Teresita Ramos

  • Hosted by Disability Law Center
  • Sponsored by Equal Justice Works Text-to-Give
  • Service location Boston, Massachusetts
  • Law school Boston College Law School
  • Issue area Disability Rights, Education/Special Education
  • Fellowship class year 2014
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Lawrence Public Schools is among the poorest school districts in the state of Massachusetts, with 86 percent of students coming from low-income families. The district is composed of 90 percent Hispanic families, mostly of Puerto Rican and Dominican origin, and half of all students are English language learners (ELL). Twenty-five percent of all students receive special education services.

In the fall of 2011, Lawrence became the first district in the state to be declared a failing school system and placed into receivership. Though the district’s turnaround plan sought to address numerous shortcomings within the system, special education students, especially those with dual special education and ELL eligibility, continued to receive little attention.

When Teresita became a Fellow, Lawrence had no legal services organizations providing special education services. As a result, families with special needs children, especially low-income immigrant families, face extreme challenges in asserting their right to special education services. As an immigrant mother of a child with autism Teresita knew this firsthand, and had seen the “night and day” difference that occurred when her daughter was placed in a private school with appropriate services and attention. After working directly with other local immigrant families in similar situations, Teresita decided to attend law school in pursuit of greater systemic change.

What’s Next

Throughout her career, Teresita has helped thousands of families, including as the Executive Director of Special Education Services, which she founded in 2009. In addition to chairing the Advocates for Autism Massachusetts Children’s Rights Committee and co-chairing the Massachusetts Department of Education’s Special Education Advisory Committee, she also serves on the board of the Federation for Children with Special Needs, as an appointee of Governor Deval Patrick on the MA Board of Registration of Social Workers, and as an active member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates. She is currently an education, Social Security disability, and civil rights lawyer at Ramos Law LLC, where she provides legal representation and services to low- and middle-income families through a sliding-scale payment structure.

Media

Trying Personal Experience Inspires Ramos ’14 to Help Others

Latino Parents: Holyoke Schools' Translation Efforts Are Inadequate

U.S. probes adequacy of interpretation services in Lawrence, Braintree schools

I had a mission from day one: I wanted to become the best disability rights attorney that I could be.

Teresita Ramos /
Equal Justice Works

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