Student Tribunal Project/Foster Child Representation
Georgia Appleseed’s Tribunal Student Project provides pro bono lawyers to foster children facing long-term suspension or expulsion. Under Georgia law, K-12 public school students faced with proposed out-of-school suspension of more than ten days, or with expulsion, are entitled to dispute the proposed disciplinary action at an administrative hearing often called a "tribunal." The statute provides basic due process protections including the right to representation by an attorney, and the opportunity to present witnesses and evidence. Given the impact a long-term suspension or expulsion may have on a student's academic success, it is essential to justice that the tribunal process provide meaningful due process to a student.
When Georgia Appleseed heard concerns expressed about the objectivity of presiding officers and lack of available qualified counsel to assist students, especially students in foster care, in the proceedings, our Young Professionals Council responded. The YPC created the Representing Students in School Tribunals in Georgia Attorney Training Manual to provide attorneys who are not experienced education lawyers with an understanding of the laws and procedures involved in a Georgia school tribunal hearing. It provides tools to navigate pro bono attorneys through the process of representing a student throughout the tribunal process.
This manual is an important resource for those advocating for children in tribunal hearings. It is geared toward lawyers representing the children and can be utilized by caseworkers and caregivers to understand and plan for the tribunal hearing.
Watch this video explaining our inspiration for representing foster children and to learn more: