Gladiator Law Marketing for Attorneys
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Empowering Families Through Legal Expertise in Special Education With Mariann Crincoli

February 21, 2024   |   Written by Gladiator Law Marketing
Mariann Crincoli Mariann CrincoliMariann Crincoli is a Partner at Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler, a law firm renowned for its dedication to special education law in New Jersey. She brings nearly three decades of legal expertise to her role, and her career is distinguished by a steadfast commitment to advocating for children with special needs, ensuring they receive the necessary educational support and services from public school districts. Mariann’s practice encompasses a wide array of education law matters, including special education, student discipline, and anti-bullying initiatives, alongside issues related to constitutional rights, residency, and employment within educational settings. Beyond her legal practice, Mariann has served as General Counsel for notable non-profit organizations, contributing her skills to support the underprivileged in New Jersey. A graduate of Seton Hall University, where she achieved summa cum laude honors, Mariann is an active member of the New Jersey Bar Association and holds bar admissions in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • What does Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler specialize in?
  • Mariann Crincoli shares how she discovered and pursued her passion for law
  • Why Mariann chose to specialize in special education law
  • The differences between special education law and guardianship
  • Challenges in representing clients in bullying cases
  • The significant increase in emotional and social deficits among children during the pandemic

In this episode…

In the intricate world of special education law, families often find themselves navigating a maze of legalities and school policies to secure the rights and services their children deserve. How can these families overcome such daunting obstacles and ensure their children receive the education and support they need? According to Mariann Crincoli, a seasoned special education attorney with nearly three decades of experience, the answer lies in expert legal advocacy and a deep understanding of both the law and the unique needs of children with disabilities. She emphasizes the importance of a tailored approach that addresses the individual challenges and rights of children within the education system. This strategy involves not only securing appropriate educational plans and services but also advocating for the mental health support and anti-bullying measures necessary for a safe and conducive learning environment. In this episode of 15 Minutes, Chad Franzen sits down with Mariann Crincoli, Partner at Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler, to explore the critical role of legal expertise in empowering families navigating special education. They discuss Mariann’s journey from representing school districts to advocating for children with special needs, the impact of the pandemic on students’ mental health and education, and successful strategies for securing necessary educational support and services.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01   You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know but likely don’t. Chad Franzen  0:12   Hi. Chad Franzen here, one of the hosts of Share Your Voice where we talk with top notch law firms and lawyers about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, delivering tailor made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best RO, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and decades of experienced outperform the competition. To learn more, go to where you can schedule a free marketing consultation. Mariann Crincoli is a special education attorney with nearly 30 years of experience. Mariann represents families of children with special needs to obtain appropriate educational support and services from the local public school districts. She also works with families whose children have been involved in bullying matters at school. Mariann, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you? Mariann Crincoli  1:09   Thank you, Chad. Thanks for having me. Fine. Thank you, and how are you? Chad Franzen  1:12   Good, thanks. Hey, thanks. Yeah, it’s great to have you. Thanks so much for joining me. Hey, if you could tell me a little bit more about what you do and kind of about your firm that you work with Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler. Mariann Crincoli  1:24   Sure. So we represent children who have special needs, disabilities ranging from Attention Deficit Disorder, to autism to emotional deficits and everything in between. Generally families come to us when their child’s disability is impacting them in their educational setting, whether it’s a decline in grades, or issues with social or emotional learning anything in that regard, and they require special supports and services in order to really access their education and be on an equal playing field with their neurotypical peers, to the extent appropriate. So what we do do is we work with families to get those services and support from their local public school districts either in the way of a 504 plan, or an individualized education plan under the IDA. My law firm Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler has been practicing in this boutique specialized area for more than 50 years. And we are proudly the preeminent special education law firm in the state of New Jersey, and we have a statewide practice. We have cases as far south as Kate Mae, up to Tenafly, which borders New York City, so we are a statewide practice. We also offer estate planning services, and special needs, planning trusts and estates, as well as work with families whose children have been involved in bullying matters during their school years. Chad Franzen  3:15   Okay, well, that’s, that’s very interesting. You’re the first attorney that I have spoken with that kind of works for a firm that has that specialization in the first attorney who who specializes in the things he specialized. So I’d like to get more, more into that as we go along. But first, tell me how and when did you know you wanted to become an attorney? Mariann Crincoli  3:34   That’s a great question. You know, a lot of people would sit here and tell you that they that they knew when they were young children and that they want it to be and that really isn’t my case at all. I was in college, I think I was a sophomore in college. And I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I majored in communications and history. I love to write, I love to do research. And I always felt like I was a strong advocate for myself or anybody that I cared about. And so the decision sort of just came upon me like, wow, law school would allow me to do a lot of research and a lot of writing. And I really always enjoyed learning about the law. So I sort of put two and two together and decided that law school was for me. Chad Franzen  4:22   Okay, great. And as I mentioned in your intro, you’ve been you have decades of experience. Tell me how you got started. You went to Seton Hall, I believe for law school, correct? How did you kind of get started then in the, you know, the professional legal industry. Mariann Crincoli  4:36   So following law school, I clerked for a judge for a year which a lot of young attorneys do. And it clarified for me that I really didn’t want to be a trial attorney. So I started at a firm that actually represented one school district, and I got involved in those matters and I Really enjoyed them. So the firm that I went to next a had an actual focus on representing school districts. And I got involved in working in that department and I worked on special education matters. But I also worked on all other matters that school districts face, contractual disputes, employment issues, disciplinary matters, both student and staff, school board governance. And it was very interesting, I really enjoyed it. And I did it for many, many years. And then, as I started to do more special education, I really felt a connection with the families as I was sitting in these meetings, as the school district representative, and I had an opportunity to switch sides. And I thought that my insight into how school districts operate, and their constraints and their goals, would really shed a unique light on the matters on behalf of families. So for the last seven years, I’ve been representing Fit Families. Chad Franzen  6:13   Yeah, that’s, that’s great. So have you. Have you always been passionate about special education and matters associated with it? Or is it just kind of something that you’ve kind of discovered? And while you’re used to love it now? Mariann Crincoli  6:26   I discovered it while I was representing school districts. So yeah, go ahead. Oh, no. So I was gonna say one of the unique things about our firm is that all of us have a connection with special education. We either were special needs children growing up, or we have special needs individuals in our families. So we live this professionally as well as personally. Chad Franzen  6:56   And then you also have done some work regarding guardianship matters. Is that right? Mariann Crincoli  7:01   Yes, I have done that work. And my firm actually does that work. Now we have a partner who dedicates his practice. To that work, I represented not only hospitals, in guardianship matters where they have, they had patients who were in need of Guardians, and the hospital would actually make an application for the court to appoint someone as guardian. So I represented the hospital in many cases, and I also served as guardian to some individuals who did not have family members to take on that role. Chad Franzen  7:40   Does your approach to guardianship matters influenced your approach to education law. Mariann Crincoli  7:47   Ah, I don’t know I actually never thought about it that way. Guardian ships are more often than not reserved for individuals who are older than 18. So there are adults who lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. Our special needs kiddos. Some are very impaired, but some are not as impaired as others and go on to do great things in life making their own decisions. Chad Franzen  8:20   You also work with families whose kids are dealing with bullying issues at school, what are some of the challenges in representing clients in kind of those harassment, intimidation and bullying cases? Mariann Crincoli  8:32   So there are quite a few challenges. The way the law in New Jersey is written is quite broad. And school districts have significant discretion in conducting investigations and holding their board meetings when there are appeals of those decisions. Sometimes the law is applied to broad Lee and sometimes it’s applied to narrowly we have some school districts who are I don’t want to say eager, but they’re more inclined to find a bullying matter and some who don’t substantiate bullying cases when they really should. And the difficulty is that the another difficulty is that the investigations are done really by lay people who have minimal training in how to conduct an investigation. So my role is to really take a look at those investigation records, to see whether the investigations were done properly, comprehensively, whether the appropriate witnesses were interviewed and whether the appropriate questions were asked of those witnesses. So there are quite a few challenges the law itself, the way the investigations are conducted, and sometimes the community and political agenda in in certain In public school districts really impact the trajectory of those cases. Chad Franzen  10:05   How did you kind of come together with Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler? Mariann Crincoli  10:12   So interestingly, when I was a school district attorney, I had many cases with Staci Greenwald. We were on opposite sides, we developed a great rapport. And there was an opportunity at Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler. And we spoke of it and I seized on the opportunity. Chad Franzen  10:33   I know you worked for you were a general counsel for some nonprofit organizations, how did that experience kind of shape your perspective and your career moving forward before you came here? Mariann Crincoli  10:46   So both nonprofits were community development organizations, and both provided educational services to underprivileged. So while I had represented school districts for many years before taking on the General Counsel roles, I knew that I didn’t want to completely give up being involved in education matters. So those roles allowed me to keep my hands, so to speak, in the education world. And so they gave me that opportunity, as well as opportunity and understanding the business of nonprofits. Chad Franzen  11:29   Are there any actually what what are some kind of, of the latest trends or challenges that you’re dealing with now and special education law in special education that you, you’re kind of, you know, following or dealing with, I know, you also publish articles in professional journals, what are some things that might be hot topics at the moment. Mariann Crincoli  11:49   So with the pandemic, we saw a significant increase in cases involving children with emotional and social deficits. So if you think about, you know, the fact that our youth are meant to be in school in a social setting on a on a, you know, a daily basis, they are stuck at home, you know, learning on a computer, not really being able to socialize, a lot of that impact caused a difficulty for many of these students to return to school and function in a typical way. So we have seen a mental health crisis amongst our youth throughout the pandemic. And that crisis continues to impact these children’s today. So the rise in emotional disabilities is something that we are seeing a lot of we have a lot of cases involving kids who are struggling with anxiety, and depression. And there is a classification category called emotional regulation impairment, which if a student meets the criteria for that category of classification, they may be eligible for special education and related services. However, these students are really difficult to program for, because school districts are typically not in the business of providing mental health support to public school students. But the law says that they are required to address the whole child and meet the needs of the whole child. So we’re seeing a lot of initiatives in public schools for social emotional learning. And we’re also seeing some strong mental health programs arising in many of the school districts across the state of New Jersey, which enable a child to actually get into the school building, when previously they weren’t able to do that. If a public school can’t meet a child’s needs, who has emotional disabilities, then we’re in a position sometimes to have to ask for a placement in a therapeutic out of district school. So it really depends on the nature and severity of the disability, the needs of the child and what the school district actually has to offer. Chad Franzen  14:22   Is there are there some moments or some particularly memorable occasions in your career that you kind of look back on that are most proud of that you’re most proud of? Mariann Crincoli  14:33   There are many, and most of them come from satisfied clients whose child receives the appropriate supports that we advocate for and winds up being very successful. And we ask our clients to stay in touch with us and let us know how their child progresses through the years. And when we receive you know, pause To do Google reviews and Facebook reviews, it is it is very rewarding to know that you’ve made a positive impact in a child’s life is very professionally rewarding. Chad Franzen  15:13   When you were in law school, you know, you don’t think you had any doubts that you wanted to become an attorney. Did you ever see yourself doing this going down this road? Mariann Crincoli  15:25   I did, because I took the law in only school law course that my law school offer, and I absolutely loved it. So it’s no surprise to me that I quickly figured out that this was going to be my niche, and that this was going to be the direction my career would take. Chad Franzen  15:43   How can people find out more about Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler? Mariann Crincoli  15:48   So we have a firm website, We are on Facebook, we lecture on a monthly basis. We lecture at out of district, public schools, we lecture in libraries, we do podcasts like this. We also are involved in the New Jersey Institute for continuing legal education. So if there are any lawyers out there who want to know more about what we do for referral purposes, we often provide seminars on what we do. And we’re involved in many organizations where we sponsor lectures, and we’re on Facebook and other social media. Chad Franzen  16:40   Last question for you. So so let’s say there’s parents out there with with children who have special needs, or whatever, and they hear you, but they don’t know for sure if they qualify for your assistance. What would you say to people like that? Are there anybody with kids with special needs baby to keep you in mind? Mariann Crincoli  16:56   Give us a call. We always will have a conversation with you to find out a little bit about your matter. And if we think that we can help you, we will invite you to a virtual consultation, where we will review all of your records in advance of meeting with you and we’ll sit down and we’ll develop a legal strategy for you. We can be reached at 6094093500. Chad Franzen  17:23   Okay, hey, Mariann, it’s been great to talk to you. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for your time and all your insights. Mariann Crincoli  17:28   Thanks, Chad. It was great to meet with you. Chad Franzen  17:31   So long, everybody. Outro  17:34   Thanks for listening to 15 Minutes. Be sure to subscribe and we’ll see you next time.


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