Photo of Sabrina Bernadel

Sabrina Bernadel

  • Hosted by National Women's Law Center
  • Sponsored by Danaher Corporation
  • Service location Washington, District of Columbia
  • Law school Georgetown University Law Center
  • Issue area Education/Special Education
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Sabrina will provide legal services and legislative advocacy for girls of color to ensure access to education that is free of discriminatory discipline, harassment, and violence from school-based police. 

School resource officers (“SROs”) and other school-based police exacerbate school pushoutespecially for Black girls, who are overrepresented in every aspect of school discipline. According to the most recent U.S. Department of Education data, Black girls have made up only 17% of the national student population in recent school years but have accounted for 39% of girls arrested at school. As victims of “adultification bias, Black and brown girls are often viewed as less innocent than their peersThis bias creates a barrier to connecting girls of color with the supports they need, such as mental health resources or even legal representationWhen paired with untrained officers and school policies that allow discipline to turn on subjective impressions of student behavior, this bias also leads SROs to harshly disciplinesexually harass, and exclude girls of color—ultimately pushing them out of schools and into the criminal justice system. 

As a first-generation Haitian-American, Sabrina grew up relying on spaces and mentors in schools to help her explore her identity as a woman of colorToday, she is dedicated to educational equity work as a means of keeping schools safe for girls of color as they similarly come into their own. 

Fellowship Plans

In an effort to stop school pushout at the hands of school-based police, Sabrina will pilot a telephone helpline service in seven identified priority states that students, parents, and schools can use to seek legal assistance related to discriminatory SRO actions. She will also collaborate with community-based organizations to engage in legislative advocacy and host know-your-rights trainings to raise awareness of how vague state laws and school policies contribute to the criminalization of girls of color. Over the course of her fellowship, Sabrinwill help schools and policymakers center girls of color in discussions about school safety and highlight how funds spent on SROs can be diverted to giving all children the resources they need to thrive.

Media 

‘Sexist,’ ‘Racist,’ ‘Classist’: Georgia 8th Grader Challenges School Dress Code

Eighth grader protests 'sexist' school dress code

How a 13-year-old girl is challenging a 'sexist,' 'racist,' 'classist' school dress code

Georgia 8th grader fights school dress code that she claims is sexist

Sacrifice the Status Quo, So Families Don’t Have to Sacrifice for Education

Will Democracy Keep Black Girls Safe?: The Protecting Our Students in Schools Act

Will Democracy Keep Black Girls Safe?: The Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act

Will Democracy Keep Black Girls Safe?: The Ending PUSHOUT Act

In 2020, Black Women Kept Democracy Safe, but Will Democracy Keep Black Girls Safe? A Series on Creating Better, Safer Schools for Girls of Color

DeVos’ Hypocritical Power Grab at the Department of Education

At a very young age, I witnessed my parents make significant sacrifices for me to obtain a quality education. Since then, I have viewed education as a powerful doorway to opportunity, the access to which should not depend on someone’s race, gender, income, or zip code.

Sabrina Bernadel /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Sabrina

View All

Margaret Wakelin

Host: Equip for Equality

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig Fellowship Foundation

Photo of Amelia Huckins

Amelia Huckins

Host: Mississippi Center for Justice

Sponsor: Friends and Family of Philip M. Stern

Tovah Pentelovitch

Host: Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Texas Access to Justice Foundation

Teresita Ramos

Host: Disability Law Center

Sponsor: Equal Justice Works Text-to-Give