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Fall 2020 Seminar

Special Education Advocacy for Students Impacted by Trauma

Enrollment in this clinic will fulfill the HLS JD pro bono requirement.

Required Clinic Component: Education Law Clinic: Individual Representation (3-5 fall clinical credits). This clinic and course are bundled; your enrollment in the clinic will automatically enroll you in this required course.
Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.
By Permission: No.
Add/Drop Deadline: August 3, 2020.
LLM Students: LLM students interested in this clinic should be in contact with the clinic directly.

Students must attend a mandatory orientation session on Friday, September 11, 2020 from 1:00-4:00 PM.

The Education Law Clinic: Individual Representation engages students in individual client representation in special education as well as systemic change advocacy to advance the school success of children who have endured highly adverse childhood experiences. Students use the legal tools contained in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and related laws (including the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1972, federal Medicaid laws, and federal and state statutes regarding confidentiality, among others) to advocate for individual remedies that will enable their client’s children to succeed in school. Students will utilize research from psychology, neurobiology, and education about the effects of trauma on learning to inform their representation. Depending on the posture of the cases in the clinic, students will represent clients either at the first administrative hearing level — the IEP team meeting — or at the administrative appeal level — the Bureau of Special Education Appeals. Past students have made enormous differences in the lives of children by obtaining an appropriate education, and in many cases reversing school exclusions, for individual children at school.
Though the major focus of students’ clinic work will be direct client representation, students will also engage in systemic advocacy that furthers the Clinic’s broader mission. In recent semesters, this has included conducting legal trainings for expert evaluators and community-based mental health providers so they can assist their families to navigate the special education system at school and assert their legal rights.

The Education Law Clinic is part of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI), a collaboration between HLS and Massachusetts Advocates for Children, the mission of which is to ensure that all children, including those traumatized by exposure to violence and other adverse childhood experiences, succeed in school. The clinic’s direct legal representation of individual families is a key strategy in TLPI’s ongoing multi-strategic advocacy campaign to create safe and supportive school environments where all students can learn and thrive.