Civil Legal Services Division

Members of the Civil Legal Services Division, November 2019The Civil Legal Services Division (CLS) provides legal representation to clients in a wide range of civil matters that are collateral or ancillary to the clients’ involvement in the delinquency or criminal justice system, or that involve a restraint on liberty (e.g., certain contempt proceedings).  The types of collateral and ancillary civil issues these clients face are complex and almost limitless in number (adverse immigration consequences, loss of parental rights, loss of housing, seizure of property, loss of employment) and can arise even if the person is acquitted of the criminal charges or has been only arrested and never charged.  

A major component of CLS’s diverse civil practice is special education advocacy by CLS attorneys with expertise under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, which mandates special accommodations in public schools for children who cannot be educated adequately in a traditional classroom setting due to learning disabilities or other physical or intellectual challenges. Special education advocacy is a cornerstone of CLS’s civil practice because of the vital importance of education and the pressing special educational needs of many court-involved youth. 

PDS’s special education advocacy includes regulatory and legislative advocacy to advance the rights of  youth with disabilities who are involved in the criminal or juvenile legal systems. In October of 2021 PDS’s special education attorneys submitted comments and made recommendations to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education concerning proposed amendments to Chapter 30 of Title 5-A in the District of Columbia Municipal that governing the education of students with disabilities.

Highlights Of PDS’s October 2021 Comments On D.C’s Proposed Special Education Regulations:

  • Ensuring the regulations contain a comprehensive statement that all eligible children with disabilities regardless of their custodial status and regardless of which District agency is charged with assuming control of the custody and welfare of the child are entitled to special education services and the local educational agency is responsible for providing FAPE.   
  • Strengthening procedures to ensure youth with disabilities who are involved in the criminal or juvenile legal systems get timely and effective instruction.
  • Strengthening the procedural protections of parents of youth with disabilities who are involved in the criminal or juvenile legal systems.
  • Providing greater hearing rights to parents and students in administrative due process hearings.

Click here to read the complete comments. 

Also available is the special education attorney practice flyer and information about the summer clerkship program with the special education attorneys.

All of CLS’s legal work is done in close collaboration with PDS’s other divisions to identify clients’ civil legal needs and to provide effective representation to address and resolve clients’ civil legal problems.