Matthew Bedrick

  • Hosted by National Center for Youth Law
  • Sponsored by Cooley LLP
  • Service location Oakland, California
  • Law school University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  • Issue area Education/Special Education, Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Matt advocated to ensure that detained and recently released unaccompanied immigrant children receive the education services to which they are entitled through developing new litigation, supporting class action lawsuits, policy advocacy, collaborating with local organizations, and creating informative resources.

As of June 2021, there were over 17,000 unaccompanied children (“UCs”) in federal immigrant detention. These children are entitled to education services under federal law, state law, and the Flores Settlement Agreement. Tragically, federal and state governments frequently fail to provide the required services, particularly special education, which leaves UCs ill-equipped for public schools when they are released to their families in the U.S. Furthermore, some public schools create enrollment obstacles for released children, fail to provide them with required services, or push them into alternative education programs.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Matt has:

  • Developed potential new litigation to enforce the education rights of UCs with disabilities in more restrictive Office of Refugee Resettlement (“ORR”) facilities
  • Wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Education urging it to issue new guidance that States and Local Education Agencies must comply with federal special education laws as applied to UCs with qualifying disabilities in their jurisdictions
  • Conducted two Flores monitoring visits to ORR facilities and six trauma-informed interviews with UCs to learn about their experiences, obtain key evidence, and amplify their stories in ongoing advocacy;
  • Wrote a memorandum on the ability to use materials from earlier lawsuits in the Lucas R. v. Azar case, which helped to inform strategic litigation decisions
  • Provided brief services and referrals to 15 individuals who had youth law issues, including issues related to disability accommodations in schools
  • In total, Matt and his team’s work potentially benefited over 70,000 immigrant children

Next Steps

Matt is moving to New York City and will continue working as a public interest attorney.


• Alumni Secure Release of Immigrant Child Detainees to Shield Them from COVID-19

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