Host: Public Counsel
Sponsor: Latham & Watkins LLP, Spotify
KyMara expands legal representation available to Georgia youth with disabilities, primarily Black and Brown boys, to keep them in schools free from segregation on the basis of their identity.
Of the 14,000 children in Georgia’s foster care system, only 11% graduate from high school. Georgia’s foster youth are navigating the traumatic experience of being removed from their home, and these children face harsh consequences at school when their experiences impact their behavior and conduct. School disciplinary incidents make foster youth more susceptible to suspensions and expulsions. While children are entitled to legal representation in school disciplinary hearings or tribunals, over 95% of Georgia students appear in tribunals without representation.
KyMara was inspired to use the law to impact the lives of vulnerable youth through her experiences as a high school English teacher in rural South Louisiana, where she witnessed the systemic barriers her students faced and the lasting impact of those barriers. She hopes that by advocating for foster youth, she will decrease the number of students impacted by exclusionary discipline.
KyMara will ensure that more students with disabilities in Georgia schools receive an equitable education where they are not funneled into segregated schools through the special education process. She provides special education advocacy and direct legal representation to children recommended for segregated school placement; raises awareness and engages in community outreach regarding segregated schools and its connection to school segregation; and advocates for policy reforms that will improve the lives of children in foster care, specifically those who identify as LGBTQIA+ and/or have a disability.
I believe that education can be liberating when schools are a safe space for all our youth, especially those that are most vulnerable.
KyMara Guidry /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow