Robert K. Crabtree

Of Counsel

Contact Information


  • B.A. 1967 Bowdoin College, cum laude
  • Master of Divinity 1971 Andover Newton Theological School, cum laude
  • J.D. 1976 Northeastern University School of Law

Attorney Profile

Robert Crabtree has devoted his working life to supporting and advancing the rights of persons with special needs and their families.

In 1972, serving as Research Director for the Massachusetts Legislature’s Committee on Education, he was a principal draftsman of Chapter 766, a comprehensive revision of the Commonwealth’s special education laws. In 1976-77 he served as law clerk to the Honorable Walter J. Skinner of the U. S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. He and Attorney Lawrence Kotin created our law firm, now known as Kotin, Crabtree and Strong, LLP, in 1981. He now serves in an “of counsel” capacity with KCS.

Mr. Crabtree is a frequent presenter on topics related to special education law and regularly speaks to parent advocacy groups, evaluators, educators and clinicians about the scope and processes of special education law.  He is also the author of numerous articles concerning special education law and advocacy, including a comprehensive chapter on advocating for students with special education needs in MCLE’s volume concerning School Law in Massachusetts, co-written with Eileen Hagerty of KCS, and a Foreword to Judith and Carson Graves’ book, Parents Have the Power To Make Special Education Work (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2014) reviewing the history of special education advocacy in Massachusetts and current issues that need to be addressed in state and federal interpretation and enforcement of the law.

In May 2005, Mr. Crabtree was a co-recipient, with Mr. Kotin, of the Martha Ziegler Founder’s Award given by the Federation for Children with Special Needs, recognizing their part in the origins of Chapter 766 and their “decades of dedication to students with disabilities and their families.”

In February 2017, he received the Diane Lipton Award for Outstanding Advocacy, awarded by the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, a national organization supporting and training advocates in the field of special education.


Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • U.S. Supreme Court


  • Foreword, to Judith Canty Graves and Carson Graves, Parents Have the Power to Make Special Education Work (Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2013).
  • Contributor at and
  • Contributor to Massachusetts Special Education Reporter
  • Contributor to Federation for Children with Special Needs Quarterly Newsline
  • Have the Purposes of Chapter 766 Been Achieved?-An Invitation:
  • Managing Your Child’s Special Education Documents and Records, ExpertBeacon, Inc.(2013).
  • Special Education: Advocating on Behalf of Students & Parents in SCHOOL LAW IN MASSACHUSETTS (Rhoda E. Schneider ed., 1st ed. 2003; 2d ed. 2012; 5th ed. 2014) (with Eileen M. Hagerty)
  • Do’s and Don’ts for Teacher-Advocates (Part Two), 31 Fed’n for Child. with Special Needs Newsline, no. 4, at 1 (2011).
  • Teachers Who Advocate: Protections and Suggestions (Part One), Vol. 31, No. 3
  • Treatment of Applied Behavioral Analysis Under IDEA: Has Recent Peer-Reviewed Support for Intensive Behavioral Approaches Given Parents a Right to ABA Services for Children with Autism? (2010)

Awards & Honors

  • Honored and celebrated on Saturday, September 9, 2023, at the Federation for Children with Special Needs’ 49th Anniversary Gala Honoring Giant Along the Way.  Along with Dan Heffernan and the late Larry Kotin, the honorees were recognized and honored as some of the trailblazing giants who founded, built, and grew the Federation for Children with Special Needs. Their efforts transformed education, healthcare, and human services in Massachusetts and nationwide
  • Recipient of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPPA)’s 2017 Diane Lipton Award for Outstanding Advocacy
  • Chosen as Super Lawyer® by New England Super Lawyers Magazine (2004-Present)
  • Recipient of the Martha H. Ziegler Founder’s Award from the Federation for Children With Special Needs, Inc.

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