“The horizon recedes as we advance” was a phrase often quoted by Loyola Law School Dean Emeritus Gerald “Gerry” McLaughlin. Dean McLaughlin was a stalwart friend of Disability Rights Legal Center and a founder of the Cancer Legal Resource Center (CLRC), who passed away on April 12, 2015.
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Education Advocacy Program
Education Advocacy Program litigates individual and impact cases involving special education and school related disability discrimination. The Education Advocacy Program (EAP) works to ensure that students with disabilities are fully included and provided a free and appropriate public education in a variety of traditional and non-traditional settings including juvenile halls, camps, and jails. Since its establishment in 2000, the EAP has worked to ensure that minority and low-income students are provided with quality legal representation. Traditionally underrepresented, these students often fall victim to harsh discipline policies and low expectations that, without the appropriate educational services and accommodations, results in them dropping out of school. The EAP represents clients at administrative hearings as well as in federal and state court.
The Education Advocacy Program also works to educate the community on special education issues, which has lead to the creation of Education Academies, the Education Advocacy Manual (a step-by-step guide on basic special education procedures), and instruction of a Special Education Advocacy and the Law class at Loyola Marymount University.
Through its cases, the Education Advocacy Program has:
- Created legal precedent under the Americans with Disabilities Act that a school district must accommodate an autistic student's service dog at school - Ciriacks v. Cypress School District.
- Improved the educational services that Los Angeles County Office of Education provides to youth who are at Challenger Memorial Youth Center, a juvenile camp - Casey A. et al v. Los Angeles County Office of Education et al.
- Changed policies and practices of the Los Angeles Unified School District and Parent Teacher Association to ensure that students with mobility impairments are provided accessible transportation for field trips and Grad Night trips - Zepeda et al. v. Los Angeles Unified School District et al.
- Ensure that parents with mobility disabilities have access to their child's school - Bresolin v. Los Angeles Unified School District et al.
Current cases include:
- A matter of first impression to determine who, under California law, is the entity responsible for providing special education services to eligible youth in county jail - Garcia v. Los Angeles Sheriff's Department et al. & Los Angeles Unified School District v. Garcia
- A school district's refusal to permit an autistic student with multiple disabilities to attend high school with his service dog without unwarranted restriction - Kloth v. Yucaipa-Calmesa Joint Unified School District
The Education Advocacy Program Provides:
- Special education advocacy and legal representation
- Workshops (English and Spanish) on special education
- Manuals on special education
- Outreach to parents, schools, courts, and other organizations
- Referrals to private pro bono attorneys
- Assistance to students in the juvenile justice system
- Services provided in English, Spanish, ASL and other languages
(Proporcionamos servicios legales en Español)
Areas of Advocacy and Representation:
- Section 504 Plans & IEP Meetings
- Special Education Services
- Assessment Issues
- Placement Issues
- Due Process Hearings
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