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The Official Web Site of the State of South Carolina

State Director

New DDSN State Director Dr. Fry

Dr. Michelle Gough Fry, J.D., Ph.D., LL.M

DDSN State Director



Dr. Michelle Gough Fry assumed her duties as State Director of the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs on October 11, 2021. 


Dr. Fry is an attorney and civil rights advocate, education lawyer, and educational policy scholar. Her educational background includes an LL.M. from Georgetown University in International Business and Economic Law, a Ph.D. in Education Policy from Indiana University Bloomington, and a J.D from Indiana University Bloomington Maurer School of Law. For the last decade, she has served as part of the executive team for multiple state agencies and a large, complex nonprofit organization. At each, she has contributed to organizational strategy as well as led ethics and compliance work, corporate affairs, and risk mitigation across the various divisions of the organizations.

In public service, Dr. Fry has served as a Commissioner for the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, General Counsel to the State Board of Education, General Counsel to the Indiana Charter School Board, and General Counsel to the Indiana Department of Education. She was also named, by the Mayor of Indianapolis, as the co-chair to the education subcommittee for the Your Life Matters Task Force, a bi-partisan task force commissioned to write a research-based report and develop an action plan to improve outcomes for Black males ages 4 through 24.

Michelle has been an invited presenter at dozens of local and national conferences regarding rights of Students with Disabilities and Civil Rights and Education, as well as issues of data privacy and security, compliance, and Ethics.  She also has a number of peer-reviewed publications regarding special education and civil rights issues, and her work has been cited in some of the nation’s top journals, including the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender, the New York University Journal of Law & Social Change, and the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice. Her dissertation on HIV-positive students and the legal and policy concerns related to their current and historic treatment won the Joseph C. Beckham award from the Education Law Association, a national body.

Dr. Fry is married to Dr. John Fry, M.D., Director of Interventional Cardiology at Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg, SC, and they have four children.