With the approach of the new school year only weeks away, Maryland Legal Aid and other legal advocates presented a training for lawyers and paralegals who will assist parents, guardians, and other caregivers with problems getting children enrolled in public schools.
“We know a lot of kids and their families will have problems enrolling in school,” said Sarah Morgan, a Legal Aid staff attorney who works on education issues. “Lots of kids are living with relatives, plus many kids in foster care have trouble enrolling in school when they change living locations. Also, homeless kids face unique barriers to enrollment and have special protections under federal law, including the right to stay in their old school if they move out of the school’s zone.”
The training for advocates, held earlier this month in Columbia, included presentations from lawyers from Legal Aid, the Public Justice Center (which produced a video on the rights of homeless students) and the Homeless Persons Representation Project.
In addition, a panel of Legal Aid lawyers reviewed some difficult school enrollment cases they’ve handled over the years.
“Every kid has the right to be in school,” Morgan said. “But often times they need a lawyer to help them through the bureaucracy and red tape. It’s critical that children not miss a day of schooling, especially at the beginning of the school year.”
Morgan also updated a brochure, “Enrolling Children in Baltimore City Schools: Know Your Rights,” that explains rights and procedures for parents, guardians and caregivers. For a copy, call Morgan at 410/951-7729.