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Headshot of Katie Martinez

Katie Martinez

  • Hosted by School Justice Project
  • Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Steptoe & Johnson LLP
  • Service location Washington, District of Columbia
  • Law school Harvard Law School
  • Issue area Criminal Justice Reform, Education/Special Education
  • Fellowship class year 2023
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Katie (she/her/hers) will launch the first long-term education legal desks in D.C. detention centers to enforce the right of detained students with disabilities to a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

The vast majority of young people in D.C.’s juvenile and adult criminal systems have a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Despite their statutory right to a free appropriate public education until age 22, their education is often disrupted during periods of secure detention and commitment, leading to disengagement, academic failure, and often further court involvement. Yet, with access to an education attorney on an as-needed basis, detained students—almost 100% of whom are young people of color—can address education obstacles before they become formidable obstacles. With additional support during periods of transition, they can obtain the education to which they are entitled and simultaneously reduce their likelihood of entering the adult criminal system.

Fellowship Plans

To promote education continuity for court-involved young people, Katie and the School Justice Project will establish the first-ever long-term education legal desks (ELDs) in D.C.’s secure detention centers. Through the ELDs, Katie will provide brief legal services and extended legal representation to detained young people in education matters. In addition, she will provide regular know-your-rights trainings to students, their families, and agency staff on topics such as basic protections under the IDEA for students with disabilities, how to understand education documents, and high school graduation requirements in D.C. These trainings will empower students to advocate for their education rights, as well as enable them to identify when they may need additional support from legal counsel.

Media

Greenberg Traurig Sponsors Record 201st Equal Justice Works Fellow

A quality education is critical to disrupting cycles of court involvement and poverty. Through my Equal Justice Works Fellowship, I can continue serving young people in the District of Columbia so that they can access both the education and the bright futures that they deserve.

Katie Martinez /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Katie

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Headshot of Jaden Lajyll Zwick Ojeaburu

Jaden Lajyll Zwick Ojeaburu

Host: The Collective for Liberatory Lawyering

Sponsor: Equal Justice Works Text-to-Give

Current Fellow

Christina Beeler

Host: Juvenile and Children’s Advocacy Project

Sponsor: Latham & Watkins LLP

Lashawnda Woods-Roberts

Host: Georgia Appleseed Center for Law & Justice

Sponsor: Anonymous

Annie Kanzow

Host: Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, Inc.

Sponsor: The Florida Bar Foundation