Photo of Amelia Huckins

Amelia Huckins

  • Hosted by Mississippi Center for Justice
  • Sponsored by Philip M. Stern Fellowship
  • Service location Biloxi, Mississippi
  • Law school The University of Michigan Law School
  • Issue area Education/Special Education
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Through a combination of direct representation, impact litigation, and community advocacy and education, Amelia advocated for Mississippi public school students who have been subjected to long-term suspensions and expulsions.

Every year, tens of thousands of Mississippi public school students are suspended and expelled. African American students are three times more likely to receive an out-of-school suspension or expulsion than their peers and students with disabilities are approximately twice as likely to be suspended or expelled as their peers. Students who are suspended and expelled are at a greater risk of dropping out of high school. Although these students can challenge the disciplinary action under Mississippi and federal law, many of them lack access to an attorney. The Mississippi Center for Justice supports these students and their families, but there is still a great unmet need for high-quality legal representation and advocacy.

Fellowship Highlights

Amelia helped students across Mississippi, who had been subjected to long-term suspensions and expulsions, get back into school with the appropriate supports and services they need to be successful through a combination of disciplinary appeals and due process complaints filed with the Mississippi Department of Education. She was also the counsel of record in impact litigation cases challenging the low standard of proof in Mississippi’s school discipline statute and seeking enforcement of a Mississippi law that requires schools to develop behavior intervention plans before expelling habitually disruptive students. Finally, Amelia hosted trainings for parents, educators, and other stakeholders—including juvenile public defenders and pro bono attorneys—to teach them about students’ rights and how to advocate for children facing long-term suspensions and expulsions.

Next Steps

Following her Fellowship, Amelia joined the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division through the Attorney General’s Honors Program. She serves in the Educational Opportunities Section, where she works on school desegregation cases and cases involving allegations of discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, gender, etc. in schools across the country. 

Media

The Right to an Attorney

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