Children & Education

The mission and tradition of the Children’s Rights Unit of Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida is to provide equal access and opportunity to all children in the State of Florida, especially those systemically discriminated against by virtue of disability, racial, ethnic, or socio-economic status.  To fulfill the mission of ending discrimination against Florida’s most vulnerable citizens, the Children’s Rights Unit will engage in widespread advocacy including litigation, collaboration, education and community activism.

Under state and federal law, every child aged 3 to 22 with a disability has a right to a free and appropriate public education.

Does your child…

  • Learn differently than other children?
  • Speak differently than other children?
  • Need a lot of attention?
  • Act bored or lazy?
  • Break rules and not listen to you or the teachers?
  • Learn slowly?
  • Walk or move in a clumsy way?

Has your child been…

  • Been suspended or expelled?
  • Been restrained?
  • Been Bullied?
  • Been diagnosed with a disability?
  • Been retained?
  • Failed State tests?
  • Had behavior problems at school?
  • Had mental health/medical issues such as ADHD, HIV/AIDS, Mood Disorder or other chronic health disorders?
  • Had problems with vision or hearing?
  • Held back/not promoted for any reason?

Some Services Your Child May Need:

  • Educational Evaluations
  • Behavior Support
  • Speech/Language Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Counseling
  • Special Transportation
  • Assistive Technology
  • Vocational Training
  • Tutoring
  • Special Services and Accommodations
  • Pre-Kindergarten Services
  • Expungement of Misdemeanor Juvenile Records

Special Education law requires that a parent or relative of a child with disabilities has the opportunity to be involved in the education of that child. Under special education law, schools and school districts are responsible for identifying children with suspected disabilities, evaluating their needs to determine if they need special education services, providing children eligible for special education services with the least restrictive environment/educational placement and providing a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to children with disabilities.

Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, Inc. (CLSMF) represents parents with children with who struggle in school, home and the community, including those with disabilities who have been denied an appropriate education.

When a disagreement with a school arises, the dispute can often be worked out easily.  Sometimes, however, an experienced advocate is necessary.

CLSMF advises parents and children about their legal rights concerning education. We will assist parents in  obtaining needed educational services and testing, we will mediate disputes, and, if necessary, litigate the issues.

If you think that your child has been denied the education that he or she deserves, contact our Children’s Rights Unit at (386) 361-5254.

9 Investigates: Volusia County parents up in arms, say autistic children treated like criminals

CLSMF Children’s Rights Unit reached out to WFTV Channel 9 to share a disturbing trend we have encountered in our Volusia County school system where children with disabilities are being handed over to law enforcement instead of implementing and following learning plans especially designed for these students. This trend is a classic example of the school to prison pipeline, a critical issue affecting the future of thousands of children nationwide – an issue the CLSMF Children’s Rights Unit fights everyday in our local community. View the video clip below to see what Channel 9 uncovered during their investigative reporting and read the full article on their website for more details. 


CLSMF Children’s Rights Case in the News

On April 26, 2017 Channel 9 reporter Nancy Alvarez interviewed CLSMF Children’s Rights Unit Leader Dr. Katie Kelly and her client Mr. Anderson. The story, as most Children’s Rights cases are, is a very sad one. Moreover, it draws attention to the Volusia County school district for not heading warnings about a member of their staff who had been misusing his power of authority at Taylor Middle-High School. Months before his arrest, Dr. Kelly had contacted the district with concerns about Keyunta Murphy. She has had multiple clients bring attention to Mr. Murphy, but the district did nothing about it. 

Watch the Channel 9 story online: