Photo of Elizabeth Allen

Elizabeth Allen

  • Hosted by Disability Rights Texas
  • Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Texas Access to Justice Foundation
  • Service location Austin, Texas
  • Law school Baylor Law School
  • Issue area Disability Rights, Education/Special Education
  • Fellowship class year 2022
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Elizabeth (Lizzie) will provide education advocacy to children with disabilities in Austin, Texas. Here, she hopes to prevent and correct misplacement in segregated special education programs, disciplinary alternative education programs, and juvenile justice facilities.

Widespread systemic issues impacting the Austin Independent School District’s evaluation system resulted in delayed evaluations of thousands of students in violation of federal and state laws. This delay resulted in the misplacement of students with disabilities in segregated schools, disciplinary settings, and the juvenile justice system for unsupported disability-related behaviors. Children with disabilities are already overrepresented in these settings. What’s worse, the physical restraint of students, which is inherently traumatizing, is far more likely to happen in segregated behavior settings and to students who have disabilities. Moreover, under-resourced families are disproportionately represented in these systems, yet, are the least likely to reach out to protection and advocacy organizations for help.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Lizzie will provide direct representation and advocacy to students with disabilities at risk of and currently navigating the juvenile justice system and provide advocacy coaching to their families. She will use Disability Rights Texas’ protection and advocacy access authority to monitor segregated special education placements in the Austin area for compliance with federal disability laws and advocate for youth who have been misplaced in those settings to be returned to the regular school environment. Additionally, she will develop relationships with juvenile justice system actors and educators to locate children in need of legal services and promote a lasting reduction in misplacement of children with disabilities.

Lizzie is determined to better serve children with disabilities through a legal career in special education advocacy.

Media

Greenberg Traurig Names its 2022 Equal Justice Works Fellows

As a speech-language pathologist in the public school setting, I repeatedly encountered situations where children were not served appropriately due to areas of disability that were unidentified, and therefore, unsupported. I realized that my therapeutic training was ineffective if my students were barred from accessing it.

Elizabeth Allen /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Elizaebeth

View All

Margaret Wakelin

Host: Equip for Equality

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig Fellowship Foundation

Teresita Ramos

Host: Disability Law Center

Sponsor: Equal Justice Works Text-to-Give

Sarah Bellinger

Host: Advocacy, Inc.

Sponsor: Texas Access to Justice Foundation

Stephen Tollafield

Host: Disability Rights Advocates

Sponsor: Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy, Law Office of Guy T. Saperstein