OCTOBER 2016 | Washington Lawyers' Committee eNewsletter
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Dear Friend of the Washington Lawyers' Committee,

As students return to school this fall, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee is renewing its commitment to ensuring that there is equality of opportunity for all students. 
 
Strong reminders of the legacy of racial segregation in education has been in the news a lot recently. We have read with great sadness about the defacing of the historic Ashburn Colored School in Loudon County, and watched the Vice Presidential debates in Farmville, Virginia, the site of mass resistance to integration in the 1950’s and 1960’s. But what have been less reported are the current consequences of that legacy in a persistent achievement gap and with far too many students of color expelled and suspended from school.
 
Through our school partnership program and legal advocacy, we are working to make a difference in overcoming that legacy. Read below about our new Parent Engagement and Academic Enrichment Program and the brief we filed to ensure that neighborhood schools receive the funding they need for students to succeed.

Jon Smith
Executive Director, Washington Lawyers' Committee

http://www.flickr.com/photos/smileymanwithahat/2463380221/
Amicus Brief Filed on Behalf of DC Parents and Education Advocates in a DC School Funding Case
The Committee’s Education Project, with Lewis Baach, LLP, filed an amicus brief on behalf of local DC education organizations, advocates and parents throughout every Ward in a school funding case brought by The DC Association of Chartered Schools. The lawsuit attacks the authority of the DC Council to make equitable adjustments for the benefit of all public school students to the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula under the School Reform Act of 1995 by Congress.
Punished for Questioning an Illegal Stop
Amanda Voisard/For The Washington Post
One day in March 2014, Allan Sergeant, was innocently driving when a police officer stopped him in the parking lot of a CVS. After Mr. Sergeant questioned why he was stopped, the officer demanded Mr. Sergeant exit his car and then publicly strip-searched him—pulling down his pants and underwear, fully exposing him in front of the CVS. Mr. Sergeant protested the unexplained stop and search. And when he stated that he was going to file a complaint, he was detained again and forced to sign a written warning under threat of a ticket or arrest.

Mr. Sergeant is bringing a lawsuit challenging his mistreatment and the warning issued after he spoke up. In August, a Maryland federal court decided that his First Amendment retaliation claim may proceed. This ruling is important not just for Mr. Sergeant, but also because it affirms the First Amendment right to speak out against injustice without fear of retribution. View the decision here.
Staff Spotlight:
Renee
There’s a good chance you know Renee Brandon. For the past 14 years, Renee has been the first point of contact for WLC’s clients, co-counsel, interns, and staff. When you step off the elevator into WLC’s office, Renee is probably the first person you will see. She’s the one who regularly answers your phone call. She makes sure our office functions every day.
 
But Renee means even more to us here at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee.
Working for Transgendered Prisoners
“Before Deb [Golden] no one listened, explains Ms. Sidney while discussing the dehumanizing treatment she endured as an inmate at the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Ms. Sidney is a Black transgender woman who served the majority of her prison sentence in a male federal prison. Ms. Sidney was a daily target of abuse and neglect by staff and other prisoners.

Unfortunately, Ms. Sidney’s mistreatment and abuse are far too common.
The Committee's Public Education Project Receives $215,000 Grant from The Morrison & Foerster Foundation
We're pleased to announce The Morrison & Foerster Foundation has awarded a $215,000 grant to the Committee to expand the Education Project's Parent Engagement and Academic Enrichment Program over the next two years.
Fight Injustice & Inequality with WLC: Volunteer and Pro Bono Opportunities
DO NOT RESIST Film Screening and Q&A
Using footage shot over two years in 11 states, The Tribeca Film Festival winner for Best Documentary Feature DO NOT RESIST reveals a rare into the increasingly disturbing realities of American police culture. On October 16th, the Committee held a screening and discussion at the AFI Silver Theater with a panel of criminal justice experts, including Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post. Learn more about the film here.
More October and September News

Jonathan Smith testified in support of Bill 21-0879, the Expanding Access to Justice Act of 2016.

Legal Fight Over Brookland Manor Redevelopment Intensifies

Jonathan Smith participated in two panels, one with National Association Against Police Brutality and another with the Washington Council of Lawyers on voting rights.

The Committee signed an open letter arguing that many DC offenders serving parole sentences have languished behind bars for significantly longer than intended.

Rhonda Cunningham Holmes elected Co-Chair of DC Consortium of Legal Services Providers

Durbin, Coons, Democratic Senators Introduce Bill to Limit Use of Solitary Confinement


Brook Hill, Equal Justice Works Fellow, testified on behalf of the Committee before the Board of Commissioners of the DC Housing Authority.

Louisiana corrections department accused of not providing interpreters for hard of hearing probationers and parolees

Catherine Cone discussed Brookland Manor fair housing lawsuit on WPFW
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