August 2020: Back to School Issue
Updated School Disciplinary Data: Keeping Kids in Class

Out-of-school suspension, what we sometimes call "exclusionary discipline," has an undeniable effect on educational outcomes for Georgia's children and youth. Long-term absences from class increase a student's risk of dropping out before obtaining a high school degree and of being involved in the juvenile justice system.

What's more, this kind of discipline disproportionately affects certain groups of students, including Black students, students with disabilities, and those from families living on a low-income.

For the past eight years, since the publication of Effective School Discipline: Keeping Kids in Class, Georgia Appleseed has been making out-of-school suspension data available on our website, so that it is easily searchable by school, district, and demographic information. Our hope is that it will serve as a tool for educational professionals, parents, and caregivers, who want to start conversations with their schools about how our children and youth are disciplined.

2020 Voter Guide: What You Need to Know to Cast Your Ballot This November

With an important election coming up, Georgia Appleseed pro bono volunteers put together this 2020 How to Vote Guide. The guide includes information about voter rights, instructions about registering and voting, and dozens of links to help people find the information they need to successfully vote this November.

KyMara Guidry Joins Georgia Appleseed as 2020-2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

In her own words, KyMara T. Guidry is "a legal storyteller, weaving the real stories and experiences of marginalized communities" into her advocacy.

A May 2020 law school graduate, KyMara joined Georgia Appleseed as an intern in January 2020 with a focus on school-based behavioral health. This summer, she continued working as a Georgia Appleseed Angela Royal Summer Fellow.

We are now thrilled to announce that KyMara will join Georgia Appleseed for another two years of fighting for Georgia's children, this time through an Equal Justice Works Fellowship generously sponsored by Troutman Pepper and Southern Company. Equal Justice Works mobilizes lawyers across the country to address unmet legal needs to ensure equal access to justice for underserved communities. As part of her EJW project, KyMara will focus on LGBTQIA youth as she helps legal advocacy available to Georgia youth in foster care.

Reopening Schools & Reengaging Students Webinar Series

With the reopening of schools, the usual back-to-school jitters have been replaced by deep concern and fear about how to keep our children safe while ensuring they receive needed resources and educational support.

In recognition of these turbulent times, Georgia Appleseed and Truancy Intervention Project joined forces to offer a three-part series of webinars to provide resources, answer questions, and explore opportunities as students returned to school both virtually and in-person.

On July 23, 2020, hundreds of people joined us for Reopening Schools and Reengaging Students: A Community Town Hall via Zoom and Facebook live. A week later, the series turned its attention to school discipline with Advocating for Georgia's Children: Alternatives to Exclusionary School Discipline. You can view recordings of these webinars on our website.

The third in this series, Deepening Engagement: Keeping Kids in School During a Pandemic, will be held September 10, 2020, at 6:00 p.m.  

Pictured above, panelists for Reopening Schools and Reengaging Students: A Community Town Hall, left to right: Lashawnda Woods-Roberts, Georgia Appleseed; Caroline Durham, Georgia Appleseed, Sarah Babcock, Truancy Intervention Project; Ray Bettendorf, The Bettendorf Firm; Kamala Buchanan, Georgia Legal Services Program; Katie Landes, Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network; Jewell Gooding, Mental Health of America Georgia; Maribel Bell, Fulton County Schools
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Upcoming Webinars: Keeping Kids in School (September 10) and Promoting Positive School Culture (September 10)

Join us on September 10, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. for Deepening Engagement: Keeping Kids in School during a Pandemic, the final webinar in the Reopening Schools and Reengaging Students series. Geared toward parents, educators, and all stakeholders in children’s education, experts will reflect on the first month back in school, address barriers to equitable school climates, and propose solutions to keep kids in school and engaged during this pandemic and beyond. Register here.

Earlier on the same day at 1:30 p.m. join the Georgia Department of Education for a webinar on ideas and recommendations about promoting a positive school culture during this uncertain time. Register here for Maintain A Positive School Culture & Climate Amongst the Shifts for SY 2020-2021.
Welcome, Marc Taylor and DaShana Jelks.

Georgia Appleseed welcomes two great additions to our team:

Marc Taylor of Taylor English Duma LLP joined the Board of Directors in July. In his law practice, Marc represents management in corporate leadership, litigation and risk mitigation, and labor and employment relationships. A founding partner of the firm, he helped drive the growth of Taylor English from four lawyers to approximately 175 lawyers, making the firm the fastest-growing law firm in Georgia and one of the fastest-growing firms in the country. We are grateful to have Marc's expertise on the board and for the continued generosity of Taylor English Duma LLP, which provides office space and other in-kind support to Georgia Appleseed.

DaShana Jelks joined our staff in July as the Office Manager and Bookkeeper. With more than 28 years of experience in public, nonprofit, and government accounting, DaShana most recently served as the Director of Finance for Grady Health Foundation. Her wealth of experience and passion for supporting children and families will be a tremendous asset to our team.
Race, Law Enforcement and the Law Initiative: The Work Continues

In response to the recent murder of Black men and women by police officers, Georgia Appleseed and its pro bono partners are reviewing our 2016 recommendations and report on police violence against communities of color. Updating these recommendations will help us support the current movement to change our law enforcement system with best practices, transparency, and healthier community engagement. To learn more about our Race, Law Enforcement, and the Law Initiative, please visit our website.
 
We thank the many pro bono volunteers engaged in this work, including those from the following firms: King & Spalding, Alston Bird, Nelson Mullins, and Akin Gump.
Healthy Housing Work Focuses on Eviction Response by Courts Statewide

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated historic levels of unemployment and economic distress. Tenants are increasingly unable to pay rent, and Georgia’s courts are preparing for a tidal wave of evictions. Unfortunately, Georgia’s governor, legislature, and supreme court have not declared a moratorium on eviction filings. Across Georgia, local county courts have enacted a patchwork of responses, including postponing all hearings, but they are under increasing pressure to deal with a large backlog of eviction filings and new eviction actions.

Georgia Appleseed, with our pro bono partners, is again surveying the courts to understand the significant and effective strategies courts are creating. Our previous survey results from May--at the beginning of the pandemic--are available at the Center for Access to Justice at Georgia State University College of Law website. With the new survey results, Georgia Appleseed and local communities will be able to develop innovative ways that community organizations, federal dollars, and courts can engage to maintain healthy housing for Georgians. 
Thank you, Summer Interns!

This summer two teams of interns are providing critical support for our Healthy Housing and Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline initiatives, including:
  • Compiling detailed data and beginning analysis of the interconnectedness between school discipline rates, race, socioeconomic status, and integration of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) practices in Georgia school districts;
  • Mapping healthy housing coalition best practices through research of healthy housing organizations nationwide; and
  • Researching School-Justice Partnerships and School Climate Committees throughout the state.
 
Thank you to the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory Law School and the Harvard Law School Systems Summer Institute for making this work possible. Thank you also to the following lawyers-in-training for their hard work: Brittany Ewing (GSU College of Law), Kyla Howard (New England School of Law), Yiyang Mei (Emory Law School), Victoria Miller (Emory Law School), Joseph Pinto (Emory Law School), Christian Shaheen (GSU College of Law), and Katharine Healy Tabachnick (Emory Law School).
 
Pictured above: Image from an intern presentation on healthy housing issues.
Additional Resources

In recognition of the incredible impact COVID-19 is having on our lives and throughout our communities, we are continuing to share resources on our social media channels and our website. Below are a handful of resource lists gathered by trusted partners, which we hope will help connect people to the resources they need at this time:

  • GECC— Visit our Georgia Education Climate Coalition (GECC) page for information about partner organization's upcoming webinars and trainings.
  • 211—Calling 211 or searching the website can help you find food, pay housing bills, access childcare, and more.
  • Atlanta Legal Aid—This resource list includes information about court closings, emergency food help, and more.
  • Georgia Department of Education—This DOE site includes links to school closure information and online learning resources.
  • Voices for Georgia’s Children—Voices has put together a robust list of news and resources around COVID-19, including financial resources, food assistance, closures, guidance on talking to children about the pandemic, and more.
  • Children's Healthcare of Atlanta—CHOA's Strong4Life resource page provides parenting guidance for the COVID-19 era, including how to talk about social distancing with kids, avoiding injuries during isolation, and much more.

We'd also like to share additional links that are helping us think about justice-related issues of the day:

Georgia Appleseed Needs Your Support

At Georgia Appleseed, we focus on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline and advocating for healthy housing because we believe these areas are powerful leverage points for meaningful, systemic change.

If you would like to join us in creating systemic change, please make a donation today.
 
If you are interested in volunteering with us, please fill out our Pro Bono Interest Form