COVID-19   Law    Advocacy    Topics A-Z     Training    Wrights' Blog   Wrightslaw Store    Yellow Pages for Kids 

 Home > Press Room > Bellinger '09 Receives Equal Justice Works Fellowship

The Special Ed Advocate newsletter
It's Unique ... and Free!

Enter your email address below:

Training Programs

Dec. 10 - OH via ZOOM


Feb. 2-5 - San Antonio, TX

Feb. 27-28 - Southern CA

Mar. 23 - Anchorage, AK

Mar. 30 - Long Island, NY

Apr. 5 - Hill AFB, UT

Full Schedule


Topics from A-Z
Free Newsletter
Seminars & Training
Yellow Pages for Kids
Press Room

Books & Training

Wrightslaw Storesecure store lock
  Advocate's Store
  Student Bookstore
  Exam Copies
Training Center
Bulk Discounts
Military Discounts
Student Discounts
Mail & Fax Orders

Advocacy Library

Cool Tools
Doing Your Homework
Ask the Advocate
Newsletter Archives
Short Course Series
Success Stories

Law Library

Fed Court Complaints
IDEA 2004
McKinney-Vento Homeless
Section 504


American Indian
Assistive Technology
Autism Spectrum
Behavior & Discipline
College/Continuing Ed
Due Process
Early Intervention
  (Part C)

Episodic, such as
   Allergies, Asthma,
   Diabetes, Epilepsy, etc

Future Planning
High-Stakes Tests
Homeless Children
IDEA 2004
Identification & Child Find
Juvenile Justice
Law School & Clinics
Letters & Paper Trails
LRE / Inclusion
Military / DOD
Parental Protections
PE and Adapted PE
Privacy & Records
Procedural Safeguards
Progress Monitoring
Related Services
Research Based

Response to Intervention

Restraints / Seclusion
   and Abuse

School Report Cards
Section 504
Teachers & Principals
Twice Exceptional (2e)
VA Special Education

Resources & Directories

Advocate's Bookstore
Advocacy Resources
  Disability Groups
  State DOEs
  State PTIs
Free Flyers
Free Pubs
Free Newsletters
Legal & Advocacy
   Legal Terms
   Assessment Terms
Best School Websites


Bellinger '09 Receives Equal Justice Works Fellowship

by Ann Gaudreaux | April 7, 2009
William & Mary Law School

Sarah Bellinger '09 has been awarded an Equal Justice Works Fellowship for her proposal to create a Special Education Clinic in concert with Advocacy, Inc., of Houston, Texas. Bellinger begins her fellowship with Advocacy, Inc., a disability rights public interest Sarah Bellingerorganization, following her graduation from William & Mary Law School in May. For more than 20 years, the Equal Justice Works Fellowship Program has created partnerships among public interest lawyers, nonprofit organizations, and law firm and corporate sponsors to provide access to the justice system for underrepresented populations. Equal Justice Works also recruits attorneys with various experiences and backgrounds and provides them with a strong foundation on which to build a public interest career.

"Sarah is a person of amazing energy. She possesses a passion for children's advocacy that is truly inspiring," said interim Dean and Chancellor Professor of Law Lynda Butler. "I am delighted to see her chosen for the prestigious Equal Justice Works Fellowship program."

"Before coming to William & Mary Law School," Bellinger said, "I worked as a social worker, mainly with victims of domestic violence and rape. As clinical coordinator for Alliance Adolescent and Children's Services in Houston, a child-placement agency for children in foster care and the juvenile justice system, I saw the need for Special Education advocacy, as many of our children had unmet special education needs that crossed over into discipline problems. That experience sparked my passion for Special Education advocacy and inspired me to go to law school. After clerking for Advocacy, Inc., in summer 2008, I knew that this was the direction I wanted to take."

Bellinger graduated from Tulane University, New Orleans, with a bachelor of arts degree magna cum laude in history, and a master's degree in social work. At William & Mary Law School, she serves as Notes Editor of the William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law, has achieved honors in Legal Skills IV, is Co-Chair of the Public Service Fund, and Vice President of the Therapeutic Jurisprudence Society. Bellinger currently is enrolled in the Special Education Advocacy and Law course, taught by Adjunct Professors Pamela Darr Wright and Peter Wright. The new course and new Special Education Advocacy Clinic are part of the Law School's Parents Engaged for Learning Equality Initiative.

Advocacy, Inc. (AI) is a federally-funded nonprofit organization that provides civil legal services to persons with disabilities in Texas. Its mission is to combat discrimination against persons with disabilities and to advocate for them in accessing appropriate services and supports. The Austin office implemented a Special Education Clinic in 2008, with remarkable success. Sarah was able to attend training sessions for this clinic and to participate in the "School-to-Prison Pipeline" Project, which addresses the disproportionate representation of special education students in the juvenile justice system as a result of zero tolerance school discipline policies.

"The Special Education Clinic fits well within AI's mission," Bellinger said, "and AI will support me by hosting me in their Houston office, where the phones ring steadily with the calls of parents of special needs children. The caseloads of our staff in all regions of the state require their full attention and time. This project will take their direct services model, in which a limited number of parents receive intense, case-level, ongoing assistance from our staff, and expand it to serve many parents and children we would not ordinarily reach by training the parents themselves to become advocates, and training a large pool of volunteer attorneys to equip them further for special education meetings and proceedings."

During her two-year fellowship with Advocacy, Inc., sponsored by the Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation, Bellinger has set ambitious goals. She will provide direct representation to Special Education students at school and in court, and create a pro bono Special Education Clinic composed of private attorneys who will assist parents in obtaining or modifying Special Education services for their children. She then will work to establish a sustainable pool of lawyers who are knowledgeable about Special Education law and the process of advocating for Special Education services in schools. To that end, Bellinger will develop education and training materials for lawyers, advocates, and parents regarding Special Education law. She will also directly educate parents of children with disabilities regarding Special Education law, and about their right to Special Education services so they can become better advocates for their children.

"I hope to be able to reduce the number of students in Harris and its surrounding counties in Texas who receive inadequate Special Education services, and increase school compliance with IDEA requirements," Bellinger said.

The ultimate goal at the end of the two-year fellowship, she added, is to leave behind a committed group of attorneys who will carry on the work of the clinic, a training manual for attorneys, case workers and other advocates, and for parents and guardians.

"Sarah has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to public service," said Robert Kaplan, Associate Dean for Career Services and Public Service Initiatives. "The William & Mary Law School community is proud of her well-deserved recognition as an Equal Justice Works Fellow."

"Since the mission of Equal Justice Works is to create a just society by mobilizing the next generation of lawyers committed to equal justice," Bellinger said, "I hope to do my part to promote equal justice for these children and their families.

"It means a great deal to me to be awarded this Fellowship," she added. "With the help of Equal Justice Works, Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation, and Advocacy, Inc., I'm able to see my goals for going to law school come full circle. I was motivated to seek out a legal education because I wanted to become a Special Education advocate. I'm so thrilled that I will be able to achieve that purpose."


Print this page


Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon The Special Ed Advocate: It's Free!

ALL Wrightslaw
Products 25% OFF!

Check Out
The Advocate's Store!

Wrightslaw on FacebookWrightslaw on TwitterWrightslaw YouTube Channel 

Wrightslaw Books
Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright

About the Book

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
About the Book

Wrightslaw: Special Education Legal Developments and Cases 2019
About the Book

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
About the DVD Video

Student Discounts

Military Discounts

The Advocate's Store

Wrightslaw Multimedia Training

Understanding Your Child's
Test Scores (1.5 hrs)

Wrightslaw Special: $14.95

Wrightslaw Mutimedia Training Download

Special Education Law & Advocacy Training
(6.5 hrs)

Wrightslaw Special: $49.95