Updated: May 17, 2018
On Saturday, May 12, 2018, the nationally-renowned special education attorney and chair of the annual LRP Institute, Melinda Jacobs, died unexpectedly in her home at age 59. It is impossible to quantify the incredible impact that Melinda had on both the fields of law and special education. Her contributions were unmatched, and the lives of countless students, educators, school leaders, and fellow attorneys were changed as a result of her dedication to the field of special education law that she loved so much.
It saddens me beyond words to think of the loss that both professions have suffered as a result of her premature passing, but I am thankful for the precious time that we were all able to have with her and for everything she was able to teach us. Melinda has been a hero of mine for many, many years, as I know she was to so many others. I was fortunate enough to have been able to finally meet and speak with her in person just a few weeks ago at the LRP Institute in Dallas, and she was every bit as charming, gracious, funny, and kind as I had imagined she would be. (And when I found out that she could sing, too, I almost fell out of my chair yet somehow, at the same time, wasn’t the least bit surprised that she really could do it all...).
Although I knew her to be the foremost expert in the field of special education law, it was her humility and humanity that was most striking in person. Her deep love of education and the law was genuine, and her appreciation and affection for the people around her was evident. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who, like me, is struggling to understand this terrible loss, especially those with whom she was closest.
Although she was taken from us far too soon, Melinda accomplished so much and touched the lives of so many. Her life was truly a gift, and I am blessed to have known her. May her soul be at peace, singing with the angels!
Erin D. Gilsbach, Esq.