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Loyola University Chicago

Civitas ChildLaw Center

School of Law

News and Events

The Education Law and Policy Institute collaborates with the Loyola University Chicago School of Education and other institutions to present conferences, trainings, and other special events on education law and policy issues.  The Institute also works in collaboration with other University publications and platforms to disseminate research regarding the most pressing contemporary issues confronting education law and policy.

Below are examples of the myriad programs the Institute has developed or co-sponsored, as well as news on the activities of several Institute students, faculty, and staff .

Miranda Johnson from Education Law and Policy Institute of the School of Law and Pam Fenning from the School of Education/School Psychology program jointly led a “conversation series” at the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) convention in Orlando, Florida. The focus of the conversation series was on their collaborative efforts with others at the state level to develop a “model code of conduct” to create more proactive and equitable discipline codes to be adopted by districts. In addition, they led a conversation with participants about challenges and facilitators to creating more proactive codes intended to prevention unnecessary school exclusion through suspension and expulsion.

The Education Law and Policy Institute and the Education Law and Policy Society co-sponsored a brownbag lunch with Maryam Brotine, Associate at the law firm Robbins Schwartz.  Maryam practices education law focusing in the areas of special education and students’ rights.  She counsels and represents school districts with respect to IEP meetings, ISBE complaints, OCR complaints, mediation, due process hearings, residency hearings, student discipline, policy decisions, and FOIA requests.  Maryam spoke with students about her career path, her day-to-day work, and her advice for law students seeking to pursue a career in this field.

Law firm Franczek Radelet LLP announced that Jamel Greer (JD ’14) is joining the firm as a first year associate in its Education Practice Group.  Jamel worked at the firm starting in September 2013 as part of Loyola’s Education Law Practicum.  See http://www.franczek.com/news-announcements-314.html.  Jamel joins fellow alumni Shelli Anderson (JD ’97), Amy Kosanovich Dickerson (JD ’07) and Laura Knittle (JD ’13) at the firm.

The Public Interest Law Reporter (PILR)devoted this year’s symposium to the timely and important topic of school funding reform.  The symposium, entitled “Senate Bill 16 and School Funding in Illinois,” specifically focused on Senate Bill 16, which passed the Senate in May 2014 and is under review by the House of Representatives.  As explained by the Illinois State Board of Education, the bill “aims to overhaul the state’s current regressive funding system into a progressive system in which the majority of state funding is means tested and distributed based on local ability to pay.”  Among the speakers at the event was Pam Witmer (JD ’13), who provided a national context and perspective on this issue based on her previous work at StudentsFirst.  More information about the symposium is available at http://www.luc.edu/law/student/publications/pilr/symposium.html.

Loyola’s Education Law and Policy Society (ELPS) hosted a brownbag lunch with Micki Moran.  Micki is a founding partner at The Child and Family Law Center of The North Shore, LTD.  She represents children and young adults with disabilities in special education, criminal, juvenile, and family law proceedings. 

Jose Sanchez from Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) spoke to students and faculty as part of a Coffee Talk series sponsored by the ChildLaw Center.  VOYCE is a youth organizing collaborative for education and racial justice led by students of color from six community organizations across the city of Chicago.  The focus of Jose’s presentation was on the importance of including the youth voice in decisions that affect them, and some of the challenges associated with that effort.  Jose also addressed school discipline legislation in Illinois and the process of legislative advocacy involving youth.

Loyola hosted a lunch for current students with three attorneys practicing education law describe their work and available opportunities in their offices.  Two of the presenters were recent Loyola Law alums who also discussed their course and career choices that led them to their current positions.  The presenters included:

  • Jennifer Payne, Supervising Attorney, LAF
  • Dan Hochbaum (JD ‘12), Staff Attorney (and former Equal Justice Works Fellow), Equip for Equality
  • Laura Knittle (JD ’13), Associate, Franczek Radelet P.C.

Each of these offices offer placements for academic credit through the Education Law Practicum.  Loyola’s education law faculty were also present to describe the Education Law Practicum and other available Practicum placements, including opportunities to represent students and parents in special education and school expulsion matters through Loyola’s Educational Advocacy Project.  Faculty also described spring course offerings in education law and answered questions.  

The Children’s Legal Rights Journal (CLRJ) hosted its annual symposium entitled “School Discipline: Moving Beyond Zero Tolerance” on October 17, 2014.  The symposium drew over 100 attendees from a number of disciplines including law, education, and social work. The event focused on the changing landscape of school discipline, including achievements and challenges in implementing new school practices, as well as discussions concerning the school-to-prison pipeline both locally and nationally. Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights for the U.S. Department of Education Catherine Lhamon presented the Special Address, and an overview of this timely topic was outlined by Daniel Losen, Director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies, an initiative at UCLA’s Civil Rights Project. The speakers also included Elissa Johnson (JD ’10), who is a staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center. More information about the event and materials from the conference are available at http://www.luc.edu/law/student/publications/clrj/symposium.html. CLRJ will be publishing its symposium issue focusing on education law and is currently accepting articles. For more information on publication, please email childlrj@luc.edu.

Loyola law students organized a suspension advocacy group called Stand Up for Each Other! Chicago.  SUFEO’s goal is to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline by utilizing law students to advocate for CPS students and parents.  SUFEO advocates seek first to connect with parents and help them communicate with administrators effectively as well as to guide them through the suspension appeal process.  The project is co-sponsored with the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.  More information about the project and the group’s hotline number can be found here.

Lisa Christensen Gee, a Policy Analyst at Voices for Illinois Children, spoke at a Coffee Talk program sponsored by the ChildLaw Center.  Lisa presented on a recently released report from Voices that examines existing preschool opportunities and outstanding needs in Illinois.  The report provides recommendations for how Illinois can renew and strengthen its investments in early childhood education.

This seminar for school administrators addressed the research, application and implementation of best practices in school discipline.  The state and federal legal requirements relating to school discipline were covered, as well as the research demonstrating the need for reforming school disciplinary policies.  Participants had the opportunity to hear from school administrators from across the state who have been successful in implementing disciplinary reforms.  The seminar was co-sponsored by Loyola’s Education Law and Policy Institute and School of Education, together with the Illinois State Board of Education.  More information is available here.

This seminar addressed important developments in the area of education law during the last year.  Topics included recent federal guidance on school discipline, bullying and sexual violence; best practices in special education due process hearings; and other hot topics in the area of education law. More information is available here.

As part of the Civitas ChildLaw Center’s Coffee Talk series, the Education Law and Policy Institute held a panel on “Education Law Careers and Opportunities.”  The panel featured three experienced attorneys working in the field of education law who supervise Loyola law students in field placements: 

James Ciesil (JD ‘89), Deputy General Counsel, Chicago Public Schools

Amy Kosanovich Dickerson (JD ’07), Associate, Franczek Radelet P.C.

Rachel Shapiro, Staff Attorney, Equip for Equality

Loyola law students Rupa Ramadurai, Ibie Hart and Ariel Johnson; School of Law alumnae Candace Moore (JD ’13); and Associate Director of the Education Law and Policy Institute Miranda Johnson dined with Loyola New Orleans law student Allie Conlay, Tulane law student Jessica Johnson, and Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights attorney Jessica Schneider to share strategies and experiences related to educational advocacy.  The lunch followed the ABA Town Hall Meeting on School Discipline, where the Civitas ChildLaw Clinic’s work representing students in school expulsion hearings was highlighted.

Kate Gladson, a third year law student, was awarded an Equal Justice Works fellowship funded by the Albert and Anne Mansfield Family Foundation.  This prestigious two-year fellowship funds Kate to work at LAF following graduation.  The focus of her project is to protect the educational rights of low-income students impacted by school closings and other district restructuring in Chicago Public Schools, through direct representation and community education.  

The Institute coordinated a training entitled “Navigating a Charter School’s Legal Obligations When Disciplining Special Education Students,” which was part of the 2013 Statewide Charter Conference hosted by the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.  Miranda Johnson, Associate Director of the Institute, moderated the panel, which included the following presenters:

-  Mary Kay Klimesh, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP

-  Olga Pribyl, Vice President of the Special Education Clinic and Pro Bono, Equip for Equality

-  Jennifer Deutch, Parter, Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick & Kohn LLP

The Education Law and Policy Institute hosted the fall seminar of the Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys (APSCA).  The conference was sponsored by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and included a career panel for students from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

The Education Law and Policy Institute and the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law partnered to conduct an independent monitoring project for two days at Chicago Public Schools when classes resumed on Monday, August 26.  Approximately 50 volunteer project monitors, including law students, lawyers, and other professionals, were assigned to schools that were expecting new students displaced by the recent CPS closings.  Monitors worked in brief shifts on the first two days of school at CPS to welcome parents and students, as well as distribute “know your rights” materials and provide legal referrals as needed.

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The Institute hosted a training on special education law in charter schools in conjunction with the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.  The training was attended by representatives from charter school design teams, non-profit organizations, and Loyola University Chicago law students.  Presenters included attorneys from Franzek Radelet, Equip for Equality and Chicago Public Schools as well as staff from the Illinois State Board of Education and Chicago International Charter School.

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The Civitas ChildLaw Center signed on in support of the Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act

This bill was introduced into the U.S. Congress on May 7, 2013.

Caitlyn Sharon, a second year law student in the Education Law Practicum, co-authored with attorney Brian Crowley a series of articles that were posted on the website of Franczek Radelet LLP.  The articles included: 

Board Candidate Files Suit After State’s Attorney Serves Quo Warranto Action (April 30, 2013)

District Court Finds Boys’ Basketball Haircut Policy Does Not Constitute Discrimination or Infringe Student Rights (March 26, 2013)

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds City’s Invocation Policy for Council Meetings (April 2, 2013)

Ohio Court Rules Board Meeting Sign-In Process is Legal (March 26, 2013)

The Institute hosted a conference entitled “Early Childhood Education for the Future: The Creative Use of Public-Private Partnerships to Provide Cost-Effective, High-Quality School Readiness Programs.”  The training was co-sponsored by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Resource Center:  Early Childhood Professional Development. 

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The Institute has been involved in a number of activities designed to enhance the ability of charter schools to meet the needs of students with disabilities. In 2011, the Institute organized a path breaking symposium on Special Education and Charter Schools.

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In the following years, the Institute engaged further with this important topic, collaborating with the Illinois Network of Charter Schools to organize a series of trainings on special education for charter schools.

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The Institute has also focused its outreach on issues relating to education for low-income and homeless children.  In particular, the Institute co-sponsored the 2009 Public Interest Law Reporter Symposium entitled “Separate and Unequal? The Socioeconomic Realities of Public Education in America.”

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In 2006, the Institute held the first national interdisciplinary conference on The Law and Policy of Universal Preschool, an event organized in conjunction with the Loyola University Chicago School of Education and Erikson Graduate School of Child Development.

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For information on upcoming events, please visit our Conferences, Research and Outreach page.


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· E-mail: ChildLaw-Center@luc.edu · www.luc.edu/childlaw

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