Education First

Education First: End the School to Prison Pipeline

Direct Representation in Suspension, Expulsion, Special Education and select Municipal Court Cases

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CJDC’s Education First program is one of the only pro-bono legal representation programs in Colorado that provides direct representation to low income youth in expulsion, suspension and special education proceedings.   The program also provides legal representation in municipal court proceedings where the underlying alleged conduct results in the initiation of school disciplinary proceedings.

School suspensions and expulsions do not work. They lead to higher drop out rates and increase the risks for law enforcement or criminal cases. Furthermore, they disproportionately target students of color and students with special education services.  While Colorado had embarked on reform efforts regarding out-of-school suspensions and expulsions, it appears that the data is showing some problematic statewide trends away from that reform.

In Colorado during the 2017-2018 school year there were:

  • 93,337 suspensions
    • The highest total suspensions since 2010
    • 7,000 more suspensions than the 2016-2017 school year.
  • 1,022 expulsions
    • The most expulsions since 2014-2015 school year

School referrals to law enforcement are on the rise in Colorado:

  • In the 2018-2019 school year there were 4,550 referrals to law enforcement
    • The highest total of law enforcement referrals since 2013-2014 school year,
    •  1,1015 more than the 2016-2017 school year
    • 543 more than the 2017-2018 school year

https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdereval/suspend-expelcurrent

We received generous support from the Nord Family Foundation to begin the program.  First, we hired Elie Zwiebel as our Education Law Staff Attorney. With a background in education prior to law school and a passion for fighting the school to prison pipeline and the disproportionate impact of school discipline on students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students, Elie was thrilled to join our team with the purpose of supporting special education advocacy and representing students in disciplinary proceedings—especially for young people with collateral delinquency cases. CJDC will provides legal support and assistance to students, their families, attorneys, education advocates and community organizations. CJDC has provided education law trainings to lawyers and advocates across Colorado.

So far in 2019, Elie Zwiebel represents or has represented close to 40 youth in educational related proceedings and CJDC represented additional youth in municipal criminal court cases where the underlying conduct result in school disciplinary proceedings.

If you know a youth who may benefit from our Education First representation services please contact CJDC at elie@cjdc.org; kristin@cjdc.org or call us at 303-435-7232

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