The mission of the School Justice Project is to protect and enforce the special education rights of older students during incarceration and throughout reentry. As education attorneys, we provide direct representation and legal advocacy to court-involved youth ages 17-22 with special education needs to ensure they are afforded quality education and transition services. We envision a system wide overhaul that redefines the education landscape for these students. As the only organization of its kind, SJP aims to dismantle systemic barriers and force urban juvenile justice and school systems to address the unmet needs of this ignored population.
Claire Nilsen Blumenson, co-founder and co-executive director of the School Justice Project, has focused her career on the intersection of juvenile justice and education. As an Equal Justice Works Fellow, Claire worked as a special education attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), representing older youth (ages 18-22) committed to the custody of the DC’s juvenile justice agency and placed in its secure facility. Prior to working at PDS, Claire received her BA from Wesleyan University, where she majored in government, sociology, and psychology. After graduating, she joined Teach For America, teaching 3rd and 4th grade at Excellence Boys Charter School in Brooklyn, New York. In 2008, Claire enrolled in the University of Virginia School of Law, focusing her efforts on the link between academic failure and juvenile delinquency. Claire’s experiences during law school, including her Education Pioneers fellowship and the UVA Child Advocacy Clinic, laid the foundation for her Equal Justice Works fellowship.