Back to School
School Access - August Program Highlight
A child from Learning Rights' Downey Community Group showing off his new backpack and package of school supplies.
"For some of the (neuro)typical kids, it's a chance for them to realize that special education kids exist"

- Alicia Cortez, Learning Rights' Downey Community Group Leader
SCHOOL ACCESS: Beyond Education
"He usually doesn't like to interact with other autistic kids. This has been a chance for him to see other students and spend time with students with and without autism,'" Blanca told us late in the afternoon, after her son had spent the better part of a day running back and forth with other children from the Downey Community Group. They had come to the Community Group's "Dia en el Parque", a day of summer relaxation to celebrate the coming of another school year. Adding to the fun was a giveaway that Learning Rights had coordinated - over 70 backpacks and 40 sets of school supplies were waiting for the students, collected from law firms during Learning Rights' Raising the Bar for Education Challenge this past June.

Parents brought dishes of fruit, salads, and desserts to share, and the children played on the expansive playground of Dennis the Menace Park in Downey. A few even enjoyed playing with water guns; the occasional squirt was a welcome refreshment on such a hot August afternoon. The parents and children were here to celebrate a new school year, but the day meant more than that to many attendees.

"It lets us all connect - parents with other parents, and kids with other kids," Community Group leader Alicia Cortez told us. "For some of the (neuro)typical kids, it's a chance for them to realize that special education kids exist," she continued. Depending on their special education program, students with disabilities may not get the chance to interact with neurotypical students often, and vice versa.
Alicia's daughter Desiree choosing between a backpack covered in smiley faces and a backpack with a princess on it. She chose the princess.
To prevent students' differences from becoming a barrier to their education, Learning Rights created the School Access program. The program ensures that students with a variety of differences - be it a language barrier, different sexual orientation or gender identity, homelessness, or other physical or mental health need - all receive equal access to a public education. The School Access program provides legal consultations and advice for students who do not have adequate access to school-based services. In 2017, Learning Rights helped 261 students as part of the School Access program. While this program helps students overcome their differences inside the classroom, the Day in the Park served as an example of the Community Groups' power to change lives outside of school.

"I'm so happy. My son... he just told me, 'There's no differences, mom!'" Blanca continues as her son scrambles around the playground. He had just finished telling her how much he enjoyed playing with the other children. For students like Francisco, whose school day is often defined by the differences between him and neurotypical students, carefree afternoons are the perfect chance to break down barriers beyond education. A chance to play in the sun quickly becomes more than another summer day. It's a chance to open up, to make new friends, and to be confident in himself.

He picked out his school supplies on his own. "I want this one, because I need a calculator this year," he told me. He smiled proudly and held them up for the camera.
Blanca's son Francisco shows off his new pack of school supplies.
Thank you again to Winston & Strawn, Nixon Peabody, Morrison & Foerster, Akerman, Skadden, and King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano!

Attorneys from these five firms donated and collected hundreds of school supplies for our families! Their support was key to the wonderful event we had last week.
Stacy Nunez - TIGER Admin

" My favorite part about working at Learning Rights is that I get to meet and interact with the communities we serve. It's great being able to speak with parents, hear their thoughts and feelings on services and programs we offer, and in turn use their feedback to improve what we do."

We have published our 2017 Annual Report! The report is a snapshot of some of the work that we accomplished last year. We hope you enjoy reading about students like Camila, Valeria, Daryus and Destiny. We share their victories and hope that they inspire you to connect more deeply with us and our community. Together we can grow the movement for a just and sustainable future for disadvantaged students, one child at a time, until we give a voice to all invisible students .

How much does the average parent spend on school supplies?


Parents on average spent about $500 per child last year, according to a yearly  survey by Deloitte . That's up from $488 in 2016.
Stat sources: 
Learning Rights Law Center seeks to achieve education equity for low-income and disadvantaged students in the public education system in Southern California. We change the lives of at-risk students who have disabilities, face discrimination or are involved in the foster care or juvenile justice systems by providing free legal services, education advocacy, and community training.