significant concessions from national student-information-system provider relating to student data privacy and data breach protections
- Member of school district trial team from discovery through trial in a class-action federal lawsuit alleging constitutional and civil rights violations against minority and limited English proficient (“LEP”) students
- Obtained dismissals of numerous complaints against national private research universities, including for academic dismissal of a student under various legal theories in Federal court
- Successfully represented school district in several high-profile Illinois teacher dismissal hearings, including those involving sexual assault and harassment, hazing, and substance abuse
- Constitutional questions, including those involving discipline for student’s off-campus, online misconduct and other First and Fourth Amendment issues
- “It’s Time for Title IX: New Rule, New Regime,” Illinois Bar Journal (September 2020)
- “Shield and Sword: The Law as a Driver for Educational Equity,” American School Board Journal (April 2020)
Representative Speeches & Presentations
- “Is Bullying Back? Staff and Student Speech and the Resurgence of the First Amendment,” National School Boards Association Council of School Attorneys Online School Law Seminar (April 2021)
- “The First 90 Days of the Biden/Harris Administration and the Future of Special Education,” LRP National Institute (April 2021)
- “The Life Cycle of a Title IX Complaint in Practice – Parts One and Two” (October 2020), NSBA COSA Online School Law Practice Seminar (co-presenter with Sarah Orman, Texas Association of School Boards and Thompson & Horton LLP’s Holly McIntush and Jessica Witte)
- Moderator and Main Presenter, NSBA COSA Weekly & Monthly Title IX Webinars (July-December 2020)
- “Advisors in Title IX Investigations: Legal, Regulatory, and Public Policy Considerations,” ANKURA Webinar (July 2020)
- “The New Title IX: Unexpected Consequences for K-12 Labor & Employment,” American Association of School Personnel Administrators Webinar (June 2020)
- “Technology & Special Education,” LRP National Institute (May 2020)
- “Attorney Ethics in Investigations,” LRP National Institute (May 2020)
- New Title IX Sexual Harassment Rule and What it Means for K-12 Schools,” NSBA COSA Webinar (May 2020) (with Sarah Orman, Texas Association of School Boards)
- “Title IX and Employee Rights: The Hidden Risks Every Administrator Should Know,” ATIXA West Coast Annual Conference (October 2019)
- Too Close For Comfort? Risky Relationships in Schools,” AASPA Annual Conference (October 2019)
- “Top Legal Trends and Sticky Human Resources Situations to Know in 2019,” AASPA Annual Conference (October 2019).
- “The ‘New’ New OCR Case Processing Manual: Significant Changes for Public School Civil Rights Enforcement,” NSBA COSA Webinar (November 2018)