Katherine Riggs, a retired member of the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, now serves as Of Counsel at Garcia Hernández Sawhney, LLP. In addition to three decades of experience serving as lead attorney on a full range of complex civil rights compliance reviews addressing race, national origin, sex and disability, Katie is recognized as an expert on programs for English learners.
Katie began her career as a Judicial Clerk with the Alaska Supreme Court before joining an Oakland based law firm, where, for a few years she focused her practice on employment discrimination, student rights, and teacher’s rights, including but not limited to representing students, teachers and teachers’ unions in state and federal litigation and administrative hearings. In 1988, she left the law firm and joined the San Francisco branch of the OCR, where she remained until her retirement in August 2019.
While at OCR, Katie developed expertise on diverse issues, including English learners, parent communications, racial and sexual harassment, services to students with disabilities, equal access and retaliation, and she conducted internal trainings and mentoring for OCR regional staff. In addition, she developed and coordinated technical assistance initiatives and provided formal presentations, consultation and assistance to school districts, colleges and universities, county offices of education and state department of education offices on various issues related to civil rights and English learners.
While at GHS, Katie plans to selectively continue her work mentoring, supporting and training our next generation of experts in the educational rights of students with disabilities, investigation of complaints of sexual harassment, retaliation, and other civil rights issues.
- Programs for English learners
- Communication with LEP Parents
- Equal access to educational resources and advanced courses
- Overrepresentation of African American students in special education
- Services to incarcerated and dependent youth
- Harassment based on race, sex, and disability
- Services to students with disabilities in elementary and secondary schools
- Services to students with disabilities in colleges and universities
- Student Issues / Special Education
- University of California, Berkeley School of Law (J.D.)
- Harvard University (A.B.)
- S. District Court, Northern District of California
Improving Education for English Learners, a compendium of research published by the California Department of Education (Manuscript Reviewer)