January 26, 2021
Over the past year, we were fortunate to have Kelly Webber at the PJC as a paralegal through Episcopal Service Corps. Working with our Education Stability Project, she developed a social media campaign about school pushout, assisted students in challenging exclusionary discipline and school-based arrest, and contributed to legislative advocacy. Below are a few highlights from Kelly’s year at the PJC.
In her first few months, Kelly developed a social media campaign as part of the National Week of Action Against School Pushout. Through a series of posts on Facebook and Twitter, she shared infographics, articles, and know-your-rights information to educate the public on how suspension, expulsion, and school-based arrest push students out of school, disrupting their education and disproportionately harming students of color. The campaign also lifted up restorative approaches as effective alternatives for preventing and resolving conflicts and building positive school environments.
Kelly also provided valuable support to the Education Stability Project’s representation of students facing exclusionary discipline and school-based arrest. She staffed our intake phone line, listening to parents and students to see if we or one of our partners in the Maryland Suspension Representation Project could take their case. She also conducted case interviews and provided client support.
In addition to social media and client support, Kelly contributed to legislative advocacy to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. During the 2020 state legislative session, Kelly helped monitor education-related bills and drafted testimony. In particular, she helped write testimony opposing a bill that would have required parents to seek out and participate in counseling with their child if the child engages in “violent and disruptive behavior” at school and face criminal conviction if they fail to do so. While recognizing the benefits of counseling, the testimony argued that the bill was unlikely to be effective because it penalized parents instead of focusing on ensuring that schools provide free, voluntary counseling for students. Kelly also made meaningful contributions to the work of the Coalition to Reform School Discipline, including research and writing on positive discipline practices and school climate.
We’re thankful for all of Kelly’s contributions to the PJC and wish her the best as she pursues a master’s degree in library and information science at the University of Maryland.