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Summary

Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Right to Education Project recently filed a complaint on behalf of a middle school student and their parent against The Experiential School of Greensboro (TESG), a Guilford County charter school. The complaint targets the school’s alleged violations of its charter agreement, policies and/or procedures and provision of state law.  

Crystal S. Ingram, staff attorney with REP, assisted Isaiah* and parent K.O.* with filing the complaint with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Charter Schools (OCS).   

“TESG tells students, families, and other stakeholders, “expulsions and suspensions do more harm than good for students and society,” and declared in its charter school application that “it would not, except under extreme circumstances, expel or suspend students,” said Ingram. “Yet, in this case, TESG strayed heavily from those principles with an obvious disregard for the educational and emotional impact it would have on this student and his family. As such, there must be accountability for divergence from its founding principles and its advertised practices. Students at TESG deserve to be given the education their parents were promised they would receive.” 

During the Fall of 2022, Isaiah* edited a popular image they found online by placing their teacher’s face over the image and was placed on a five-day short-term suspension for allegedly violating the school’s acceptable internet use policy. Later in the year, Isaiah was suspended short-term once again, this time for a three-day term, for allegedly violating the school’s aggressive behavior policy.  

The short-term suspensions are being challenged on the claim that the alleged incidents do not meet the Code of Student Conduct requirements to impose these suspensions and these suspensions were in violation of state law. Notably, the first five-day suspension was not authorized under the Student Code of Conduct, nor was an adequate informal hearing given to allow the client a chance to defend against the allegations.   

During the suspensions, TESG allegedly failed to provide information to the clients about missed assignments and updated grades.  

“Despite a mental health state of emergency in North Carolina, schools like The Experiential School of Greensboro (TESG) continue to ignore research and circumvent their own written policies,” Isaiah’s mother said, “This is causing our children and our community immense harm. TESG asked the state of NC for funding in 2016 in exchange for providing an education that would remain committed to creating “an inclusive, open, experience-based learning environment that promotes the development of socially-aware citizens who are creative problem solvers and critical thinkers.”  Their divergence from this commitment with my son’s education is not only astounding; unfortunately, it supports the relentless practice of funneling children like my son down the school-to-prison pipeline with an unjust swiftness and with zero mercy. “ 

Proposed resolutions to the violations include expunging the suspensions from Isaiah’s education and discipline records, as well as recoding the suspensions as mental health days. In addition, the resolutions would require training for the school’s board members, administrators, faculty and staff on Peaceful Schools and Restorative Justice practices and conflict resolution. There is also a proposal which would require TESG to revise their Handbook and Student Code of Conduct to show their divergence from Peaceful School protocols, report on all suspensions quarterly to OCS, and remedy other violations in the complaint as is suggested by an OCS investigation.  

Although the complaint filed was not investigated due to capacity issues and internal regulations, the Office of Charter Schools still allows parents to submit concerns about a charter school which can be added to the school’s file by emailing the concerns to StakeholderSupport@dpi.nc.gov and including the name of the school in the title of the email containing the parent’s concerns. More information can be found by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/nccharterschoolconcerns.

* Name changed for client confidentiality  

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The incidence of human trafficking is on the rise in our state. With no income to speak of in Mexico, Ariana met people who promised to transport her to the United States where she could find work. Instead, they sold her to a brothel in a town on the U.S.-Mexican border. After being sexually assaulted and beaten on multiple occasions over a period of several weeks, the brothel owners brought her to the United States, where she was forced to cook and clean for a woman involved in a trafficking ring. Other women in the house were forced to prostitute themselves. The traffickers called Ariana’s family members and threatened to harm her in an attempt to extort money. Ariana escaped, made contact with family members, and reported the traffickers to federal investigators.  

Several months later, thanks to the investigation initiated after Ariana’s testimony, the trafficking operation was raided. Authorities discovered a number of other undocumented people being held against their will. Our client’s continued cooperation in the prosecution of the traffickers led to several convictions. Ariana’s complete cooperation in the investigation and prosecution, in spite of the danger to her personal safety and the extreme emotional trauma she experienced, entitled her to a T visa. These visas allow human trafficking victims to live and work in the United States and provide a path to permanent resident status.

Thanks to Legal Aid NC’s continued advocacy on behalf of Ariana and her family, she was recently reunited with her young daughter, whom she had left in Mexico. The reunification was particularly poignant, because Ariana’s original motivation for coming to the United States was being able to afford her daughter’s schooling—an opportunity that Ariana herself had never had. 

To learn more about our impact:

Category: Uncategorized

Legal Aid of North Carolina is a civil non-profit law firm dedicated to providing equal justice to North Carolina residents who are experiencing poverty and marginalization. The Legal Aid NC team is diverse and our culture is inclusive. Our aim is to not only provide our clients with legal help but empowerment. To ensure equal access to justice for all, we respect backgrounds, honor heritage and view what makes us different as assets. We invite you to do the same.

November Celebrations

National Native American Heritage Month

National Veterans and Military Families Month

November 11 – Veterans Day

International Transgender Awareness Month

November 13 – 19 Transgender Awareness Week

November 20 – International Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 25 – Thanksgiving (U.S.)

November 28 – December 6- Hanukkah

December Celebrations

December 1 – World Aids Day

December 1- Rosa Parks Day

December 2 – International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

December 3 – International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 10 – Human Rights Day

December 25 – Christmas (U.S.)

December 26 – January 1 – Kwanzaa

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Raleigh, N.C. – In partnership with Advance Community Health, the NC Navigator Consortium is hosting a free enrollment event this Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Advance Community Health’s Raleigh location, 1001-1011 Rock Quarry Rd. Raleigh, NC 27610. The Consortium is welcoming both pre-scheduled appointments and walk-ins for Triangle residents to get free assistance exploring and enrolling in health coverage options at healthcare.gov.

The Consortium is excited to be able to help Triangle residents access quality, affordable health coverage with increased Marketplace subsidies made available through the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Open Enrollment for HealthCare.gov Marketplace coverage will not end until Jan. 15, 2023, but those who need coverage starting Jan. 1, 2023, will need to apply by Dec. 15, 2022. The NC Navigator Consortium’s federally qualified health insurance Navigators are available by free appointments (by phone, in person or virtually) to provide local help to consumers needing to apply for or update their Marketplace coverage. Appointments may be scheduled online by calling 1-855-733-3711 or online at ncnavigator.net.

“The service we provide is even more critical now the family glitch has been fixed, making millions more eligible for coverage on the HealthCare.gov Marketplace,” said Mark Van Arnam, director of the NC Navigator Consortium, who added that coverage has never been more affordable. “Thanks to tax credits and subsidies made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act, four out of five enrollees are getting covered for $10 or less.”

The NC Navigator Consortium connects consumers to qualified health plans that provide essential health benefits and preventive care, in addition to mental health care, ER care and maternity coverage, not limited by caps or pre-existing conditions. Health insurance Navigators help North Carolinians maximize their coverage by:

  • Taking time with them to help avoid mistakes
  • Showing all options, ensuring their providers are in-network
  • Explaining terminology and processes, increasing health insurance literacy
  • Assisting them with estimating their income for the year ahead, one of the most difficult parts of the HealthCare.gov application process

The NC Navigator Consortium is the only federally funded entity of its kind in North Carolina, supported in part by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Learn more at NCNavigator.net, and follow on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Members of the Consortium are Access EastCharlotte Center for Legal AdvocacyCouncil on Aging of Buncombe CountyCumberland HealthNETHealthCare AccessHealthNet GastonKintegra HealthNC FIELD and Pisgah Legal Services. The Consortium is led by Legal Aid of North Carolina

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. Learn more at legalaidnc.org. Follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn and YouTube

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The project described was supported by Funding Opportunity number NAVCA210405-02-00 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The contents provided are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of HHS or any of its agencies.

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They aren’t called man’s best friend for nothing. Much more than mere companions, dogs have long been integral partners in some of humankind’s most important activities, from raising livestock to enforcing the law. For people with disabilities, service dogs can be a literal lifeline, helping them live and work in ways they otherwise couldn’t.

Unfortunately, the role of service dogs isn’t always understood, and their presence isn’t always appreciated. In 2013, attorneys in our Wilmington office came to the defense of a disabled military veteran whose landlord threatened to evict him for having a service dog. Thankfully, our advocates could rely on a powerful law to make their case for our client: the federal Fair Housing Act, which was passed in 1968 as part of the Civil Rights Act.

In part, the law defines unlawful discrimination as the refusal of a landlord to make “reasonable accommodations in rules”—in this case, a ban on pets—for people with disabilities. With this clear-cut language on their side, our attorneys were able to convince the landlord that allowing our client to stay in his home, with his service dog, was a reasonable accommodation he was required to make under federal law. 

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Thursday, October 27th, 2022

2:00pm – 6:00pm EDT

4 hours of General CLE credit (***pending approval by the North Carolina State Bar)

Cost: $65

Program Overview:

This CLE will focus on the intersection of custody in Chapter 50 and 50B cases. Many would expect that survivors of intimate partner and family violence who bring the abuse up in a custody matter would often be awarded primary custody. However, studies have shown that protective parents experience unexpected outcomes at a significant rate. The first session of the CLE will explore the studies on the topic and the possible reasons for the disparate outcomes for survivors of intimate partner and family violence. The second session will look at drafting 50B orders to help in later Chapter 50 custody cases. It will point out differences in both orders and how to prepare a case to help a client in a later Chapter 50 custody case. The program will end with a panel of North Carolina judges and their discussion of domestic violence law.

Presenters:

Sarah Caraffa is a staff attorney at the Raleigh Office of Legal Aid of North Carolina. She has been on the Domestic Violence Team in the Raleigh office for over five years, litigating Chapter 50B protective orders as well as other related Chapter 50 actions, mainly custody. Prior to working in North Carolina, Sarah practiced immigration law, working specifically with refugees and asylees. She graduated from Saint Louis University with a JD and MSW.

Elysia Prendergast-Jones is a supervising attorney for the Raleigh Office of Legal Aid of North Carolina. She works primarily in the fields of family law and domestic violence. She enjoys empowering clients and working with the population that LANC serves. She serves on the WCBA and NCAJ CLE committee. She is on the board of Triangle Area Parenting Support and a member of her daughter’s PTSA. Elysia has spoken at many CLE’s in the areas of family law and domestic violence. 

Elysia’s legal experience extends from family law to A/N/D court to criminal and civil court as well as the NC Court of Appeals, where some of the cases have recently been published. She has always had a passion for helping people as she has taken a position as a staff attorney for Legal Aid of North Carolina working with clients in domestic violence situations. 

She was a previous supervising attorney for NCCU’s School of Law’s Lawyer on the Line program, in connection with Legal Aid and provided guidance to students as they navigate the law to help their clients. Former Chairperson of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Solo, Small Firm, and General Practice Division, she has served as Chair for the council of the Young Lawyers’ Division, the Law-related Education Committee, the Juvenile Justice Section, and others. Additionally, Elysia participated in Camp Confidence, a joint task-force between the Cary Police Department and the NCBA to work with at-risk youth during summers. 

Elysia has a degree from NCCU’s School of Law, as well as a Master of Business Administration and Master of Arts from Webster University in counseling psychology. She has a B.A. from Coker College in psychology and English. Elysia has been a teacher for Wake County and a counselor working with children.  

Devin Trego is a supervising attorney in the Fayetteville office of Legal Aid of North Carolina, where she has worked for the past five years. Prior to moving south, Devin worked as a staff attorney for the Barbara J. Hart Justice Center, the legal project of the Women’s Resource Center, in her hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Temple Law School in Philadelphia. 

The Honorable Margaret Eagles, Wake County District Court Judge 

The Honorable Valene McMasters, Forsyth County District Court Judge

The Honorable Craig James, Johnston County District Court Judge 

Category: Uncategorized

This is a continuing legal education session for attorneys who want to learn more about poverty law or become a pro bono volunteer.

Starts: 9/8/2022 12:00 PM

Ends: 9/8/2022 1:00 PM

Session type: Webinar

General credits: 1

TOTAL CREDITS: 1

Credit status: Pending Approval

Cost: $65.00, FREE for LANC employees and volunteers.

Program Overview:

This CLE will define heir property and describe how heir property is created, why it presents problems for maintaining and proving home ownership, and how it impedes disaster recovery.  It will also explore legal solutions to remove common barriers faced by clients who own heir property. This training will be beneficial for all legal services attorneys, volunteer attorneys involved in Legal Aid’s pro bono program, and attorneys in private practice who handle matters involving real property ownership.

Presenters:

Lesley Wiseman Albritton is the Project Director and Managing Attorney of the Disaster Relief Project at Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc., where she is privileged to work with a team of outstanding lawyers, paralegals, and social workers assisting North Carolinians recover from natural disasters. The project provides legal assistance and education to survivors of natural disasters in North Carolina and supports equitable community economic development and long-term recovery in disaster-impacted communities. In this role, Ms. Albritton leads LANC’s response to Hurricanes Matthew, Florence, and Dorian, Tropical Storm Fred and numerous other smaller events.  Ms. Albritton is a member of the State Emergency Management Housing Recovery Support Function, serves on the boards of the NC Housing Coalition and the North Carolina Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters and is a member of the North Carolina Rural Inclusive Recovery Network’s steering committee.  She is a contributing author to the American Bar Association’s recent book, Meeting the Legal Needs of Disaster Survivors and co-author of the article, Disasters Do Discriminate: Black Land Tenure and Disaster Relief Programs, which was published in the ABA Journal on Affordable Housing.  She regularly teaches continuing legal education classes on disaster law to other attorneys. She received her law degree from Ohio Northern University, where she graduated with High Distinction.  She was named a 2019 Leader in the Law by North Carolina Lawyer’s Weekly.  She lives in Greenville, North Carolina with her husband and three sons.


Emma Smiley is a supervising attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Disaster Recovery Project, where she represents low-income North Carolinians impacted by natural disasters. She currently specializes in representing homeowners seeking federal, state, and nonprofit funding to repair their disaster-damaged homes, and particularly enjoys assisting heir owners in gaining and establishing marketable title to their homes. Previously, she has worked in Legal Aid’s domestic violence practice group, and has handled family law, housing, consumer, expungement and education cases. She has also worked for the state of North Carolina in a legal research position and has represented employees in wage and hour cases in private practice. She is a graduate of Duke University School of Law.