About Us

The Center for Education Policy and Law  (CEPAL) is a joint undertaking of the USD School of Law and the School of Leadership and Education Sciences. Established by a grant from the William D. Lynch Foundation in 2007, our mission is to foster better linkage between educational research, policymaking, and practice by:

  • Undertaking commissioned empirical and legal research on education policy issues at the local, state, and federal levels
  • Enhancing communication between education leaders and local and state-level policymakers
  • Facilitating understanding among USD law students and education graduate students about the policymaking process through courses, internships and research opportunities


Most educators have a limited understanding of the driving forces behind educational policymaking, and most policymakers find it difficult to understand how schools and colleges operate. Attorneys who work with educators and policymakers often have limited understanding of both. CEPAL endeavors to bring the worlds of education, policymaking and law together in the interest of better educational outcomes.

To this end, CEPAL is available to undertake any or all of the following:

  • Legal and educational research commissioned at the local school district, county, and state levels
  • Legal and educational research commissioned at the community college and university levels
  • Legal and educational research in association with philanthropy and/or other study centers
  • Policy and initiative development commissioned by philanthropy or nonprofits
  • Convening educators, researchers, and political leaders to debate and discuss pending and future educational policy issues impacting federal, state and local constituencies
  • Conducting forums, workshops, and institutes on selected topics of education policy and the law
  • Placing talented law and education students in internships related to policymaking

Advisory Board

To assist CEPAL in its work, an advisory board of distinguished membership has been established. A group of affiliated faculty members from both schools is available to conduct legal research and both quantitative and qualitative educational research. Members are:

  • William Lynch (Chairman) William D. Lynch Foundation for Children
  • Hon. Dede Alpert, former State Senator, District 39 (San Diego)
  • Stephen Ferruolo, Dean of the USD School of Law
  • Paula Cordeiro, Dean of the USD School of Leadership and Education Sciences
  • Tyler Cramer, Attorney, Tyler W. Cramer, A Law Corporation
  • Bob Fellmeth, Price Professor of Public Interest Law, USD School of Law
  • Hon. Mark Wyland, Vice Chair, California Senate Education Committee


Margaret Dalton

Margaret is the administrative director of USD's legal clinics and the supervising attorney for the Special Education Clinic. She is an adjunct professor in both the USD School of Law and SOLES. In association with the Children’s Advocacy Institute in the USD School of Law, Margaret directed an innovative project on children’s issues, the Information Clearinghouse on Children, and supervised law students in the Child Advocacy Clinic. She served as editor of the Children’s Regulatory Law Reporter from 1997-1999 and is the author of articles dealing with teenagers and with special needs children. Since 2000 she has concentrated on special education law, creating a Special Education Clinic in the School of Law in the spring of 2003. She has been honored four times with the Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Services from the State Bar of California. Margaret received her J.D. from the USD School of Law.

Robert Donmoyer

Bob Donmoyer is professor of leadership studies in SOLES and is the current coordinator of the nonprofit and philanthropy specialization within the leadership studies doctoral program. He was also a founding co-director of the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research in SOLES. Previously he worked for 20 years as a professor at Ohio State University where he also served as director of Ohio State’s School of Educational Policy and Leadership and as director of policy and school organization research for the National Center for Science Teaching and Learning, a federally funded research center that was housed at Ohio State. Bob has published extensively on research utilization, research methodology and school reform. He has written chapters on research use and methods for the most recent editions of both the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) Handbook of Research on Teaching and the AERA Handbook of Research on Educational Administration. Bob received a Ph.D. in educational research from Stanford University.

Robert Fellmeth

Bob is professor of public interest law at USD. From 1968 to 1973, he was an attorney with the Center for the Study of Responsive Law in Washington, D.C., and was one of the original "Nader's Raiders." He then served as a deputy district attorney for San Diego County and an assistant U.S. attorney for the Department of Justice in San Diego. In 1980, he founded USD's Center for Public Interest Law, and in 1989, he founded the Children’s Advocacy Institute. He teaches and writes in the areas of children's rights and regulatory, antitrust and consumer law. Among his books are California White Collar Crime (Michie) and Child Rights and Remedies (Clarity Press). He is the former California State Bar discipline monitor and chairs the board of the Public Citizen Foundation in Washington, D.C. Bob received his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Fred Galloway

Fred is associate professor in SOLES, where he has also served as associate dean and director of strategic programs. Prior to joining the university, he was project director for the national Direct Student Loan Evaluation project at Macro International, as well as the director of federal policy analysis at the American Council on Education, where he represented the interests of the higher education community before the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. His research interests include higher education policy, the economics of education, and econometrics, and his work has influenced many aspects of federal student aid policy. Fred received his doctoral degree in the economics of education from Harvard University.

Lea Hubbard

Lea is a professor in SOLES. She has a joint appointment in the Department of Learning and Teaching and in the Department of Leadership Studies. She has co-authored several books and written articles on the academic achievement of minority students, educational leadership, school reform and gender and education. Her latest book, Reform as Learning: When School Reform Collided with School Culture and Community Politics in San Diego, is a comprehensive study of the San Diego City School reform. Recently she has studied the Boston Public Schools to investigate efforts designed to connect research and practice. She currently is serving on the board of a conversion charter school. Lea received her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego in sociology.

Frank Kemerer

Frank Kemerer is professor-in-residence in SOLES and also has taught in the School of Law.  Together with Scott Himelstein, he founded CEPAL in 2007 and served as director of legal research and academics until 2014.  Before coming to USD, Frank served for many years as regents professor of education law and administration at the University of North Texas in Denton and was the founder and director of its Center for the Study of Education Reform.  Among his books are California School Law (Stanford University Press, 2013, third edition), The Educator’s Guide to Texas School Law (University of Texas Press, 2014, eighth edition), and School Choice Tradeoffs (University of Texas Press 2002).  Frank has a PhD in educational administration and policy analysis from Stanford University with a law minor from Stanford Law School.


Scott Himelstein, Director

Scott Himelstein
Scott Himelstein is the founding director of CEPAL and the interim director of the Mobile Technology Learning Center, both housed within SOLES. Appointed in 2008 by Governor Schwarzenegger to the California Community College Board of Governors, he currently serves as the board president. Himelstein is the former deputy secretary of education and later acting secretary of education for the state of California. In that capacity he served as chief policy advisor to the governor on K-12 and higher education. Prior to this appointment, he served as chairman and CEO of the National Even Start Association, president of the William D. Lynch Foundation for Children, and chairman and CEO of San Diego Reads. Himelstein is a former board member of the California Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission.

Roxanne Ruzic, Director of Research

Roxanne Ruzic
Roxanne teaches graduate-level research methods courses in SOLES and is director of research at USD’s Mobile Technology Learning Center and director of social science research at CEPAL. Since 2003, Roxanne has served as president of Ruzic Consulting, Inc., providing research/evaluation and program development services to organizations in the nonprofit and education sectors. Trained in both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies and instructional design, Roxanne has participated in numerous research and evaluation studies and projects across higher education, K-12, and informal educational settings. She has focused primarily on issues of teaching and learning in higher education settings; college readiness; science/STEM education; use of technology; environmental education; and K-12 school reform, all with an emphasis on accommodating diversity and improving outcomes for historically underserved individuals and communities.

Center Staff

Julie Zoellin Cramer - Senior Research Associate

Julie Cramer 
Julie is part of the K-12 public/private education cohort in the leadership studies doctoral program. Julie’s central area of study is public education policy reform and system-level change. Of particular interest is the role of parent involvement, school choice and public charter schools. As a doctoral candidate, her dissertation (in progress) involves research on parent empowerment as a social movement and parent trigger legislation in the United States. In 2012, Julie was named a David L. Clark National Graduate Research Scholar by the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) and Divisions A and L of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Julie is currently working as the director of operations for the MTLC and the senior research associate for CEPAL. As part of her work with CEPAL, Julie has been involved over the past three years in developing a charter high school on the 6th and 7th floor of the new San Diego Central Library. The school, E3 Civic High, is scheduled to open in August 2013 and will serve 500 students.

MA, Leadership Studies, University of San Diego
BS, Business Administration, University of California, Berkeley

John Franey - Research Associate

John Franey 
John is a 2013 graduate of the SOLES PhD program. His dissertation work focused on aspiring school leaders’ development of instructional leadership capacity and instructional coaching skills. Prior to joining CEPAL and MTLC, John spent the last decade as a teacher in the Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District. He also served for two years as the district’s coordinator of emergency preparedness, where he led the process of aligning the district’s emergency preparedness plans to the federally mandated National Incident Management System. He holds single subject teaching credentials in physical education, English and literature, as well as a certificate for eligibility for a California Administrative Services Credential.  John specializes in the use of qualitative research methods to better understand the K-12 educational system through the lenses of educational reform, instructional leadership, professional development practices, mobile technology implementation, school contexts/cultures, transformation of perspectives and human developmental theory.

Ph.D., University of San Diego: Leadership Studies
M.A., California State University, San Marcos: Teaching, Learning, & Leadership
B.A., Harvard University: Folklore & Mythology

Devon Foster - Associate Director of Marketing

Devon Foster

Jodi Stanford - Staff Attorney
Joanna Stanford
Jodi earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Southern California before obtaining her J.D. at USD's School of Law in 2011.  Jodi has been an established member of the California Bar Association since 2011, and currently provides legal research for CEPAL's projects.  Jodi has been working for the CEPAL and MTLC since the spring of 2012.

Andria Shook - Graduate Assistant
Andria Shook
Andria Shook is a third year leadership studies doctoral student specializing in K-12 education. Her assistantship position spans between research conducted by boththe MTLC and CEPAL. Her resulting publications include San Diego Unified School District: Schools in City Council Districts 1-8 and the California Mayoral Empowerment Study. Current projects include the Encinitas Yoga and Wellness Program Evaluation and The Encinitas iPad Research Project.  Additional upcoming work will be released through Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) where she interned in 2012 at Stanford University. Andria’s central area of study is education policy reform predominantly focused on the role of health and wellness instruction in public education. Her upcoming dissertation will be focused in this realm of education reform. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies she was an elementary teacher in central Los Angeles through Teach for America.

M.A., Education, Loyola Marymount University
B.A., International Relations, University of Southern California

Teresa Drew - Project and Personnel Manager
Teresa Drew

 Polly Traylor - Center Support Coordinator
Polly began her career in Washington D.C. working in the congressional office of U.S. Congressman Gene Traylor representing the fifth congressional district of Mississippi. While living in Washington, D.C. she also worked in the Governmental Affairs office of BellSouth before the divesiture of the baby bells.  Polly moved west to Los Angeles and worked as a political fundraiser on several city and state races.  Polly joined the CEPAL staff in 2012 after spending several years focusing on raising her three children.