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Katherine Gladson

  • Hosted by Legal Aid Chicago
  • Sponsored by Albert & Anne Mansfield Foundation
  • Service location Chicago, Illinois
  • Law school Loyola University Chicago School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Education/Special Education
  • Fellowship class year 2014
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

In 2013, the Board of Education of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) closed 49 neighborhood elementary schools in low-income areas—the largest mass school closing in national history—disproportionately impacting minority students. School closings and other forms of district restructuring destabilize communities, increase student mobility, and raise the risk that services for students with special needs will be disrupted, delayed, or discontinued. Restructuring by CPS has consistently affected the city’s most academically vulnerable and economically disadvantaged: studies show that between 80 and 90 percent of Chicago students affected by school closings and restructuring are African American. Katherine’s project aimed to protect the educational rights of low-income students, allowing them to transition safely and productively into new learning environments.

Fellowship Highlights

During her Fellowship, Katherine provided legal assistance, including brief advice and direct representation, to nearly 70 students facing issues with special education, school discipline, enrollment, and school records issues. In conjunction with seven other Chicago-based legal service providers, Katherine helped to coordinate the joint submission of comments to CPS’ guidelines for school actions in 2014 and 2015. Additionally, Katherine compiled a searchable summary of 54 hearing officer reports from 2013 Chicago school closings; created factsheets and other resources regarding the school action process; and authored a white paper about the issue of school closings as well as strategies for representing impacted students, which she presented at a national education conference for parents, attorneys, and advocates.

What’s Next

Katherine is now a staff attorney at Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center in Denver, CO,  where she practices in the areas of education, caregiver advocacy, and domestic violence.


Defending Public Schools

School Closing Victory—The Fight to Save National Teachers Academy

An Issue Too Big for One Practice Group

Kate Gladson Stands for…Education

Why is CPS closing a successful school?

We are trying to ensure that students make educational progress and eventually become self-sustaining adults. It is one of the best, most proactive ways to improve life outcomes for young people.

Katherine Gladson /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

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