School Discipline Advocacy Service, a Temple Law student initiative working in partnership with the Education Law Center, has won funding support from the American College of Trial Lawyers through a grant awarded to ELC. The grant was one of two awarded nationwide by ACTL in support of “programs that strive to provide needed legal assistance to unrepresented persons …. and offer the potential for growth and replication in other locations.”
SDAS began in 2011 in response to the growing number of suspensions, expulsions and arrests of Philadelphia area public school students, especially poor African-Americans and Hispanics, stemming from the zero discipline tolerance policy enacted in 2008 by the then-Philadelphia Superintendent of Schools. Born out of the need to assist those in the Philadelphia public schools with no one else to help them in regard to school disciplinary matters, the ELC has established a quick response process to these school proceedings by using Temple University Law School students and ELC staff attorneys to provide immediate legal assistance to unrepresented minor students. According to ELC, “The students and families we represent have no other advocates in their corner, yet the stakes for these children are high.”
The American College of Trial Lawyers is composed of the best of the trial bar from Canada and the United States and is widely considered to be the premier professional trial organization in North America. Founded in 1950, the College is dedicated to maintaining and improving the standards of trial practice, the administration of justice and the ethics of the profession. Fellowship in the College is extended by invitation only, and after careful investigation, to those experienced trial lawyers who have mastered the art of advocacy and whose professional careers have been marked by the highest standards of ethical conduct, professionalism, civility, and collegiality.