Find a Lawyer

Search by Issue
Search by Location

Cowan, Kristen Tosh Information

firm image
Cowan, Kristen Tosh
3105 South Street, NW Washington, DC
Phone: 202-965-3652 / 800-914-8212 (Toll Free)
Fax: 202-965-8913


Current Employment Position(s)


Lawyer Overview

Kristen Tosh Cowan is nationally recognized for her expertise in the area of federal education law.  As a partner with the firm, Ms. Cowan has primarily focused her work on audit and compliance issues within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, most recently reauthorized as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).  Ms. Cowan advises states, school districts, and post-secondary schools on compliance with these programs, as well as the complex administrative rules of various federal agencies, including the US Department of Education (USDE) and the Office of Management and Budget.   Ms. Cowan has also worked closely with the private sector to advise on rules affecting nonpublic schools, charter schools, and third party contractors. 

Ms. Cowan represents clients in administrative litigation at the state and federal levels, including the Administrative Law Judges at USDE.  In an effort to more productively manage these adversarial proceedings, she has also been significantly involved in USDE's audit resolution strategy: the Cooperative Audit Resolution and Oversight Initiative (CAROI).  Through CAROI, Ms. Cowan has assisted clients in successfully resolving large liabilities without significant repayment of funds and gaining tremendous flexibility the administration of federal programs.

Ms. Cowan also assists clients in garnering additional federal funds through the identification of new funding sources and development of plans and applications for categorical and discretionary grants.

Ms. Cowan regularly speaks at national conferences on audit and compliance issues.  She frequently conducts training workshops and seminars for state and local education agencies on complex administrative and fiscal issues.   Moreover, she is a regular featured speaker in audio conferences sponsored by Thompson Publishing Group.

Ms. Cowan has written extensively on the requirements of Title I of the ESEA, including the 2001 reauthorization (The New Title I: The Changing Landscape of Accountability (2003, 2004, and 2005); The New Title I: Balancing Flexibility with Accountability (2002)); and the 1994 reauthorization (Great Expectations Understanding the New Title I (1995));  In addition, she writes regular articles for the Title I Monitor, the Title I Handbook, and the Single Audit Information Service, all publications of the Thompson Publishing Group.

Ms. Cowan currently lives in San Francisco, CA, and serves the needs of many of the firm's west coast clients.  Ms. Cowan received her Bachelor's Degree in public policy from Duke University in 1990 and graduated with honors from American University's Washington College of Law in 1993. A native of Beaver, Pennsylvania, Ms. Cowan is admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.

Areas of Practice

  • Administrative Hearings & Adjudication
  • Administrative Investigations
  • Administrative Officers & Agents
  • Administrative Rulemaking
  • Affirmative Action
  • Colleges & Universities
  • Disability & Illness Discrimination
  • Discrimination
  • Freedom of Religion
  • Freedom of Speech
  • Licensing
  • Private Schools
  • Public Schools
  • Race Discrimination
  • Regulatory Enforcement
  • Religious Discrimination
  • Sex Discrimination
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Special Education
  • Student Rights
  • Tenure

West Practice Categories

Administrative Hearings & Adjudication, Administrative Investigations, Administrative Officers & Agents, Administrative Rulemaking, Licensing, Regulatory Enforcement, Disability & Illness Discrimination, Race Discrimination, Religious Discrimination, Sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Affirmative Action, Discrimination, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Colleges & Universities, Private Schools, Public Schools, Special Education, Student Rights, Tenure


Bar Admissions

  • Pennsylvania, 1993
  • District of Columbia, 1994

Classes and Seminars

  • Audio Conferences on Federal Education, Thompson Publishing Group., 2002 - Present
  • Keynote Speaker at Annual Conference, California Association of Admin. of State & Federal Education Program, 2001 - 2004
  • Keynote Speaker at Annual Conference, Pennsylvania Association of Federal Programs Coordinator, 2002 - 2004
  • Keynote Speaker at Annual Conference, Association of Education Federal Financial Administration, 1995 - Present
  • Presentation, National Association of State Title 1 Director, 1999
  • Presentation, National Association of State Title 1 Directors, 2000
  • Presentation, National Council of State Education Attorneys, 1996


  • American University, Washington College of Law, Washington, District of Columbia
    Honors: cum laude

    Law Review: Administrative Law Journal of the American University, 1991 - 1992
  • Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
    Major: Public Policy Studies
  • Cambridge University, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, England

Published Works

  • The New Title I: The Changing Landscape of Accountability, Thompson Publishing Group, Inc., 2003
  • The New Title I: The Changing Landscape of Accountability, Thompson Publishing Group, Inc., 2004
  • The New Title I: The Changing Landscape of Accountability, Thompson Publishing Group, Inc., 2005
  • Great Expectations - Understanding the New Title, An Assured of scheme Administration, 1995