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Education Rights for Older Students

Richard*, age 19, was not aware of legal entitlements under federal and District special education law. As he moved between an out-of-District juvenile residential facility, DC Jail, and a Federal Bureau of Prisons facility, he was not provided with access to educational opportunities. When DCBF grantee represented Richard, it became clear that he had been deprived of education and transition services. Due process complaints against the government agencies involved were filed.

Along the way, Richard came to understand his rights to education access and transition services, the power of self-advocacy, and the experience of serving as a star witness at hearings. In a letter to the judge, and later through testimony, he shared his experience and how his legal rights had been routinely denied. Ultimately the judge vacated a prison term and awarded tens of thousands of dollars in services and school tuition.

Because of access to legal counsel, Richard was able to enroll full-time in school, graduate, and secure meaningful employment. His access to required educational and transitional services fulfilled the intent of the law: providing equal access to opportunity that best enables an individual to be a contributing member of their community.

*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.

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