Alexis Piazza

  • Hosted by American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • Service location Los Angeles, California
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area Education/Special Education, Housing/Homelessness
  • Fellowship class year 2017
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Alexis provides essential support, legal advocacy, and outreach to school-age children and youth experiencing homelessness in the Inland Empire region of California between San Bernardino, Riverside, and Los Angeles.

Children experiencing homelessness are the most vulnerable student population in California. They face the same challenges as any child living in poverty, but they also face a unique set of obstacles, including higher rates of mobility, hunger, physical and mental illness, abuse and neglect, and trauma. The Inland Empire region of California is particularly devastated, with rates of homelessness that are several times the national and state averages. This project will ensure schools and school districts do everything they can to support this high-need population.

Fellowship Highlights

In the first year, Alexis has:

  • Advocated for clients to enforce their educational rights, including around access to free transportation and applying for federal financial aid as an “independent” student;
  • Trained shelter staff and school district staff about the educational rights of their residents and students;
  • With support of HPE and Morgan Lewis, developed, published, and disseminated 250 Know Your Rights materials for students experiencing homelessness as part of the ACLU’s ongoing statewide “My School My Rights” campaign;
  • With technical assistance from sponsors, administered a survey of California’s 1,500 school district homeless liaisons, with key findings and recommendations included in two forthcoming reports;
  • With sponsor support, collected and analyzed data from the California Department of Education regarding the suspension and expulsion of students experiencing homelessness, with key findings to be shared with partners via a forthcoming infographic.

What’s Next

In the next year, Alexis plans to:

  • Conduct Know Your Rights presentations to school-age students experiencing homelessness, their families, and the schools and service providers that support them;
  • Continue to represent children and youth experiencing homelessness seeking to enforce their educational rights;
  • Use liaison survey results to advocate for greater resources for students experiencing homelessness across the region and state;
  • Leverage data to advocate for policy change regarding suspension and expulsion of students experiencing homelessness;
  • Develop statewide legislation to ensure schools more effectively support students experiencing homelessness.


ACLU, parents groups pitch Pomona Unified School District with new budgeting proposal

Hidden In Plain Sight: Homeless Students

There are over 200,000 students experiencing homelessness in California alone. These students don’t just need great teachers, they also need legal advocates who can help ensure that they know their rights, can attend school, and receive the necessary support to be successful.

Alexis Piazza /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

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