Miriam Van Heukelem

Tel/Direct:

515-246-0342

Tel/Main:

515-243-7611

Address:

100 Court Avenue, Suite 600
Des Moines, IA 50309-2231

Court Admissions

All Iowa Courts

U.S. District Courts – Northern and Southern Districts of Iowa

U.S. Court of Appeals – Eighth Circuit

Education

J.D. (Highest Honors), Drake University, 2009

B.A., The George Washington University, 2003

Bar Admissions

Iowa, 2009

Background

Miriam provides comprehensive legal representation to school districts, area education agencies, colleges and universities, and other municipal entities in the state of Iowa. She provides counsel and represents clients in mediation and litigation in a variety of matters, including employment, special education, and student rights. Her practice also includes drafting and negotiating contracts, policies, and procedures to assist her clients with maintaining legal compliance in their day-to-day operations.  Miriam also assists a variety of entities by conducting or assisting with internal investigations.

Prior to law school, Miriam dedicated three years to teaching middle school on Chicago’s south side through Teach for America. Miriam continues her passion for teaching by presenting at numerous conferences, meetings, and staff trainings on education and employment-related topics. She is an adjunct professor for Viterbo University, and is also on the faculty of the Iowa Superintendents Finance and Leadership Consortium Conference and the Iowa School Business Management Academy.

While at Drake University Law School, she served as Articles Editor for the Drake Law Review and was selected as a member of the Order of the Coif, the Order of the Barristers, the C. Edwin Moore Inn of Court, and the National Moot Court team.

Representative Projects

  • Successful defense of school district and area education agency in civil action arising under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in which the student’s parent challenged virtually every aspect of the student’s special education program.  Bohn v. Cedar Rapids Cmty. Sch. Dist. and Grant Wood Area Educ. Agency, 116 LRP 48692 (N.D. Iowa Nov. 18, 2016).
  • Successful defense of school district and area education agency in appeal of parent’s claim seeking reimbursement for out-of-state tuition reimbursement under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  Sneitzer v. Iowa Dep’t of Educ. et al., 796 F.3d 942 (8th Cir. 2015).
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of school district and individually-named defendants in federal lawsuit alleging employment discrimination.  Duarte v. Colo-NESCO Community School District et al., no. 4:12-cv-00456 (S.D. Iowa Mar. 27, 2014).
  • Successful defense of school district in federal lawsuit brought by a parent claiming violations of constitutional due process and equal protection.  Schmidt v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist., 655 F.3d 811 (8th Cir. 2011).

Memberships

American Bar Association

Iowa State Bar Association

Polk County Bar Association

National School Boards Association, Council of School Attorneys

Iowa Council of School Board Attorneys

Polk County Women Attorneys

Recognitions

Super Lawyers Great Plains - Rising Star: Schools & Education (2018)

Chambers USA - Litigation: General Commercial - Associate to Watch (2015-2016), Up and Coming (2017)

Order of the Coif

Honorary Order of the Barristers

Speaking/Presentations

Miriam's most recent speaking engagements include:

Iowa Public Employer Labor Relations Association (IaPELRA), Winter Conference, "Transgender Issues in Employment," December 2018

Iowa Association of School Business Officials, Fall Conference, "FMLA Break-Out Session," October 2018

Iowa Association of School Boards, Employee Relations Conference, "Investigating Allegation of Sexual Harassment & Assault in the #MeToo Era," October 2018

Iowa Association of School Business Officials, Payroll Conference, "Public Employer Garnishments," October 2018

Ahlers & Cooney P.C., Employment Law Client Seminar, "Sexual Harassment in the #MeToo Era" with Ann Smisek, October 2018

Iowa Department of Education, Special Education Symposium, "Legal Update," June 2018

Ahlers & Cooney, Special Education Client Seminar, "A  New Standard for FAPE: Navigating Endrew F", "Restraint and Seclusion" with Katherine Beeneken, "Evaluation and Eligibility: Something Old, Something New",  February 2018

Iowa Association of School Business Officials, IASBO Fall Conference, "FMLA: A Legal Overview," October 2017

Iowa Council of School Board Attorneys, Bi-Annual Meeting, "It's Raining Cats and Dogs: Service and Therapy Animals in School," July 2017

Professional, Community and Civic Leadership

Ashcraft Library Project, Board Secretary (2015 - present)

Polk County Juvenile Drug Court Collective, Board of Directors (2015 - present)

Polk County Women Attorneys, Board of Directors (2013 - present)

Iowa State Bar Association – Young Lawyers Division, District 5C Representative (2014-2016)

Iowa Legal Aid, Volunteer Intake Attorney

Volunteer Judge, Drake Moot Court Program