November 04, 2011
Under the guidance of the Law School’s
Child Advocacy Clinic, law students Courtney Morgan, '13, Jason
Swinburne ’13 and Joseph Torda ’13 recently experienced the great
rewards and sizeable challenges of representing a child in a
proceeding against the Commissioner of Education.
Due to difficult family circumstances, their client ―a 10-year-old
boy known as T.W.― had moved from his father’s home in South
Carolina to live with his paternal aunt, K.J., in New York. When
K.J. tried to enroll T.W. in the local public elementary school, he
was denied admission for being a non-resident of the school
The Child Advocacy Clinic’s Professor
Jennifer Baum and Supervising Attorney
Teresa J. Grogan stepped in to help K.J. prepare an
administrative appeal of the residency determination. They also
sought temporary school admission for T.W. pending the appeal’s
disposition on the merits. However, the Commissioner of Education
denied temporary school attendance based on improper service,
despite evidence and supporting law to the contrary.
The Clinic students and their advisors pursued Article 78 relief to
obtain a Temporary Restraining Order against the Commissioner of
Education and the school district, seeking T.W.’s immediate
enrollment in school for the duration of the Article 78
proceeding. Finding that the school district's actions appeared
improper, the Article 78 court signed an Order to Show Cause. T.W.
started school four weeks later under court
“I’m very happy with the outcome,” K.J. said. “The school
officials said that most students do not get in from the appeal
process and this could be a gateway for future children to be
enrolled in school.” T.W., who was very eager to be a student
again, said: "I am happy to be in school and would like to thank
everyone who helped."
“It feels good to represent someone very deserving of an education,
who otherwise would not be able to navigate the system alone."
Jason Swinburne said. "I strongly feel that the work we did in this
case is what the legal profession is all about ― helping those in
need and assisting the public as best we can."