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Headshot of Ross Charles Layton

Ross Layton

  • Hosted by Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
  • Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP
  • Service location Washington, District of Columbia
  • Law school Washington University in St. Louis School of Law
  • Issue area Disability Rights, Education/Special Education
  • Fellowship class year 2024
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Ross (he/him/his) will advocate for higher education students with mental health disabilities, using direct representation and other strategies to safeguard their rights against discrimination by public educational institutions.

Although existing laws are meant to protect students from discrimination on the basis of mental health disabilities, institutions of higher education are rarely held to adequate compliance standards. With these disabilities proliferating on college campuses in recent years, the need for legal responses is increasingly urgent—especially for students at community colleges and other public institutions, where there is currently little advocacy infrastructure. Such students deserve protection when their schools seek to exclude them or otherwise discriminate against them, threatening their educations.

Fellowship Plans

During his Fellowship, Ross will assert the rights of individual students in administrative proceedings regarding reasonable accommodations and involuntary withdrawal from enrollment. He will also develop and distribute self-advocacy materials, and he will build a regional referral network in order to train and connect other advocates. Finally, he will design and begin to implement an impact litigation strategy, creating a model for ongoing efforts.

I was lucky enough to continue and complete my education after mental health struggles led to a long involuntary withdrawal from my undergraduate studies. Now it’s time to pay that fortune forward.

Ross Layton /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Ross

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Amanda Glass

Host: Arizona Center For Disability Law

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Teresita Ramos

Host: Disability Law Center

Sponsor: Equal Justice Works Text-to-Give

Margaret Wakelin

Host: Equip for Equality

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Sarah Bellinger

Host: Advocacy, Inc.

Sponsor: Texas Access to Justice Foundation