Tess O’Brien-Heinzen


School & Higher Education  | Litigation | Student Services 

Tess primarily practices in the areas of School and Higher Education Law, as well as Litigation. 

Tess provides legal counsel to public school districts, charter schools, private schools, and postsecondary institutions in a broad range of areas including Title IX, board governance, student discipline, special education and disability law, open enrollment, policy development, and unlawful harassment and discrimination.  She frequently assists her clients with state complaints under pupil nondiscrimination laws and special education, federal complaints with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights, administrative litigation related to special education and Section 504, and litigation in state and federal court.


J.D., University of Wisconsin Law School, cum laude

B.A., English with Minor in Business, Marquette University

Professional Activities

  • Member, State Bar of Wisconsin
  • Member, Dane County Bar Association
  • Member, Wisconsin School Attorneys Association
  • Member, Council of School Attorneys

Community Involvement

  • State Bar of Wisconsin, Lawyers Hotline
  • Porchlight, Past President and Board Member
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates, Past Board Member

Published Articles / Presentations

  • Co-Author: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and the Law, State Bar of Wisconsin
  • Co-Trainer: Statewide Title IX Training for K-12 schools, Wisconsin Association of School Boards
  • 2022-2023 Presentations/Training (Representative List)
    • Meeting the Challenges of Title IX: A Title IX Primer and Case Students, Wisconsin Association of School Personnel Administrators, Association of Wisconsin School Administrators
    • Navigating Difficult Student Issues, Association of Wisconsin School Administrators
    • Supervision, Title IX, & Mandatory Reporting, K-12 School Districts
    • Section 504:  Legal Compliance Issues, Wisconsin Council of Administrators of Special Services
    • Everything a Superintendent Needs to Know About Special Education and Student Services But Was Afraid to Ask: An Academy for Superintendents, Association of Wisconsin School Administrators
    • Seclusion and Restraint: Considerations for Practice, Wisconsin Council of Administrators of Special Services
    • Responding to Challenging Behavior, Association of Wisconsin School Administrators
    • The ADA and Section 504: Critical Compliance Issues, Polk State College, Florida
    • The Contract is Signed, Now What? Wisconsin Resource Center for Charter Schools


  • Best Lawyers® in America - Education Law (2024)