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Lily Moens

  • Hosted by Mississippi Center for Justice
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location Jackson, Mississippi
  • Law school Harvard Law School
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Education/Special Education
  • Fellowship class year 2023
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Lily’s (she/her/hers) project aims to provide direct and systemic advocacy for special education students in Mississippi to enforce their rights, improve outcomes, and empower them to be leaders in effecting sustainable change.

Mississippi consistently receives a “needs assistance” designation from the Office of Special Education Programs due to the state’s failure to meet the needs of its nearly 70,000 special education students. More than half of those students are Black, and almost 80% are low-income. Special education students in Mississippi lack support in the classroom and are twice as likely to be excluded from school than students without disabilities. Although federal law provides protections for these students, many parents and students do not know their rights under the law, do not have time or resources to bring due process claims, and do not have the ability to obtain legal assistance.

In Mississippi, Black students in special education are five times more likely to be suspended than white students without disabilities. In her role as a Mississippi high school teacher, Lily saw the human reality of these statistics.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Lily will provide direct representation to Mississippi students with special education needs by advocating on behalf of students at their Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings, filing due process complaints against school districts that violate students’ rights, and representing students facing unlawful school exclusion. To expand the reach of her project, she will host legal clinics for parents and develop an online resource bank of Know Your Rights materials. She will also work to identify opportunities for impact litigation and legislative advocacy through which she will center students’ voices and perspectives.

As a former high school teacher in Mississippi, I saw firsthand how the education system failed my students with disabilities. My Equal Justice Works Fellowship will enable me to fight on behalf of students with disabilities to secure the services and education to which they are entitled.

Lily Moens /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Lily

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Rachel Judd

Host: Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center

Sponsor: The Morrison & Foerster Foundation

Mary Claire Hyatt

Host: Legal Aid of Arkansas

Sponsor: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Walmart, Inc.

Lily Eagle Colby

Host: Youth Law Center

Sponsor: Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Christina Campbell

Host: Center For Educational Excellence In Alternative Settings

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP