Schools First

The Schools First project works to ensure that young people in New Orleans are given the supports and educational opportunities that they need to learn.

Research has shown that education is one of the strongest buffers against involvement in the justice system. Yet, if a student has been suspended even once by ninth grade, he or she is twice as likely to drop out.

Schools First helps schools and educational programs provide the necessary services and supports for all students – including those who exhibit challenging behaviors or who have been in the juvenile justice system – to help keep children in school and on track with their education.

We do this by providing direct educational advocacy for students who need help from schools in addressing special education needs and behavioral difficulties. Our Youth Advocates and Stand Up For Each Other (SUFEO) law school students advocate for students on special education services, records access and transfer, and in disciplinary proceedings.

Through Schools First, we also provide training and technical assistance to educators, parents and community members to improve school climate and discipline policies and minimize the use of suspensions, expulsions and referrals to juvenile court.

Schools First is currently in the process of developing a school climate measurement tool to assist schools in understanding, tracking and implementing best practices in school safety and positive school climate.