Paul T. O’Neill is one of the nation’s foremost experts on the legal issues impacting education reform. His professional experience spans the education sector. Paul served for several years as General Counsel of the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, one of the nation’s leading charter school authorizing offices. After this public service, he went into private practice in the boutique national education law firm of Brustein & Manasevit and moved on to hold positions of Senior Vice President, Chief Regulatory Officer, head education lawyer and Senior Fellow for EdisonLearning, the national school management and services organization. Notably, Paul led Edison’s efforts to engage in the post-Katrina revitalization of public schooling in New Orleans. He is a former Associate Director of the Newgrange School and Educational Outreach Center in New Jersey, which serves individuals with learning disabilities, and a former litigator in the New York offices of Dewey Ballantine LLP and Willkie, Farr & Gallagher LLP.
Special education is one of Paul’s primary interests and areas of legal expertise. He frequently advises clients on federal and state laws impacting students with disabilities, and serves as Co-founder and Senior Fellow of the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools.
On the academic side, Paul serves on the adjunct faculty of Columbia University’s Teachers College, where he teaches courses on education law and policy, including Designing Charter Schools, Private School Law and Special Education Law & Policy. In 2011, he was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from Teachers College for achievement within 10 years of graduation.
Paul serves as the co-chair of the firm’s education law group.
- Columbia University Teachers College (M.Ed.)
- University of Virginia School of Law (J.D.)
- Oberlin College (B.A.)
- New York
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York
- Advises many charter schools on the legal issues they face.
- Serves as counsel to a wide range of education sector entities, such as charter management organizations, education management organizations, foundations, service providers and not for profit organizations.
- Provides governance training and expertise to schools and not for profit organizations.
- Areas of emphasis include special education, student discipline, charter school authorizing, closure and replication.
Paul is the author of several books and numerous scholarly and professional articles, including:
- “Students with Disabilities and School Choice,” by Robert Garda, Jr., Wendy Hansel, and Paul O’Neill (2022) The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Education Law
- “It’s not OK to exclude students with disabilities from in-person instruction | Opinion” by Paul T. O’Neill, NJ.com (September 29, 2021)
- “Charter Schools and Special Education: Ensuring Legal Compliance and Effectiveness Through Capacity Building,” by Robert A. Garda and Paul T. O’Neill (June 10, 2021). 50. U. Memphis L. Rev. 947 (2020), Loyola University New Orleans College of Law Research Paper No. 2021-04, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3864252
- “Education staff on laws, practices to prevent cyberbullying of students with disabilities,” Paul T. O’Neill and Patricia A. Hennessy contributed to article written by Florence Simmons, Special Ed Connection by LRP Publications (April 22, 2021)
- Charter School Law Deskbook (Lexis Nexis Publishers)
- No Child Left Behind Compliance Manual (LRP Publications)
- “A User Guide to Fiscal Oversight: A Toolkit for Charter School Governing Boards and Authorizers,” by Paul T. O’Neill and Suzie Kim, National Charter School Resource Center/U.S. Department of Education (October 2016)
- “Getting Lost While Trying to Follow the Money: Special Education Finance in Charter Schools,” by Paul T. O’Neill, Lauren Morando Rhim, Amy Ruck, Kathryn Huber and Sivan Tuchman, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (November 2015)
- “Equity at Scale: How Public Charter School Networks Can Innovate and Improve Services for Students with Disabilities,” by Paul T. O’Neill and Lauren Morando Rhim, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (February 2015)
- “Improving Access and Creating Exceptional Opportunities for Students with Disabilities in Public Charter Schools,” by Paul T. O’Neill and Lauren Morando Rhim, National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (October 2013)
- “The Unique System of Charter Schools in New Orleans After Hurricane Katrina: Distinctive Structure, Familiar Challenges,” by Paul T. O’Neill and Renita Thukral, Loyola University New Orleans Journal of Public Interest Law, Vol. 11.2 (Spring 2010)
- “Maximizing Effectiveness: Focusing the Microscope on Charter School Governing Boards,” by Paul T. O’Neill, Priscilla Wohlstetter, Joanna Smith and Caitlin Farrell, National Resource Center on Charter School Finance & Governance (Spring 2009)
- Recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award (Early Career), Teachers College, Columbia University (2011)
Paul is a frequent guest lecturer at colleges and universities on a range of education reform topics.
Committed to community service, Paul helped found charter schools in the South Bronx, Brooklyn, the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and New Orleans, in addition to the following commitments:
- Adjunct Assistant Professor, Teachers College, Columbia University
- Senior Fellow, National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools
- Trustee, New York City Autism Charter School
- Member, New York City Bar Association
- Board Member, Learning Disabilities Association of New York City
- Chair, Manhattan Charter and Manhattan Charter School II Board of Trustees (2007–2014)
- Professional Advisory Board, National Center for Learning Disability (2000–2010)
- Chair, Education & Law Committee, New York City Bar Association (2005–2007)