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Keeping Students in School



The DC Bar Foundation is proud to fund legal services organizations in DC that help residents during times of crisis.

 

Advocates for Justice and Education, Inc.—a DCBF grantee partner—advocates to ensure that children and youth, particularly those who have special needs, receive access to appropriate education and health services.

 

This client story highlights the work that Advocates for Justice and Education do to help families with education-related matters and decisions that can be harmful and prove unbeneficial to students.

 

In March 2023, Advocates for Justice and Education, Inc. (AJE) represented Ms. A in active litigation against the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) for a disciplinary matter involving one of her daughters. During this same time, Ms. A requested additional representation to appeal the DCPS high school proposed involuntary transfers of her daughter (a 9th grader) with the disciplinary action of another daughter (a senior on track to graduate) who attended the same high school.

 

Ms. A went to AJE frustrated and overwhelmed because she was already fighting DCPS to keep her 9th grader in school and now had to face additional litigation with DCPS over the proposed involuntary transfers of both daughters. Ms. A believed the high school and DCPS failed to provide a safe environment for her daughters and other students by not appropriately addressing conflict among the students and, in some instances, perpetuating and instigating conflict among the students. Ms. A said the high school and DCPS central office staff ignored her pleas to address school safety concerns. Instead of engaging in restorative practices to address the behaviors, they decided to act to permanently remove her daughters from the school.

 

An AJE attorney agreed to represent Ms. A, and they successfully got both involuntary transfers dismissed. In the case pertaining to the involuntary transfer against her senior daughter, an AJE attorney was able to get DCPS to agree to dismiss the case ahead of the scheduled hearing because she was on track to graduate in a few months. They decided that transferring her to another school at the end of the year would be harmful and an unnecessary disruption in her instruction. At the hearing for her 9th grader, an AJE attorney successfully argued an oral motion to dismiss the case based on due process violations. As a result, Ms. A’s daughters stayed and finished the school year without any further disruption to their instruction.

 

Ms. A was grateful for AJE’s assistance in fighting to keep her daughters at their school despite DCPS’s concerted effort to have them removed. Ms. A shared that she felt seen and heard by AJE and will continue using our resources if necessary.

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