Margaret M. Burley, 2003 “Pioneer in Education” Award Winner
Hello. I am Margaret Burley, Executive Director of the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities. My youngest son of four children, Tom Burley, is challenged with multiple disabilities from Congenital Rubella Syndrome. After struggling to ensure his education and not finding many resources to help me, I decided to make assisting families of children with disabilities my life’s work.
Being the parent of a child with a disability has made me and my family aware of the needs of other children with special needs. Seeing the many families and children with special needs over the years keeps me focused and keeps me going, always striving to learn more, to reach out more, and to make the needs of the children first and foremost in my endeavors.
I began my journey in 1972 by writing a letter to former President Richard Nixon about my son’s rights being violated. Continuing the work on this front, out of my home, I helped revive the Ohio Coalition. After traveling to the White House and meeting with congressional members, I was able to help write House Bill 455, Ohio’s legislative response to the federal enactment of Public Law 94-142, mandating the education of all children with handicaps.
Since that time, after several legislative bills and IDEA reauthorizations, parent trainings and countrywide networking, the Marion based Coalition has grown into a statewide organization employing 28 in 15 offices across the state, with a membership base of over 40 organizational members and 70 individual members. I have dedicated my life to the children, your children, and now people ask me all the time “when are you going to retire?” Well, this Ohio born and raised farm girl just simply cannot and will not ever quit helping our children meet life’s challenges, to be all they can be and to succeed in life.
If you, too, are a parent of a child with a disability and would like free assistance with your child’s educational needs, please do not hesitate to call us here at the Coalition at 740-382-5452 OR 844-382-5452.