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Emory Law News Center


Barton Clinic prevails in three-year effort to provide special education for jailed youth

The Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic and partners—Children’s Rights, Bondurant Mixson & Elmore, LLP, and Hecht Walker, P.C.,—prevailed in a 2019 court case that sought to provide special education services to disabled youths in the DeKalb County Jail, one of the largest in the country. The jail’s population is disproportionately Black—in Georgia, 32% of residents are Black, while Black people represent 51% of the jail population and 60% of the prison population.

“The court’s decision today sends a message to students in the jail I have been fighting to defend for over a decade: you are worthy of educating; we are not giving up on you,” said Randee Waldman, clinical professor of law, and the director of the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic at Emory University School of Law. “An education is a transformative experience that you deserve – and being in jail is no justification for denying you the chance for a successful life.”

The 11th Circuit held that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) entitles students with disabilities to special education within adult jails.

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