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The Educational Opportunities Project (“EOP”) strives to guarantee that all students receive equal educational opportunities in public schools and institutions of higher learning. Working with private law firms and community leaders, the EOP has been successful in promoting diverse and integrated learning environments; enforcing the rights of students with disabilities and English Language Learners; challenging discriminatory school discipline policies, student assignment practices; as well as school funding inequities. Currently, the EOP is leading efforts to defend race conscious college admissions policies, and represents a diverse set of underrepresented minority students at Harvard College and the University of North Carolina. The EOP also recently secured a victory in one of the most important higher education desegregation cases to be brought in decades — a case that will restore equity for Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Current Litigation

  • Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard
  • Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Students for Fair Admissions v. University of Texas at Austin
  • Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education v. Maryland Higher Education Commission: Maryland Historically Black Colleges and Universities Litigation

Education Amid COVID-19

Educational Equity

Education Amid COVID-19

WEBINAR: COVID-19 and Educational Civil Rights: A Rising Tide of Litigation Issues

May 7, 2020

COVID-19 has wreaked unprecedented havoc on families, schools and school districts across the nation.  Above all, it has magnified racial and ethnic inequities not just in schools, but also across communities and states.  While states and school districts have physically closed many schools, they still have duties to deliver a quality education to every child and to deliver that education in an equitable and meaningful manner. The challenges for underserved communities of color are only expected to grow as the end of the crisis remains elusive and states grapple with decreasing budgets.

On May 7th, a group of prominent, national civil rights litigators discussed various considerations state and district leaders and local stakeholders should be accounting for in making short-term and long-term educational decisions and how federal and state civil rights laws may be a springboard for communities to act upon in the courts should policymakers and education leaders fail underserved students of color (including English Learners and students with disabilities) and their schools.

Presentation

Recording

Moderator:
David Hinojosa, Director, Educational Opportunities Project, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Panelists:
Selene Almazan, Legal Director, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc.
Mark Dorosin, Managing Attorney, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Sarah Hinger, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Racial Justice Program
Kathryn Eidmann, Robins Kaplan Supervisory Senior Attorney, Public Counsel

Deuel Ross, Senior Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
David Sciarra, Executive Director, Education Law Center
Brenda Shum, Senior Directing Attorney, National Center for Youth Law

 

 

Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard
In July 2018, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – along with a coalition of other civil rights groups – joined Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard and submitted an amicus brief to support Harvard’s motion for summary judgement in the lawsuit. This coalition, which represents a cohort of racially diverse applicants, current students, and alumni at Harvard College, offers expertise to assist the court in its ruling.

The coalition was given special “amicus plus” status, which will allow the represented students to participate in oral argument and submit evidence, greatly enhancing their voices beyond a typical amicus brief.

In the amicus brief, the coalition asserts that ethno-racial diversity is crucial to students; not only educationally, but also personally and professionally. It also explains that Harvard’s current admissions policy is in compliance with the Supreme Court in that it does not treat race as the primary consideration for admission, and that Harvard has a vested interest in promoting greater representation of, and diversity within, students of color through continued consideration of race as part of a holistic admissions process.

Anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions originally brought this lawsuit against Harvard in 2014. It challenges Harvard’s race-conscious holistic admissions policy under claims that the policy intentionally discriminates against Asian American students and violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The case is currently preparing to go to the Supreme Court.

PRESS RELEASES:

NEWS CLIPS:

BLOG POST:

LEGAL DOCUMENTS:

  • Amicus brief: Memorandum of Amici Curiae in Support Of Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment on Remaining Counts II, III, V in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., Plaintiff, v. President and Fellows Of Harvard College (Harvard Corporation), Defendant.
PREP

The Mission of the Parental Readiness and Empowerment Program

The Parental Readiness and Empowerment Program (PREP) seeks to improve K-12 student performance, retention, and access to equal educational opportunities. We serve low-income and minority children in targeted communities by increasing parental engagement in education and ensuring that parents become successful advocates for their children. Our goal is for every child to have meaningful access to a quality education.
PREP is about improving education for all students. We use a creative model, combining the energies of parents, schools, civil rights groups, the private bar and the corporate sector. Together we create a powerful potential for advocacy on behalf of students who are often excluded from or denied educational opportunity.

PREP is about equality. It is about education. It is about ordinary people learning to advocate for themselves. And it is a growing force that began as a single pilot program, and is scaling up to sites across the country.

Why parental empowerment? Why PREP?

Parental empowerment is an important part of ensuring that children have the opportunity to succeed in education. Research clearly demonstrates that parental involvement is one of the pillars of educational achievement. The difference between an involved parent and a disengaged one can make as much as a whole grade level difference in a child’s academic achievement.

Parental engagement matters for academic success in a number of ways:

  • Parental effort correlates with high achievement and high levels of school resources
  • Parental involvement produces higher achievement in urban schools
  • Parental engagement has long-term effects on student success
  • PREP can improve the amount and quality of this parental engagement. Attendees of our workshops and
    trainings report an improved ability to advocate on behalf of their children. Programs that encourage parents to be active in their children’s education can result in improved long-term academic success.

By focusing on low-income and minority communities, PREP will improve academic achievement for historically disadvantaged populations, and help them to advocate for themselves in the face of exclusion or discrimination. PREP therefore works to reverse historic trends of marginalization and neglect, and gives parents the resources they need to ensure that the next generation never has to suffer from unequal access to opportunity and success.

To learn more, please visit the Prep Website

Let Us Learn: Schools For Every Child
Let Us Learn: Schools for Every Child is an initiative of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to protect the constitutional right of all children, regardless of their immigration status, to attend public school in the United States. Confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Plyler v. Doe, immigrant and refugee children have a right to a K-12 education, and school districts cannot deny this basic right based on a student’s or their parent’s immigration status.

Let Us Learn seeks to protect this right through outreach to three important groups – state Attorneys General, school districts, and parents and students. Specifically, we have:

  • Sent letters to the Attorneys General of all 50 states and the District of Columbia urging them to enforce their responsibilities under the law and provide clear, written guidance to the educators of their states on their constitutional obligations.
  • Identified thirty school districts around the country whose policies appear to be out of compliance with the law and demanded that they reform their policies and/or clarify their online enrollment information in order to protect the right of all children to access an education.
  • Developed and compiled resources on school enrollment to ensure that parents, students, and teachers know their rights under the law.
  • Created online form for parents and educators to ask questions about school enrollment and anonymously report school districts whose policies appear out of compliance with the law.

Fill out the Let Us Learn online intake form if:

  • You are worried that your school may report you or your child to ICE;
  • Your child been discouraged or denied enrollment in school because of their immigration status; or
  • You want to ask a question about school enrollment policies.

We welcome you to explore the resources we have created as well as those we link to from others organizations.

You can contact us at [email protected].

Resources

Fifty-seven civil rights and education organizations signed onto the principles, asking members of Congress to fulfill their role in helping educators and communities create and maintain safe schools that afford all students equal educational opportunities by incorporating these principles into all relevant legislation.

The principles cover issues of school climate, including students’ civil rights, discipline practices, childhood trauma, harassment and discrimination, data collection, school infrastructure, school-based law enforcement, and students’ health and safety. The proposed changes will prevent further disenfranchisement and criminalization of historically marginalized students, including students of color, students with disabilities, LGBTQ youth, religious minorities, sexual assault survivors, and immigrant students, among others.

Read Principles here