Taylor Jones

  • Hosted by National Center for Youth Law
  • Sponsored by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
  • Service location Washington, District of Columbia
  • Law school The University of Michigan Law School
  • Issue area Children/Youth
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Taylor works to support District of Columbia youth experiencing homelessness in accessing an appropriate education by challenging school policies and practices that violate their rights under federal and local laws.

As a consequence of homelessness, students may face barriers to accessing their public school education, particularly in the world of remote learning. As a highly mobile group, students experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable to being among the group of students not currently enrolled or attending online classes, making them more likely to fall behind in their academics. Students experiencing homelessness are entitled to remain in their school and receive transportation services and needed academic supports, such as school uniforms, to ensure full and equal opportunity to succeed. Youth and their families need to be informed of their legal rights and provided with direct representation to ensure that they receive the educational opportunities they are owed in-person and through virtual instruction.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the first year of the Fellowship, Taylor has:

  • Partnered with Pillsbury to conduct a survey of the enrollment processes in D.C. public charter schools to identify potential barriers for students experiencing homelessness
  • Represented three students who faced challenges enforcing their school-based rights in IEP meetings
  • Conducted two virtual trainings on the education rights of students experiencing homelessness to attorneys and advocates working with children and youth in D.C., and five virtual presentations for the legal community
  • Developed outreach and educational materials

Next Steps

In the next six months, Taylor plans to:

  • Continue to represent families experiencing homelessness in advocating for educational rights
  • Explore common issues students experiencing homelessness face in school enrollment to inform potential litigation
  • Consult with families and community partners to develop model school policies and procedures that align with federal and state law and serve the unique needs of homeless youth
  • Train and partner with pro bono attorneys to pursue individual and systemic complaints

I know first-hand how economic hardship can affect a student in school. I was fortunate enough to have extended family that served as a safety net. I want to advocate for vulnerable children who do not have the same supports.

Taylor Jones /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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