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The Student Rights Alliance

Tuesday, November 19, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Joe Libertelli
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  The Student Rights Alliance: UDC-DCSL Clinic and Students Working with Other Advocates to Stop School Exclusion


 Coury Mascagni and Geno Donney


The Juvenile and Special Education Law Clinic and the Took Crowell Institute for Youth at the UDC-David A. Clarke School of Law have joined with the Disability Rights Clinic at American University’s Washington College of Law Disability and with the ACLU of the National Capital Area to form The Student Rights Alliance. Law students from UDC-DCSL and AU, with faculty supervision, will advocate for youth who are facing long-term suspension by District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). This project is aligned also with the new Every Student, Every Day Coalition.

UDC-DCSL alumni Geno Donney, ‘12 and Coury Mascagni, ‘12 are working on a part-time basis with the Took Crowell Institute, and, along with Seema Sadanandam of the ACLU-NCA, they have been instrumental in creating a Web site -- www.studentrightsalliance.org. The Web site will serve as a primary component of the advocacy strategy. Children facing suspension from DCPS can navigate the Web site to learn their rights in a long-term suspension situation. Parents and children who are interested in receiving assistance will input data into the new Web site and receive assistance. UDC-DCSL’s Juvenile and Special Education Law Clinic students, aided by first-year students doing their community service, will represent children from targeted high schools in Wards 7 and 8 that have extraordinarily high school-exclusion rates.

In 2011, DCPS administrators suspended 11,000 of the system’s 46,000 students. Students with special education needs are suspended at a greater rate than their non-disabled peers. Law student advocates from UDC-DCSL and AU will work to ensure that every special education student receives a free appropriate education and that DCPS personnel comply with policies and procedures designed to protect the rights of students with special needs.

This new project has started to attract publicity, helping to inform the community about the overwhelming rate of suspensions and the need for advocacy for DCPS students. A recent article, http://www.capitalcommunitynews.com/content/student-rights-alliance, highlights the multi-prong approach of the project to address the school discipline issues. At http://educationtownhall.org/2013/10/24/student-rights-alliance/, one can find another article emphasizing the importance of protecting the rights of DCPS students plus a radio broadcast featuring Geno Donney. For more information, please contact the Student Rights Alliance via email at studentrightsalliance@gmail.com or visit the Website.



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