Pro Bono Program Provides DCF Children With Lawyers

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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Ernie Teitell
Ernie Teitell

Teitell said often children in need of special ed services don't get the help because there is "no resistance from the parents. We're hoping to change that by representing them for free."

Teitell said that many DCF children live in poorer school districts like Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven.

"Some cases are expulsion cases where we felt that a child is unfairly being expelled or not getting services during an expulsion," Teitell said.

Teitell estimates they have helped about 50 students in the last several months since launching the program.

"What we are trying to do is represent these kids who have no other voice, get the same services that other kids with resources get," Teitell said. "A lot of the kids under DCF [supervision] don't have resources, don't have the advocate."

"Obviously, without somebody speaking up for them, their educational needs might not be met. Hence the need to do this," Teitell said.

"Here you are representing kids on a very important right, education."

Teitell said that once need was identified, "it was easy to get involved and put together a program."

So far about 30 experienced lawyers throughout the state are helping out.

Teitell said the lawyers who are participating in the effort run the gamut from defense lawyers, plaintiffs' lawyers, arbitrators and judges. "It's across the board," Teitell said. "The exciting part is the diversity of the lawyers."

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