Education Law Practice Area



Education Law Program

Council for Children’s Rights’ Education Law Program, or ELP, provides expert legal representation and assistance to students who are in the juvenile delinquency or child welfare systems facing educational challenges, to parents and guardians of students who have special education, Section 504, or discipline-related issues, and to the community at-large through free training sessions.

Community Need

Our Approach

Vision Statement

During the 2019-2020 school year, about seven million students nationwide received some measure of special education services. While this number is staggering, it still only accounts for those students whose needs have actually been identified. Council for Children’s Rights has worked on behalf of these students for years, in and around Mecklenburg County, in various capacities. However, the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to reimagine the ways in which we serve. It intensified the pre-existing inequities in the public school system and created additional new concerns for students with disabilities.

In response to these new needs and challenges, the Education Law Program was created. Through ELP, we have expanded our services and opened the door for free legal representation to even more students. Our services are divided into four distinct areas of advocacy: education advocacy for individual families, education navigation for court-involved youth, systemic work, and trainings.

We support children through their educational journey.

Education Navigation

We support students involved in the juvenile delinquency or child welfare systems facing educational challenges. The navigator conducts research and interviews to develop a written report intended to help a Child and Family Team understand and support their student’s educational needs and rights. To learn more, email us or call 704.943.9611. Referrals may be submitted by email.

Student Advocacy

We accept community referrals from parents/legal guardians of students who have special education, Section 504, or school discipline-related issues and may be in need of legal representation in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. To request or learn more about this service, email or call 704.943.9609.

Community Trainings

We offer free community trainings to community partners and parent groups. Our trainings cover a range of topics related to education advocacy. To request or learn more about trainings, email us, call 704.372.7961, or complete the form below.

Systems Advocacy

By devoting time to strategically elevating issues affecting some of our most vulnerable students, our work has a greater community impact — and a more lasting impact for all children.

ELP Attorneys and Support Staff

Caitlin Whalan Jones, JD
Director, Education Law Program

Stephanie Klitsch, JD
Assistant Director, Education Law Program

Daniel Brown, JD
Staff Attorney

Susannah Barr, JD
Staff Attorney

Estephani Cruz Santana 
Program Assistant

In the school year 2018-2019, the number of students aged 3 to 21 that received special education services was around seven million. This is 14% of all public school students. Also, they received this special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA. Of the seven million that received services via IDEA, 33% had specific learning disabilities, 19% had speech or language impairment, 11% had autism, 7% had developmental delay, and 6% had an intellectual disability.

First Wednesdays

ELP attorneys present monthly workshops focused on special education and school discipline.

Program Schedule

Parents, caretakers, professionals, and all who advocate for children are encouraged to attend. Just bring an open mind, questions, and, if you like, your lunch. All workshops are free, however reservations are requested.


First Wednesdays are online workshops that run from September through May. Register below for upcoming live events. Workshops are also available as pre-recorded webinars if you are unable to attend a live workshop.

Click here for upcoming events


Intern with ELP

Internships are available within the Education Law Program. If you are interested in internships with Council for Children’s Rights, please email us.