E-Alerts & Press Releases

PJC Tips for Enrolling Withdrawn Students in School Now to be Used by 24 School Districts

11,182 Maryland high schools students were withdrawn (voluntarily or involuntarily) from high school during the 2004-2005 school year.  Some of these students are youth in state-supervised care (in foster care or under the jurisdiction of the Department of Juvenile Services) who experience a gap in school enrollment.  Perhaps an adult on their case neglected to fill out all the proper paperwork when a housing placement was changed, necessitating a change of schools, or perhaps the kid ran away for awhile and stopped attending school.  In any event, many of these kids want a second chance and try to return to school.  Judges and child advocates have been finding that it can be difficult or close to impossible to reconnect these kids with the public schools after they are recorded as having "withdrawn."  This is at least partly because some school administrators seem to think that their obligation to provide an education to a youth ends when the youth reaches age 16.  Maryland law requires the public schools to educate all children and youth up to age 20, or until they graduate from high school, whichever comes first.

Maryland's Pro Bono Resources Center started a project - The Children's Education Project - to try to address this issue.  They plan to recruit and train private attorneys to act as advocates for these kids to help them return to school.  PBRC asked the Public Justice Center to provide research and technical support for the Project.  Staff of the PJC's Foster Children's Education Project agreed.  We researched and wrote a memo on the law applicable to the issue, submitted several Public Information Act requests to local school districts to try to ascertain the magnitude of the problem, conducted a training at a statewide conference, and drafted advocacy tip sheets for use by pro bono counsel.  The Maryland State Department of Education distributed the tip sheet, along with a reminder of the importance of expeditiously re-enrolling these students, to the Directors of Student Services of all 24 local Maryland school districts.

The above example illustrates the PJC's high impact but often behind-the-scenes work using multiple strategies.

Read a generic version of the tips here.

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