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What We Do

The EdLaw Project is a partnership between the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts and the Children & Family and Youth Advocacy Divisions of the Committee for Public Counsel Services focused on combating the School-to-Prison pipeline for indigent, court-involved youth through trainings for juvenile justice and child welfare attorneys; technical assistance for youth, parents, community organizations; and direct education advocacy.

EdLaw ‘s original mission was to advocate for the educational needs of clients of the Youth Advocacy Project (the pilot pre-cursor of the Youth Advocacy Division).  Between 2000 and 2011 EdLaw attorneys focused primarily on direct representation of low-income children in the Boston area.  Assistance to these students included advocating for them to receive appropriate special education services, identifying new school placement after dropping out or being pushed out of school, preventing school exclusion, and stopping criminal complaints being issued against students stemming from school-based incidents.

This focus on direct representation has positioned EdLaw as the foremost expert organization on education advocacy for children and youth involved with the court system in Massachusetts.  In 2011, when the Youth Advocacy Division became statewide, the EdLaw Project took the opportunity to revisit our mission. With direct representation experience as well as the institutional knowledge regarding navigating the often convoluted public school system, Edlaw recognized the potential impact of equipping both juvenile and child welfare attorneys across the state, who already have relationship with these young people, to identify and address the educational needs of their clients.  It was at this point in 2011 that the partnership with the Youth Advocacy Division broadened to include an additional unit of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, namely the Children and Family Law Division.  This Division works with families involved in the child welfare system and therefore this partnership provides EdLaw with the opportunity to do further education advocacy aimed at a younger population of vulnerable children.

Armed with an expanded mission which includes training, empowering and supporting lawyers across the state, EdLaw has created a program of education rights training modules for delinquency and child welfare attorneys practicing in Massachusetts.  These attorneys are skilled advocates in juvenile law and practice but are often feel ill-equipped to handle the education issues their clients are experiencing.   Our modules are delivered in a variety of settings including multi-day, intensive sessions covering a broad range of topics as well as in shorter modules outlining specific topics.  This approach will leverage the expertise of nearly one thousand attorneys, permanently transform the standard of practice for child advocacy in Massachusetts and dramatically improve educational and life outcomes for thousands of poor children annually.


Information and Advice


For more information about the EdLaw Project, or to schedule a training on Student Rights and Education Law, please contact:

Marlies Spanjaard
Director of Education Advocacy
617.910.5841

mspanjaard@publiccounsel.net

For advice on an education matter, please contact:

The EdLaw Project HelpLine
617.910.582
9

edlawproject@publiccounsel.net