​Know your rights in public schools! Free back-to-school legal clinic educates and empowers

RALEIGH, September 2, 2016 – Legal Aid of North Carolina is partnering with libraries, courthouses, churches, community centers and other partners to hold a free back-to-school legal clinic on Wednesday, Sept. 21, from 12-1:30 p.m., in nearly 30 cities across the state. The clinic will be broadcast live via videoconferencing software to clinic locations throughout North Carolina. Click here for the list of clinic locations and the registration form.

Legal Aid’s education attorneys designed the clinic to teach public school students and their parents, guardians, and community partners about state and federal education law, and to empower them to advocate effectively for students’ rights in the school system.

Jennifer Story, the attorney in charge of Legal Aid’s education justice project, Advocates for Children’s Services (ACS), will lead the clinic along with her ACS colleagues. The training will focus on some of the most common legal issues confronting families in North Carolina public schools, including excessively harsh school discipline, unmet special education needs, and pervasive bullying and discrimination.

“We have wonderful schools in North Carolina,” Story said, “but all too often our schools aren’t meeting the needs of some of our most vulnerable students, who end up falling through the cracks and into the school-to-prison pipeline. We want to combat that trend by equipping every student, parent, and child advocate in North Carolina schools with important knowledge about students’ rights, and about how best to advocate for students whose needs aren’t met and whose rights are violated in the school setting.”

During the clinic, Story will discuss some of the tools and strategies that students and their families can utilize to prevent issues before they arise and effectively enforce students’ rights when violations occur. “When students, parents, and community partners are empowered to be engaged advocates within schools, students are more successful and, in turn, schools as a whole thrive.” 

Clinic participants will receive an Education Advocacy Toolkit that includes information about students’ rights in situations involving school discipline, special education, and bullying, as well as sample materials that participants can use to zealously advocate for students. The clinic will include a Q-and-A session, during which participants can ask general questions. Specific legal advice will not be provided.

The clinic is free and open to all members of the public, but advance registration is required because seating is limited at most locations. Click here to register.

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Legal Aid of North Carolina is ​a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Our Advocates for Children’s Services project fights for justice on behalf of students in North Carolina public schools.

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