2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Clayton Adams

Clayton Adams

Name of Host Organization: The Atlanta Legal Aid Society
City, State: Atlanta, Georgia
Issue area: Education/Special Education
Sponsors: UPS, Inc.; Alston & Bird, LLP

The Project

Clayton empowered parents of children with special needs to access quality education for their children. Through advocacy, legal representation, and training, Clayton prepared families to negotiate with school districts and trained parents to help other students and their families.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Many parents in Georgia lack the tools they need to ensure that public schools are responsive to the needs of their children. This deficiency disproportionately affects some of the most underserved communities in Atlanta. For instance, African-American students are almost four times more likely than other students to be identified as having a learning disability or behavioral disorder in Atlanta's schools. As a result, every year Atlanta area schools place some 1,500 African-American and Latino students in special needs settings without ensuring that their disabilities are properly identified or that placement will help students overcome their disabilities. With training and legal support, parents can improve these figures by advocating for their children’s specific needs in Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings.
Fellowship Highlights: 
During his Fellowship, Clayton:
• Trained 586 parents on their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”)
• Conducted 19 training events for parents on IEP advocacy
• Conducted six IEP training events for foster care and child welfare agencies and other partner organizations
• Provided advice and legal consultations to 111 clients
• Represented 21 clients in IEP meetings and administrative law proceedings
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Clayton will continue working to make the education system equitable regardless of race, national origin, age, gender, or disability as a General Attorney at the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. He will investigate claims of discrimination claims based on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975.

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