Education Law Task Force

The Education Law Task Force (ELTF) has a current membership of 40 and comprises attorneys and advocates in legal services and public interest law firms to address many of the important education issues that face low-income students. The group continues to focus its attention on school discipline and the effects of zero tolerance policies and practices, particularly on low income students, students of color, and students with disabilities.

To join the ELTF, contact Janine Solomon (617) 357-8431 ext. 223 jsolomon@massadvocates.org.

Helpline & Pro Bono Legal Assistance

We provide help for children who are facing barriers to receiving educational supports and services to which they are legally entitled. Our priorities are children with disabilities, homeless children, children who have been expelled or suspended from school, and children traumatized by exposure to family violence or other adverse experiences.

Visit the Helpline section of our website for more information.

MAC has always maintained a panel of private bar attorneys to take special education cases for children with disabilities of low-income clients on a pro bono basis. MAC identifies appropriate cases from calls to its Helpline and seeks an attorney willing and able to provide legal representation.

Homeless Children and School

Homeless children have their lives disrupted in many ways: they can lose the familiar anchors of family, friends, school, and the very bed they sleep in and house they live in.  MAC advocates for children whose schooling is disrupted, who are forced to live in a homeless shelter, motel or in a temporary arrangement far from their previous home and outside their school district.  The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act guarantees the right of children who are homeless to maintain the continuity of their education. MAC works with others to enforce that law in Massachusetts through the state Department of Education.

MAC released its manual for lawyers and advocates, Educational Rights of Children Affected by Homelessness and/or Domestic Violence, in April 2006. This manual provides advocacy tools for implementing laws that protect the education rights of homeless children (McKinney-Vento Act and special education laws), keep them safe (protective orders and confidentiality rights at school), and provide them with shelter. The Handbook provides a special focus on children affected by both homelessness and domestic violence. The full text is available in the Publications section of our website.

Recently, MAC provided legal representation to a homeless family. Although the family was still doubled up with friends, the school district claimed that they were no longer homeless. Despite vigorous opposition by the school district, DESE upheld the student’s appeal that her family remained homeless and eligible for McKinney-Vento services, including the right to be transported daily to and from the school district.