Karmena Diggs

  • Hosted by Advocates for Children of New York
  • Sponsored by The Morrison & Foerster Foundation
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school Georgetown University Law Center
  • Issue area Education/Special Education
  • Fellowship class year 2015
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Karmena provided direct legal representation, community outreach, and policy advocacy to help low-income students with disabilities in New York City learn to read proficiently so they can succeed in school.

In New York City, 200,000 students—nearly one out of five—are classified as students with disabilities. While teaching students to read is a fundamental responsibility of schools, the most recent state tests reveal that a startling 93 percent of students with disabilities in NYC are not proficient in reading. Students who do not learn to read proficiently have a higher likelihood of remaining trapped in poverty and are more likely to experience school failure, drop out of school, be unemployed, and become involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The law requires that students with disabilities receive supports and services to meet their learning needs, including specially designed reading instruction, assistive technology, and modified text. This project will connect these students to the unique services and evidence-based approaches that they need.

Fellowship Highlights

During the Fellowship period, Karmena:

  • Received intensive training on representing students with disabilities from experienced Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) attorneys
  • Meet with key partners to discuss barriers students face in learning to read and effective strategies and programs for teaching students to read
  • Developed know-your-rights presentations and informational flyers for parents of students who are struggling to read
  • Provided advice and case representation for families of students with disabilities who call AFC’s Education Helpline or are referred by other sources

Meet Other Fellows Like Karmena

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Devon Rios

Host: Learning Rights Law Center

Sponsor: Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP

Jennifer Levin

Host: The Legal Center

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Matthew Bedrick

Host: National Center for Youth Law

Sponsor: Cooley LLP

Current Fellow

Photo of Amelia Huckins

Amelia Huckins

Host: Mississippi Center for Justice

Sponsor: Philip M. Stern Fellowship

Current Fellow