SUFEO (Stand Up for Each Other) represents youth from various schools in New Orleans who are being suspended or expelled. When students are pushed out of school, they are more likely to be picked up by the criminal justice system.
Our goal is simple: work in the best interest of the child and facilitate the youth’s ability to learn.
The assistance we provide is similar to representation for matters that go before a judge in a criminal or civil court. These, however, are administrative proceedings. There is no courthouse, nor a judge. Even so, youth may have an advocate present, if the youth so desires. If called upon, we assist with the administrative proceedings.
There are generally three steps in our assistance. First, we take calls from concerned parents or from youth who have been suspended or expelled from a school. The youth may be as young as Kindergarten or older, such as the 12th grade. Second, we launch an investigation lead by law students and supervised by licensed attorneys. The investigation looks at potential underlying cause(s) that resulted in a youth’s suspension or expulsion. Third, we provide direct assistance to youth during administrative appeals. We go with youth to the appeal hearing, if a hearing is required at all. This is generally the end of our assistance, but sometimes, a case may resolve prior to the third step altogether.
Overall, our progress is measured by youth participation, quantitative rates of administrative hearings that result in keeping youth enrolled in school, and dissemination of qualitative data on suspensions/expulsions in New Orleans. Law students gain experience in youth advocacy and youth learn effective ways to “Stand Up for Each Other!” through verbal communication and consistent dedication.