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    Welcome to Devoted Advocates

  • We Help with Special Education Needs

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    We Are Devoted to You and Your Child

Devoted Advocates: Great Support – Also Great Services

Debra Burdman provides services as a Special Education Advocate to support and empower parents and caregivers of children with special needs including the following disabilities:

  • Autism
  • Deaf-Blindness
  • Developmental Delay
  • Emotional Disturbance
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Visual Impairment, including Blindness
  • Other Health Impairments
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Speech or Language Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

Devoted Advocates Is Here for You and Your Child

Debra's goal is to support, coach, and advocate for you and your child to achieve the best possible learning outcome and to obtain all necessary Special Education services for their support. My vast knowledge of Special Education law, prior teaching experience and certification as a Special Ed Advocate all benefit you in working with school districts in a knowledgeable and collaborative way.



Devoted Advocates...

  • Empowers and Coaches Parents
  • Attends Meetings, Assists in the Writing and Proper Implementation of IEP/504/ISP Plans
  • Assists with Eligibility Issues
  • Provides Assessment Interpretation/IEEs
  • Helps Write and Implement Behavior Support Plans/ABA
  • Assists in Manifestation Determination Review Meetings and Suspension Hearings
Debra Burdman, Special Ed Advocate

Debra Burdman
Certified Special Ed Advocate
MA, Education

Special Education Advocate for San Diego County
8052 Auberge Circle
San Diego, CA 92127
Phone: (619) 889-1003

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About Us

What We Do

An advocate can collaborate with their school in a friendly way, with the ability of keeping the emotional piece separate and have the expertise and knowledge to get your child the best program possible.

About Debra Burdman
Debra Burdman

I have taught for several years as a Resource Specialist, in various public and private school settings, and worked with a variety of different age groups from the Preschool level to the Community College level. My undergraduate degree included training in teaching both the mild and severe special education classes and also general education classes. My Master's Degree had an emphasis in Learning Handicapped.

I have taught in three different states, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and California, with the majority of my teaching in California. After teaching for several years I became interested in the Advocacy piece after having attended so many IEPS and being a vital member of the IEP Team and wanting to find out even more about the California laws regarding Special Education. I was so excited to hear that our very own, University of San Diego, offered a Certificate program in Special Education Advocacy as part of their Law School and decided to enter their program. After receiving my certificate, I  applied for an Internship at Compass Family Services, associated with USD and was lucky to be chosen. I worked as an advocate the past six months for clients in many different school districts, all around San Diego County and have received the best experience possible for a new advocate.

In addition to my past schooling and work I am the proud mother of three wonderful grown children, having gained the knowledge of how emotionally bound a parent can be to their own kids. By this, I've learned that sometimes you need to step back and get the  support of an outside professional to help you seek out answers,  so that you can provide the best that life has to offer to them. An advocate can collaborate with their school in a friendly way, with the ability of keeping the emotional piece separate and have the expertise and knowledge to get your child the best program possible. In addition, our community offers many valuable resources for your children and family that I would be happy to share with you.

B.S. Penn State University
M.A. Education San Diego State University
California Community Colleges Instructor Certificate
Certified Special Education Advocacy, University of San Diego


How Devoted Advocates Can Help You and Your Child

Services That Debra Offers
  • Represents the best interests of the student in the educational process
  • Empowers and educates families (parents and students) to strengthen their own advocacy skills
  • Accompanies you to IEPs, IFSPs, SSTs, or 504 meetings with you to provide advice and assistance
  • Can provide classroom observation reports
  • Help you write effective letters to your school district
  • Help you obtain a copy of your child's educational records
  • Helps interpret the meaning of assessments and reports to parents, and explain their significance to the child's educational needs
  • Reviews all special education documents, including files, assessments, report cards, observation  reports
  • Help you to organize those records
  • Help to ensure that your child's IEP is well written; that it has accurate “present levels of functioning and performance” and measurable goals, with the appropriateness services and support meeting those goals
  • Reviews IEP or 504 or other documents before you sign them
  • Teach you how to make a “paper trail”
  • Assist you in filing compliance complaints with the statements
  • Help make sure your school district is “playing by the rules”
  • Help you find an experienced and qualified independent assessor and obtain an independent educational evaluation
  • Help you find tutors, reading specialists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, or other specialists that your child might need
  • Drafts letters, responses, complaints and written requests to school and district officials
  • Assist you if you are ready to take your case to due process, an advocate can help advise you on the strength of your case and make referrals to local special education attorneys, if need be
Debra offers to meet you for a 30 minute consultation at no charge for clients that live in San Diego County.

Has This Happened to You?

Do you recognize these situations?

  • Your school district says your child is not eligible for special education services at all, saying  that your child is “average,” or earning average grades and is passing his or her classes, even if you know your child is struggling to do so and you are providing a tremendous amount of support yourself
  • Do you believe that the IEP offered to your child is one which has been tailored, personalized and specially designed to meet the unique needs of your child?
  • You are unsure of the different timelines that are involved for different options from the moment of asking for eligibility testing to having the best possible educational plan for your child.
  • Do you believe that the school district's offer is truly FAPE (free, appropriate public education) for your child?
  • You walked into your first IEP Meeting where it was just you and 8 to 10 district personnel?
  • Do you feel so emotionally wrapped up that the process seems overwhelming?
  • Has the school district failed or refused to provide needed accommodations or modifications that were supposed to be implemented and you child is still failing his/her classes?
  • Perhaps your child has been suspended or expelled at school due to the school's failure to address behavior that is related to your child's disability?

If any of these situations have happened to you and you don't know what to do about them, an advocate will be able to help you.

More Information

Additional material and resources to assist you

Differences between an IEP and a 504

IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) is an education act that provides federal funding for special education. The purpose is to provide financial aid to states in their efforts to ensure a free appropriate education for students with disabilities. A student is eligible to receive special education and/or related services if the multidisciplinary team determines that the student has a disability under one of the thirteen qualifying conditions and requires special education services. IDEA requires the district to provide an individual education program (IEP). The IEP provides an 'Appropriate Education' which means a program designed to provide 'Educational Benefit'. The classification categories are:

Intellectually handicapped
Learning disabled
Behavior disordered
Communication disordered
Other health impaired

Hearing impaired
Visually impaired
Developmentally delayed-preschool
Traumatic brain injury autism

SECTION 504 (Rehabilitation Act of 1973)

Section 504 is a civil rights law that provides federal funding for general education. The purpose is to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal assistance from the department of education. Section 504 requires a written accommodation plan. A student is eligible as long he/she currently has or has had a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity. The seven major life activities include:


Some examples of possible 504 disabilities are:

attention Deficit /Hyperactivity Disorder
communicable diseases: HIV, TB
physical disabilities
temporary disabling conditions

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