Kala Shah Surprenant is a senior attorney from the Office of the General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Since 2000, she has provided advice to ED employees on legal and policy issues that affect children with disabilities, early childhood education, civil and disability rights, grants administration, privacy, and confidentiality.
In particular, for the last ten years Kala has led the team of attorneys providing advice on a range of legal and policy issues related to interpreting and implementing Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a State formula grant program that funds the provision of early intervention services to young children with disabilities. In this capacity, Kala has had many accomplishments, including successfully shepherding a major regulations package to improve delivery of services and negotiating the first compliance agreements with states to include new data elements for state to use data-based decision making to improve program performance.
In addition, Kala has represented ED on interagency and intragency workgroups. Specifically Kala has served on such workgroups on government-wide initiatives on early childhood, disability rights, and privacy and was appointed in 2012-2013 to serve as ED’s Liaison to the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality’s Improving Hearing, Screening, and Intervention Systems. Most recently, she partnered with an OGC colleague to draft the confidentiality provisions in the Head Start regulations proposed by the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services. She has presented at national conferences on data, disability, privacy, and other issues reflecting the intersection of law and public policy. In 2011-2012, Kala was a Fellow in the Excellence in Government Program sponsored by the Partnership for Public Service (PPS).