Courtney Yadoo

  • Hosted by New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)
  • Sponsored by Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school Georgetown University Law Center
  • Issue area Education/Special Education
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Courtney advocated for students with disabilities at New York Legal Assistance Group. In New York City, families often have difficulty navigating the transition from preschool to kindergarten. Courtney provided direct representation, community education, and policy advocacy on behalf of these students. The project helped families secure appropriate educational evaluations, school programs, and related services for their children in kindergarten.

In New York City schools, there are more than 20,000 students with autism. These students – 78% of whom qualify for free and reduced price lunch – are often denied necessary services, supports, and interventions in violation of the law. This project advocates for these students during a particularly critical juncture: the transition from preschool to kindergarten, called the Turning Five Process. It helps families secure appropriate school placements and special education services, ensuring that students begin kindergarten on the right educational trajectory.

Before law school, she taught first, second, and third-grade students in Integrated Co-Teaching classrooms in Harlem and Brooklyn. Courtney’s project was inspired when she saw the transformative power of early education firsthand.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Courtney:

  • Gave 10 Know-Your-Rights presentations to families and school staff in partnership with preschools
  • Developed collaborative relationships with preschools in all five boroughs 
  • Launched a Turning 5 helpline to provide families with resources and support with the kindergarten admissions and IEP process
  • Represented families at Turning 5 IEP meetings
  • Represented families at administrative impartial hearings, obtaining funding for appropriate school placements, compensatory services, and independent educational evaluations
  • Negotiated settlements with the Department of Education on behalf of families

Next Steps

Courtney will continue to advocate for students with disabilities as a staff attorney in the Special Education Unit at New York Legal Assistance Group.

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Christina Beeler

Host: Juvenile and Children’s Advocacy Project

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Host: Georgia Appleseed Center for Law & Justice

Sponsor: Anonymous

Annie Kanzow

Host: Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida

Sponsor: The Florida Bar Foundation

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Amelia Huckins

Host: Mississippi Center for Justice

Sponsor: Friends and Family of Philip M. Stern