Atlanta Principal Utilizes Volunteer Attorneys to Keep Kids in School

CBS news story describes a volunteer attorney program aiding parents in low income housing by addressing wrongful evictions and deplorable conditions.

Last year 20 evictions from 81 cases were stopped. Turnover dropped from 40% to 25% in one year.  Standardized test scores rose 50% in one year. Students were attending school and becoming “Students of the Month”!

Nicole Evans Jones, new principal of Thomasville Heights Elementary in Atlanta, addressed school attendance and performance issues by seeking the help of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, headed by Michael Lewis. The school was often listed as the “worst school in Georgia” and averaged 40% turnover each year.

Volunteer attorneys provided free services in the school office to support the parents having serious, unresolved issues with their landlords. One parent shared how her kids were sick from the mold and conditions that were not addressed and had existed for a year. With these attorneys’ help, “a whole SWAT team came in and fixed everything in one day.

Perhaps more communities could use this strategy to help students attend and stay in a school.