Kathleen Gibbons Tressler LLP

Gibbons, Kathleen M. Senior Counsel

Gibbons, Kathleen M. Senior Counsel

Practice Focus

Kathleen Gibbons brings more than three decades of experience to Tressler’s Local Government Practice Group. Kathleen’s practice focuses on education, special education, litigation and general services for government clients. Prior to joining Tressler in 2020, Kathleen was Senior Assistant General Counsel for the Board of Education of the City of Chicago for more than 26 years.  During her tenure at the Chicago Board, Kathleen litigated over 150 multi and single plaintiff employment discrimination cases. She has handled cases at the IDHR, EEOC, IHRC and courts involving ADA, FMLA and ADEA issues. In addition to litigating, a primary focus of Kathleen’s work at the Chicago Board was providing legal advice regarding the federal and state laws and regulations concerning students with disabilities and students who were homeless.  Kathleen was also on the CTU Special Education Monthly Committee to proactively work with the union on potential labor disagreements involving the CBA. She was also on the SPED negotiating team for the CTU contract. Kathleen has actively handled collective bargaining member dismissals and associated hearings.    

In her role as Senior Assistant General Counsel, Kathleen oversaw the Chicago Board’s implementation of and compliance with two special education and one homeless class action consent decrees, which impacted all 600+ Chicago Public Schools (CPS) schools, including all charter schools, and affected the education of the approximately 400,000 CPS students, 54,000 students with disabilities and 15,000 students who are homeless each school year.  Kathleen wrote several manuals and guidance documents regarding the IDEA, Section 504, various chronic health conditions and service animals.  She also drafted several Chicago Board polices and provided staff development trainings to thousands of CPS employees on such topics as the IDEA, Section 504, ADA, McKinney-Vento, student confidentiality, Title IX and sex discrimination.  

Professional Background

Kathleen began her legal career in Tressler LLP's Chicago office (then called Tressler, Soderstrom, Maloney & Priess) as an associate in 1987.  She successfully tried a personal injury case to a not-guilty verdict before a jury in the Circuit Court of Cook County, and she second chaired three mass tort jury trials in federal court.  Kathleen also argued several appeals in the Seventh Circuit and Illinois Appellate Court.

Memberships & Affiliations

Federal Trial Bar – Member

Illinois State Bar Association – Member

Recent Articles and Blogs


Presentations & Events


“Tips for Avoiding Claims of Harassment/Discrimination in the Workplace,” IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference, Chicago, January 25, 2024

“Navigating a Harassment/Discrimination Free Workplace,” IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference, Chicago, January 27, 2023

"Managing a Harassment Free Workplace"  IAPD/IPRA Soaring To New Heights, Chicago, January 27- 29, 2022

"Conversations about Sexual Harassment in the Workplace," Real Time with IPELRA Podcast, November 8, 2021

"Disciplining Students with Mental Health Issues in Mind," National Business Institute, October 8, 2021

"Parents and Mental Health: How Schools Must Communicate," National Business Institute, October 8, 2021

"School Legal Obligations Regarding Student Mental Health," National Business Institute, October 8, 2021

“Navigating a Harassment/Discrimination Free Workplace,” 108th Annual Conference of the Illinois Municipal League, Chicago, September 23, 2021

"Reconsidering Student Discipline and the Role of Restorative Justice," Tressler Talk, Chicago,  August 2021