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Elisabeth Lambert Headshot

Elisabeth Lambert

  • Hosted by American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin
  • Sponsored by Anonymous, Wm. Collins Kohler Foundation
  • Service location Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Law school Marquette University Law School
  • Issue area Education/Special Education
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

As a Fellow with the ACLU of Wisconsin, Elisabeth challenged discriminatory practices and policies in Wisconsin public schools through administrative complaints and litigation.

Racial and anti-LGBTQIA+ discrimination are a widespread problem in Wisconsin public schools. Children in these protected categories are expelled and suspended at much higher rates than their peers, and many school districts in the state report dozens of incidents of discriminatory harassment every year. Elisabeth represented students and families in administrative processes to enforce the state and federal laws prohibiting such discrimination in public schools. Through these cases, she secured important clarifications of nondiscrimination standards under Wisconsin law and of complainants’ procedural rights.

Prior to her Fellowship, Elisabeth taught English for several years in a racially diverse public high school near Milwaukee, where she witnessed firsthand how exclusionary discipline impacted students and the learning community. She left the classroom for law school to become a stronger advocate for young people facing injustice at school.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Elisabeth:
  • Represented 22 individual clients in eight school districts in administrative pupil discrimination complaints to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.
  • Provided 13 Know Your Rights trainings to students, families, and community organizations, teaching participants to recognize unlawful school discrimination and formally address it using Wisconsin’s statutory complaint process.
  • Provided brief legal guidance to 150 Wisconsin residents who reached out to the ACLU for help on school discrimination matters.
  • Won significant rulings from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, which established the standard for hostile environment claims under state law and clarified requirements for a reasonable school district investigation of a discrimination complaint.

Next Steps

Elisabeth will remain at the ACLU of Wisconsin as a staff attorney. She will continue to focus on education equity issues, building on the momentum she established during her Fellowship.


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