We defend the Bronx.

Education Defense Project

Education Defense Project

Our Education Defense Project (EDP) is a specialized team of attorneys and advocates that collaborate with our Immigration, Family, Civil and Criminal Defense practices when education issues affect the people we represent. For example, we provide advocacy for students with disabilities and their families navigating the special education process, including but not limited to advocacy during IEP (Individualized Educational Program) meetings, MDRs (Manifestation Determination Reviews), and support students and families explore appropriate educational placements. We advocate for students experiencing school discipline issues like suspension hearings, expulsion hearings, and other types of school pushout. Our individual client work as well as our policy and systemic advocacy combine to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. 

Incarcerated Youth 

The Education Defense Project provides comprehensive support to youth who are incarcerated. We work to ensure that the youth we represent are enrolled in school and can access education services while incarcerated. A major component of this advocacy for their rights to education and appropriate educational services is holding Rikers Island and detention facilities accountable for making sure they are brought to the school floor. 

Our advocacy also includes helping our clients look to the future and plan for school, graduation, and next steps after incarceration. We work closely with the legal team and our clients to identify legal strategies that keep students out of jail whenever possible.  Our goal is to help the children and young adults we work with get out and stay out of jail.  

Parents of Children with Special Needs 

For adult clients from our Immigration, Family Defense, and Civil Practices, we help them advocate for their children’s educational rights. For our Immigration Practice clients, we help obtain special education evaluations and IEPs for their children. For our Family Defense clients, we often act as a bridge between the parent and the school, and help parents transfer their children to new schools if necessary. We have also been successful in helping clients and their children reunite after stays in foster care with appropriate school services in place.  


Our Education Defense Project collaborates with other defender offices and nonprofit organizations, The Department of Education, city and state agencies, as well as other stakeholders, to protect and defend student’s educational rights. We participate and engage in coalitions that are actively working to end the school-to-prison pipeline and closely with our Impact Litigation and Policy teams to defend the rights of the youth and families we represent. Our policy work is entirely informed and driven by the experiences of our clients. 

Getting Legal Support 

In addition to the work we do with current clients, we also take a small number of suspension hearings cases from community members. If you or your child is facing a suspension hearing, and you are concerned that a criminal case may be filed in connection with it, please email us with the suspension hearing notice at education@bronxdefenders.org, or call the Bronx Defenders Reception line at 718-838-7878.