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Rights and Remedies

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By Marvin Gonzalez

A new partnership helps ASU students advocate for special education rights.

For the little boy in Evan Malady’s adaptive-education swim class, letting go in the water was the easy part. Letting go after class was a different story.

“He would go home and talk nonstop about the swim class he was in,” says Malady, who worked with him while completing his undergraduate studies.

The boy wrote Malady a card on the last day of class; by then, Malady knew he wanted to continue helping children with disabilities.

Now in his third year at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Malady has found a new way to serve those with special needs.

An extern for the Special Education Law Project, Malady advocates for families fighting to get special education services for their children. Funded with a $250,000 grant from the Arizona Community Foundation, the project serves families who are unable to afford or find the legal services needed to enforce their children’s education rights, says J. J. Rico, executive director of the Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL), which partners with ASU’s College of Law on the program.

Because 10 percent of Arizona’s K–12 population identifies as having one or more disabilities, this type of advocacy is greatly needed, Rico says. In the past, the ACDL advocated for 5 to 15 percent of those who sought their services, leaving many families in need of representation. Now, the project has begun to fill the gap.

“I think my work has helped kids receive the proper services they deserve,” says Malady. “The gratifying thing is seeing the parents’ comfort in sending their child to school.”

And that’s something he doesn’t want to let go.

To find out how the ACDL advocates for persons with disabilities to be free from abuse, neglect, and discrimination, visit azdisabilitylaw.org
To discover how ASU Law is committed to public service through legal principle, visit law.asu.edu

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