Youth, Education and Justice: Legal Theory and Practice

Fall Semester (six credits)

Spring Semester (six credits)

Student-attorneys in the Youth, Education and Justice LTP examine the different entry points for children into the juvenile and criminal justice systems, with particular emphases on the impact of policing practices on Baltimore’s youth and the connections between school disciplinary practices, law enforcement practices, and the juvenile/criminal justice systems. With an overall focus on the “school-to-prison pipeline,” this LTP explores and analyzes several issues of critical importance, including:

  • law enforcement interactions with children
  • law enforcement presence in public schools
  • fourth amendment issues in public schools
  • all types of school exclusion, including out-of-school suspension, expulsion, and other forms of school pushout
  • the impact of school pushout on schoolchildren, their families, and their communities
  • the disproportionate impact of these laws, policies, and practices on schoolchildren of color (particularly Black and Lantix schoolchildren, and Black girls) as well as schoolchildren with disabilities

Student-attorneys assume a community lawyering role. Community lawyering involves individual representation, public education, and reform-focused advocacy. The client representation entails opposite ends of the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

  • On one end, student-attorneys represent children in Maryland who have been excluded from school through suspension, expulsion, and other forms of school pushout. The Youth, Education, and Justice LTP is a partner with the Maryland Suspension Representation Project (MSRP). The MSRP involves lawyers from the Public Justice Center, the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, and Disability Rights Maryland, who are committed to expanding and enhancing the representation of children removed from school for disciplinary reasons. Student-attorneys will represent children who have been removed for these reasons. The representation involves oral and written advocacy.
  • On the other end, student-attorneys represent incarcerated adults who have been in prison for decades, sentenced to life for crimes they committed when they were children. Because of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, these “juvenile lifers” are eligible to apply for parole. Student-attorneys represent clients in the parole process.

To round out the community lawyering role, student-attorneys also educate community members and other stakeholders about the due process rights afforded to schoolchildren who face exclusionary discipline and work on policy and legislative advocacy projects that aim to keep children in school and away from the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

We also focus much attention on the ongoing efforts to reform Baltimore’s Police Department (BPD) in light of the Consent Decree that the BPD, the City of Baltimore, and the U.S. Department of Justice entered into in April 2017. We will continue to engage those aspects of the Consent Decree focused on improving the relationships between the BPD and Baltimore’s children.

At every turn we explore issues of race, gender, and poverty (as departure points from school, and as entry points to the juvenile and criminal justice systems), trauma and stigma (as both entry points to the juvenile and criminal justice systems and as end points of justice-involvement), and lawyering strategies aimed at keeping children in school and away from the juvenile/criminal justice systems.

Because the LTP assumes a community lawyering model, some aspects of our work will unfold as the semester approaches and progresses. Part of a community lawyer’s role is to respond to emerging events that cannot be predicted in advance. We will do the same.

This LTP includes a seminar component that meets twice weekly.

Key to Codes in Course Descriptions
P: Prerequisite
C: Prerequisite or Concurrent Requirement
R: Recommended Prior or Concurrent Course