Education Rights Counsel was created from a desire to make education better for students and families by equalizing access to legal advocacy.
Our programs create systemic change for Nebraska schools and families. We equalize access to legal representation for under-resourced families who need special education support or are facing student discipline charges. We partner with other organizations to educate and engage our entire Nebraska community.
By establishing a non-profit with very specific education expertise, Education Rights Counsel provides a unique service to a significant community of under-served children.
Access to public K-12 education is a constitutional right, and the laws governing educational access are nuanced, layered and complex. The parent or child who fails to accurately and adequately understand the law is far more likely to go without services s/he is guaranteed, or be removed from the school setting despite a lack of evidence that legal requirements have been met.
There is an access to justice gap in Nebraska, with nearly 47% of all students in low-income families. More than half of all Nebraska children verified with special needs were students in poverty. Nebraska has a higher rate of suspensions and expulsions than average across the Unites states (for example, over 14,000 students were suspended or expelled in the 2015/1 school year).
Communication difficulties between families and schools are exacerbated when parents come from disadvantaged backgrounds and do not have the resources to speak confidently about what they think is best for their child. When legal rights are at stake, our purpose of assuring there is no power imbalance between families and schools is critical to equitable outcomes.