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Loyola University New Orleans College of Law Launches “the Education Project”

Loyola press release - September 17, 2018

New initiative in Loyola’s nationally renowned Law Clinic will fill a critical gap in legal representation for students in New Orleans public schools

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law announces today the launch of a new initiative to fill a critical gap in legal representation for students in New Orleans public schools. The Education Project will provide free legal advice, advocacy, and legal representation to New Orleans students and their parents on issues that impede their access to an appropriate education, including representing students facing suspensions and expulsions, as well as students with disabilities on issues related to the provision of special educational services.

The Education Project will be part of the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice, Community Justice Section. Loyola Law students participating in the clinic will have the opportunity to work with the Education Project attorneys to advocate for student rights. The Education Project will begin providing legal services in the Fall of 2018.

“Children of color, children with disabilities, and children from low-income families are the least likely to get the services they need in school to succeed and are disproportionately disciplined and pushed out of school,” said Davida Finger, associate dean, clinic professor and director of the new project. “The mission of this project is to protect the rights of these students, break these harmful cycles, and ensure that all New Orleans students have equal access to a quality education.”

The New Orleans school system has long been one of the lowest performing school districts in the nation and the city’s most vulnerable children face even higher barriers to receiving a high-quality education.

“Legal assistance for students and parents is critical for breaking the cycle of school push-out and ensuring that all students have access to equitable educational opportunities,” said Sara Godchaux, a 2012 Loyola Law alumna who has joined as a staff attorney for the Education Project with the Community Justice section of the Law Clinic. “We know that students facing school push-out or other issues related to access to special education services have a much better chance of staying in school and succeeding if they have a strong advocate helping them.”

The Loyola Law Clinic serves low-income people in many different areas including immigration, juvenile, criminal defense, family law, housing, and employment. The new Education Project will allow the clinic to provide an even greater range of legal services in the local community.

Loyola College of Law Dean and Judge Adrian G. Duplantier Professor of Law Madeleine Landrieu explained, “We are incredibly excited about this new project. Our law clinic is known around the country for its excellent advocacy on behalf of those without access to quality legal representation. Our law students and clinical faculty are eager for this opportunity to expand the clinic’s work to represent some of our city’s most vulnerable children - ensuring that each has access to a quality public education.”

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