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Youth and Education Law Project


Special Education Cases

  • A 4-year-old child who attends a county Early Childhood Center that he and his parents enjoy, has a dangerous and unusual tonic-clonic seizure disorder.

  • A 13-year-old boy in the 8th grade suffers from clinical depression and family strife: he comes from a caring, but very low-income, single-parent home, and has witnessed domestic violence.

  • A.V. suffers from both cortical visual impairment and traumatic brain injuries, and required the expertise of a county classroom for the visually impaired, as well as orientation and mobility instruction.

  • A blind, multiple-disabled, 17-year-old high school student, C.C.'s educational program needs must be met through a state school that serves blind children.

  • Clinic students Bridget Kerlin ('06) and Ruth Barnes ('07) opened the doors of F.P.'s public high school, after months of failed negotiations between the parent and the school.

  • For several months, J.O., a hard-of-hearing middle school student, was denied the sign-language interpreter services specified in his individual education plan under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

  • M.E. is a 3rd grade student with attention difficulties that often lead to inappropriately physical behavior in school. When his mother came to the clinic for assistance, M.E. was out of school on his second suspension of the year (for a playful but overly physical altercation with another student), pending a possible expulsion. M.E.'s mother believed that school personnel had labeled M.E. as a troublemaker, and were singling him out for disciplinary action.

  • J.V. is a high school student with agoraphobia, depressive anxiety, generalized anxiety and bipolar disorder whose primary issue is school (and other social setting) avoidance.

  • When J.C., a six-year old nonverbal boy with severe autism, first came to YELP, the school had placed him in a general education kindergarten classroom without any autism-specific interventions or staff-support trained in autism.

  • A 7-year-old boy suffered traumatic brain injury (ataxia) after choking on a peanut at the age of 3. Until that time, he was a healthy child, and of typical development in all respects.

Civil Litigation Matters

  • In a closely watched civil rights lawsuit involving the Berkeley Unified School District, YELP and its co-counsel, Legal Services for Children, Inc. and Bingham McCutchen LLP, achieved a notable settlement for students of color who were subject to unlawful school discipline procedures. Under the agreement, African American and Latino students, who filed the federal class action lawsuit in August 2004 for being wrongfully expelled from Berkeley High School were allowed to return to classes.

  • When D.J., a student with significant mobility and visual impairments, was a 16 year-old sophomore, he had difficulty accessing parts of the high school facilities and much of his curriculum due to his disabilities.

  • YELP is lead counsel in a class action lawsuit filed in 1996 against the California Department of Education (CDE) and the Ravenswood City School District (the District) seeking to reform the District's special education service delivery system and the CDE's monitoring and oversight system in the District. Specifically, after witnessing the District's failure to properly identify children with disabilities, assess those children, and provide them with a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment, a group of eight named plaintiffs brought the Emma C.

  • The Youth & Education Law Project of Stanford Law School's Mills Legal Clinic and the law firm of Bingham McCutchen are representing children and their families in a historic lawsuit that was filed on May 20, 2010 against the State of California.

  • Limited jurisdiction of the court continuing On August, 31, 2007, YELP celebrated a significant victory when United States District Court Judge Jeffrey White (N.D. Cal.) approved a comprehensive settlement agreement in a complex disability and educational rights matter.

School Discipline Cases

  • YELP successfully represented a 16-year old student, M.H., who was suspended and later expelled from her high school because of heated comments made during an altercation with another student.

  • YELP students Rachel Velcoff ('08) and Craig Zieminski ('08) represented the family of a 13-year old middle school student who had been expelled for bringing a pellet gun to school.

  • Stephanie Ahmad (’11) and Sean Hassan (’11) represented a 10th grade student, L.A., in an expulsion matter. L.A. punched another student at the behest of his older brother. Despite the fact that L.A. had no prior disciplinary incident on his record, the school and school district took an extremely harsh stance, recommending that he be expelled for hitting the other student.

  • YELP successfully averted a "zero-tolerance" policy expulsion in favor of a 15-year-old 9th grader. Less than two months into her new school setting, A.V. was charged with felonious possession of a weapon on school grounds and placed in expulsion proceedings. However, the weapon had been placed in her backpack, unbeknownst to her and the student responsible for it later removed it from her backpack.

  • YELP clinic student Christine Sebourn ('08) worked swiftly to prevent the expulsion of A. R., a 7-year-old student with autism spectrum disorder.

  • YELP students Adanna Love ('11) and Stephanie Ahmad ('11) represented a seventh grade student, T.F., in expulsion proceedings after she was found in possession of a small amount of marijuana.

  • YELP students Jenna Sheldon-Sherman ('11) and Luke Weiger ('10) represented fifteen-year-old, A.F., in reenrolling in high school after being denied admission for over 2 months.

  • F.O. is a 16-year-old product of neglect of the school system, which over the years has allowed him to slowly drop from performing at the 50th percentile on standardized tests to between the first and fifth percentiles, because of unrecognized learning disabilities.

  • 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.

  • YELP achieved a recent success in reaching an agreement with the Berkeley Unified School District that allows their client, who had been recommended for expulsion, to complete his senior year of high school and receive a diploma from Berkeley High while fulfilling his credits through Independent Study.