This funding will support Connecticut Legal Services (CLS) in its mission to improve the lives of low-income people by providing them access to quality justice services. Through its work, CLS represents, advises and educates low-income individuals and families of their civil legal rights, helping them to secure these protections under the law. The Children at Risk (CAR) unit focuses on school, child protection and youth justice issues, and provides both individual legal assistance and targeted advocacy efforts to justly address these issues.
Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline Project
To provide legal advice and representation in partnership with New Haven Legal Assistance Association (NHLAA) to children and youth who are suspended, expelled, pushed to drop out of school or transfer to adult education, or referred to Juvenile Court for disciplinary issues by Waterbury or Meriden schools, the communities with the highest school-based arrests. CLS and NHLAA attorneys help youth obtain the educational services and accommodations to which they are entitled and, wherever possible, help to overturn suspensions and expulsions. They also represent those youth involved with Juvenile Court on disciplinary matters related to their school issues and advocate statewide reform of zero tolerance policies and disparate treatment of students of color and youth with disabilities. CLS and NHLAA provide trainings for court, school, community and police personnel, as well as parents, on students’ rights and what schools are required to provide them. They use their experiences to advocate reform of school disciplinary policies locally, as well as statewide.