August 31, 2023

Back to School and Educational Advocacy

Our August 2023 Back to School Newsletter focuses on our educational advocacy work. The Center for Children’s Advocacy has been a fierce defender of educational rights and equity for vulnerable children around Connecticut, dating back to the seminal civil rights case Sheff V. O’Neill. Altogether, our work in educational advocacy includes protecting children with disabilities in schools, supporting medical providers and parents with key resources on children’s educational rights, bringing free, accessible legal information to students in their schools, and ensuring that homeless youth can attend school.


CCA’s Impact: Legal Services to Enforce Education Rights

Near & Far Aid created a moving short film, as shown above, documenting the story of CCA clients, Rosie and her son Dante. Rosie and Dante faced domestic violence, homelessness, and rejection from her family due to her son’s race. However, as a child with special needs, Dante was bullied in his school and struggled academically.

A CCA attorney fought for Dante and Rosie to have access to the appropriate learning environment. Enrolling in a new school with the staff and resources to support children with special needs gave Dante the urgent and critical support he needed. 

As an illustration of how important appropriate learning environments are, today Dante is thriving in his new school as a confident and well-performing student with friends and a school staff equipped to address his needs.

“I am eternally grateful to the Center for Children’s Advocacy. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be the family that we are today. We’re happy” said Dante’s Mom Rosie.

Bringing Legal Support to Youth In School

Instead of waiting for youth to come to us, our strategies include delivering legal support to youth by meeting them where they are.

CCA also provides free legal support to students through the Teen Legal Advocacy Clinic in Bridgeport’s Warren Harding High. A legal professional is embedded inside the school so students and school staff can build trusting relationships with our team.

We support students at Warren Harding High by answering questions regarding immigration, housing needs, DCF and foster care, violent relationships, and more.

CCA’s Advocacy Has National Impact  

CCA’s advocacy for children with diabetes has gone national, consequently uncovering disturbing national trends. Parents in multiple states were undeniably inspired by the Complaints CCA filed with the U.S. Department of Justice against four Connecticut school districts. These districts failed to provide appropriate oversight of children with diabetes, not to mention refusing to follow a simple internet-based Continuous Glucose Monitor, which follows the child’s blood sugar levels.

The CCA Complaints resulted in the school districts agreeing to provide appropriate oversight of children with diabetes, and consequently. These results have generated a movement of parents in school districts in over 40 states who are reporting that their schools are also refusing to provide any oversight of their children’s diabetes and/or comply with physicians’ orders’ to follow a Continuous Glucose Monitor.

Surprisingly, the schools’ refusal to accommodate their children has resulted in parents being told that the children, some as young as 4 years old and including children with special needs, have to oversee their own diabetes care. CCA Attorney Bonnie Roswig sees this current wave of actions by schools as a violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and has reached out to the Department of Justice once again. For more information, contact Bonnie Roswig at    

Confronting School Bullying 

In order to help parents and children prepare for back-to-school, CCA collaborated with a Hartford healthcare agency to provide training for parents and children on school bullying. The training provided an overview of school bullying laws and an explanation of how parents can advocate for their children’s rights to be safe from bullying. For more information about CCA’s bullying training for parents or professionals, contact The bullying training can be modified to meet the needs of different audiences. 

Systemic Educational Advocacy

One Year After the Sheff V. O’Neill Settlement

CCA Executive Director and Lead Attorney, Martha Stone, provided a critical update on what has happened since last year’s Sheff V. O’Neill settlement on the WSHU Public Radio podcast.

The landmark civil rights lawsuit, Sheff V. O’Neill, settled in 2022 after over 30 years of litigation. The plaintiffs advocated for the State of Connecticut to uphold the constitutional rights for equal education for children in Hartford. In this new settlement, the state promises to increase access to magnet and suburban schools for Hartford students. 

“There are definite improvements, but one barrier we’re still facing is the reluctance of suburban districts to open up their seats, particularly in non-entry grades,” said Martha Stone. 

How Communities Can Take Action Regarding Affirmative Action

CCA Attorney and Director of the Racial Justice Project Karrol-Ann Brown participated in the Annual Summer Symposium of the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO). The symposium covered the impact of the recent Supreme Court decision to eliminate affirmative action in college admissions. The panelists also discussed ways community members can take action to ensure minority students have access to equal educational opportunities

“Affirmative action helps promote diversity which is essential to learning and developing. It helps to reduce socioeconomic restraints, that would otherwise impede one’s ability to be in a better school system or university,” said Karrol-Ann Brown.

You can hear more of Karrol-Ann discussing the impact of this policy change at 41:00.

CCA in the Community

Back to School Resource Fair with Hartford HealthCare

The CCA Hartford team joined the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Institute of Living for a Back to School Resource Fair.

CCA’s Senior Paralegal Tiffany Minakhom connected with families and provided key information about children’s rights in schools including information about parent advocacy, protecting children with developmental disabilities, and special education. For more information, contact Tiffany Minakhom at

Supporting Our Youth’s Needs

Two youths involved with CCA were preparing for the new school year and football season. Football gear is expensive, so CCA supporters acted quickly to provide the youth with new gear for the new school year and football season. We’ll be cheering them on from the sidelines!

CCA Spotlights

Welcome to the Team: Alanna Herskowitz

Alanna is the paralegal for the Racial Justice and Educational Success Projects. Additionally, she provides support at Racial and Ethnic Disparities (RED) Reduction meetings across Connecticut and is the liaison for the CCA Teen Legal Advocacy Clinic at Warren Harding High School. She obtained her B.S. in Criminal Justice in 2020 and her MPA in 2021 from the University of New Haven. Alanna aspires to go to law school and continue to use her work to bring about meaningful change.

CCA Board Member Recognized by Lawyers of Color

Lawyers of Color (LoC) recognized CCA Board Member, Ginny Kim, as a 2023 “Wonderful Women Honoree.”

Ginny was honored as one of many dynamic women attorneys working in law firms, companies, and government agencies across the U.S. who demonstrate a strong commitment to advancing diversity in the legal profession. Visit the LoC website to see a full list of honorees.

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