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Case of Y.J.

Seventeen-year-old Y.J. is an 11th grade special education student attending high school in the San Lorenzo District. In November 2009, she was suspended from high school. Although Y.J. has a learning disability and an individualized education plan, the District found that her behavior was not a manifestation of her disability and initiated expulsion proceedings against her. Pending her expulsion hearing, Y.J. was placed in an alternative education program including four hours per week of individualized instruction. The District's proposed post-expulsion placement was a continuation school that Y.J. did not want to attend due to educational and safety concerns. YELP students Jenna Sheldon-Sherman (’11) and Luke Weiger (’10) then began representing Y.J. in her expulsion and special education matters.

After conversations with the District's attorney and Director of Student Support Services, Jenna and Luke were able to negotiate a suspended expulsion with the District that included an option to remain in the alternative education program, with an additional two hours of instruction per week. Jenna and Luke next confronted Y.J.’s special education needs. Although Y.J. is enrolled in the 11th grade, she is severely credit-deficient and in jeopardy of not completing high school. She is also lacking direction for future career goals and opportunities. To help meet Y.J.’s education and future career-related needs, Jenna and Luke accompanied Y.J. to an individualized education plan (IEP) meeting where they clarified her high-school completion goals and discussed transition services. Y.J. will now have the option of enrolling in career-related classes that will provide her with the opportunity to accumulate additional credit towards graduation and the chance to get hands-on experience with a possible future vocation. Y.J., her mother, and her educators note that Y.J. is presently making more educational progress than she has in years.