Patricia Hennessy brings to educational institutions and corporate America over twenty years of experience in the courtroom and the boardroom. Known for her ability to get to the heart of the matter quickly and thoroughly, clients praise her tremendous intellect and problem-solving skills. She anticipates problems and counsels her clients how to avoid those problems before they happen.
She is acknowledged as one of the top education lawyers in the country, representing and advising schools from the application drafting process through startup and ongoing operations. She is a charter schools advocate and activist, serving on the National Litigation Council for the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools and as a long-term member of the Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys. As part of her private school and boarding school practice, she is a board member of the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools. On a state level, Pat is active in legislative affairs on issues related to Pennsylvania School Code, education reform, school choice, and other related legislative areas that impact schools. Pat also consults with life sciences startup companies on startup operations, business development, and regulatory compliance.
Temple University School of Law, J.D., 1995
Temple University, B.A., cum laude, 1989
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Pat was born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia and is the mother of three sons. She is a trained soprano, and has sung with the Collegiate Choir of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.
Member, Pennsylvania Bar Association
Member, Chester County Bar Association
Member, Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys
Member, Board of Directors, Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools
Pat is a frequent speaker and presenter regionally and nationally on charter schools and education law.
“The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions: Latent Legal Threats,” National Alliance of Public Charter Schools National Conference; Austin, TX; June 2018.
“The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea: A Mindset of Ethical Decision Making for Administrators,” National Alliance of Public Charter Schools National Conference; Austin, TX; June 2018.
"Chartering in Philadelphia or the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools Meeting for Philadelphia Charter School Leaders; Philadelphia, PA; November 2017.
“From Sandusky to Solebury: Lessons from Pennsylvania on Educator Misconduct," Education Law Association 63rd Annual Conference; San Diego, CA; November 2017.
“How Schools Can Fortify Their Deflector Shields: Protecting Data Privacy of K-12 Students and Schools," Education Law Association 63rd Annual Conference; San Diego, CA; November 2017.
“The Care and Feeding of Your Board Policy Binder,” National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, Panelist, Annual National Conference; Washington, D.C.; June 2017.
“Educator Misconduct: How to Handle Claims Against Educators, from Allegation Through Litigation,” Education Law Association 62nd Annual Conference; Orlando, FL; November 2016.
“Understanding the School Landscape in a Transgender World” and “Educator Misconduct: How to Handle Claims Against Educators, from Allegation Through Litigation,” Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools, Bi-Annual Conference; Episcopal Academy, Newtown Square, PA; October 2016.
“‘Love Train’: Everything You Wanted to Know About Philadelphia Chartering... and Then Some,” National Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys Conference; Philadelphia, PA; September 2016.
“What is Special About Special Education?” Special Education Rights and Responsibilities Conference, Fox Rothschild Center for Law and Society; Community College of Philadelphia; September 2016.
“Philadelphia: A Case Study” (with Robert O’Donnell) and “Statewide Authorizer Assault: Are Opponents Taking Aim… Or Are District Authorizers Embracing Their Authority?” (with Dan Woodring and Lisa Scruggs), Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys’ Conference; Phoenix, AZ; April 2016.
“Special Education Compliance: Best Practices to Avoid Due Process Pitfalls,” Keystone Alliance of Public Charter Schools; Hershey, Pennsylvania; March 2016.
“Charter Schools in Pennsylvania,” Pennsylvania Bar Institute, February 2016.
“Educator Misconduct: How to Handle Claims Against Educators, from The Allegation Through Litigation,” Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools Inaugural Boarding Schools Conference, November 2015.
“Accessing District Space” and “The Inequity of Authorizer Imposed Enrollment Caps,” National Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys Conference; Seattle, WA; September 2015.
“Mandatory Reporting in a Post-Sandusky World” (featured speaker), Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools Bi-Annual Conference, October 2014.
“Legal Fundamentals for Non-Profit Boards,” Community College Non-Profit Institute, April 2014.
“Governing in the Cloud: Effective Governance of Virtual Charter Schools,” National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, Co-Presentation with Parker Baxter, National Association of Charter School Authorizer, Annual National Conference, Washington, D.C., July 2013.
“Serving Your Virtual Clients: What Virtual Providers Want to Know,” National Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys, Semiannual Meeting, Stanford Law School, Palo Alto, CA, May 2013.
“Live ListServe: Presentations on Status of Pennsylvania Charter School Law,” Enrollment Cap Litigation and Financial Crisis of the School District of Philadelphia, National Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys, Semiannual Meeting, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA, October 2011; Semiannual Meeting, Loyola University Chicago Law School, Chicago, IL, September 2013.
“Understanding Charter Schools’ Public-ness in the Context of Section 1983 Liability, Tort Immunity, and 11th Amendment Immunity,” National Alliance of Charter School Attorneys, Semiannual Meeting, Austin, TX, April 2012.
“Criminal Background Checks and Child Abuse Clearances,” Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools, August 2011.