About Ruder Law
Ruder Law is dedicated to helping parents of children with disabilities address educational problems throughout Western Pennsylvania. We assist parents in:
- Identifying their child as eligible for special education services under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
- Obtaining the specialized instruction needed to provide FAPE (a free and appropriate public education)
- Securing necessary supportive services, such as one-on-one aides or behavioral supports
- Ensuring an educational placement with typical peers in the least restrictive environment (LRE)
- Addressing disciplinary problems in manifestation determination meetings and expulsion proceedings
- Obtaining compensatory education funds for past deprivations of FAPE
- Pursuing reimbursement for private school placements
- Stopping bullying and disability-based harassment within the school
- Litigating disability discrimination and retaliation claims
Jeff Ruder is the founder and principal of Ruder Law. Since 2006, Jeff has focused his practice on advocating for the rights of disabled children in public schools. Jeff is also frequent speaker to professional and parent groups regarding the rights of students with disabilities.
Jeff also serves as an Allegheny County Solicitor, handling matters involving child abuse and neglect. In addition, Jeff works as special counsel for the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations where he represents victims of housing discrimination. Jeff also serves as special prosecutor for Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board. Previously, Jeff worked as a guardian ad litem for Legal Aid for Children.
Jeff is a 1993 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a 1996 graduate of the Dickinson School of Law.
Kristen Weidus is a senior associate attorney at Ruder Law. Prior to joining the firm, she was an associate at Tremba, Kinney, Greiner & Kerr, LLC, and served as co-counsel in the G.L. v. Ligonier Valley School District case, No. 14-1387 (3d Cir. 2015).
Kristen graduated magna cum laude from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law in Washington, DC in 2012. She worked as a law student attorney in the Took Crowell Institute for At-Risk Youth, representing students with disabilities enrolled in the DC Public Schools. Kristen also served as President of the Women’s Law Society, Articles Editor for the Law Review, and President and Founder of the UDC-DCSL Disability Rights and Advocacy Society.
Kristen graduated cum laude from Hiram College in 2009. Beginning in 2000, she worked for the HELP Foundation Summer Program, an extended school year program that serves children with disabilities in Northeast Ohio.
John Valantassis is an associate attorney at Ruder Law. Prior to joining Ruder Law, John worked as the Director of Child Advocacy at The Arc of Philadelphia, where he advocated on behalf of children with disabilities in the Philadelphia region. John also worked after law school as of counsel to the Law Offices of David J. Berney and served as a Conwell Community Corp Service Fellow for the Education Law Center in Philadelphia.
John earned his J.D. from Temple University Beasley School of Law in 2012 where he graduated magna cum laude and served as a Research Editor of the Temple Law Review. John graduated from Haverford College in 2009.