2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Annie Lee

Annie Lee

Name of Host Organization: National Center for Youth Law
City, State: Oakland, California
Issue area: Education/Special Education, Children/Youth
Sponsors: Oracle Corporation; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

The Project

Annie improved educational outcomes of California foster youth by ensuring effective implementation of the landmark foster youth education provisions of Assembly Bill 97 (Local Control Funding Formula or LCFF) through legal and policy advocacy.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
In California, more than 57,000 children are in foster care. Given the abuse or neglect that resulted in their removal from their parents and the additional trauma from instability in the child welfare system, foster youth face academic challenges. Even when compared with similarly economically disadvantaged students, foster youth are less likely to graduate from high school, enroll in college, or remain in college. In 2013, California passed Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and became the first state in the country to hold school districts accountable for the educational outcomes of foster youth. LCFF implementation at the state and local levels presents unprecedented opportunity to close the foster youth achievement gap.
Fellowship Highlights: 
• Organized a coalition that successfully advocated for foster youth education provisions to be included in Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD) 2015-16 Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), totaling $160,500 in LCFF funding
• Tripled the staff size of OUSD’s Foster Youth Program, which serves over 450 foster youth students in the district
• Testified nine times before the State Board of Education and three times before the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence to advocate that LCFF regulations address the unique educational needs of foster youth
• Participated in three high impact litigation cases regarding foster youth rights and education rights, benefiting over 7,000 students and potentially even more through precedent
• Delivered 11 presentations on LCFF to over 400 advocates, school district and county officials, and foster youth
• Developed nine LCFF resources, including fact sheets and a model foster youth LCAP, to assist school districts in meeting the education needs of foster youth
• Published two online articles about LCFF and foster youth
• Represented high school students in 19 special education meetings, overcoming expulsion notices and ensuring students received special education services in less restrictive environments
What's Next: 
In the next six months, Annie plans to:
• Develop model AB 97 regulations to share with policymakers
• Continue collaboration with foster youth advocates regarding upcoming AB 97 regulations
• Improve and update the foster youth education plans of individual school districts
• Assist school districts in implementing actions and services to improve foster youth educational outcomes
• Begin pro bono projects with fellowship sponsors
• Continue direct representation of students
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Annie plans to:
• Continue fighting for vulnerable students as a Staff Attorney at the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights in San Francisco.

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