#StudentsHaveRights Campaign Launch

Minor Offenses of Children Threaten Expulsion
Legal Representation in Disciplinary Hearings May Keep Kids in School

Georgia Legal Services Program, Inc. (GLSP) launched an education campaign this week, #StudentsHaveRights. The civil legal aid organization handled nearly 100 school discipline cases last year, working to keep students charged with minor, non-violent offenses in school. Most were facing expulsion before attorneys stepped in.

“Understanding children’s rights can ensure that your child is not being unfairly disciplined,” Kenji Roberts says, speaking from experience. Her granddaughter, 12 years old at the time, was threatened with expulsion for yielding to the pressure of a bully who demanded she write “Hi” on the bathroom wall— the student’s first and only offense.

Given the high numbers of disciplinary hearings that take place each week in school districts throughout the state, it’s believed that thousands of students go without the legal representation they need in these proceedings.

“Parents often don’t realize how serious these matters can be until they get there,” GLSP Attorney Jessica Stuart told WABE’s Rose Scott and Denis O’Hayer in a July 30th appearance on their radio show, Closer Look. “In our organization, we provide free services. We can represent students at these hearings.”  GLSP offers legal representation to families in Georgia with low incomes who live outside the five-county metro area.

The #StudentsHaveRights campaign is targeted toward students and parents in Georgia, as well as attorneys who are interested in representing students in school discipline matters.


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GLSP President of Board of Directors Nears Finish Line for Fundraiser


As published in The Daily Report by Kathleen Baydala Joyner.

By next week, lawyer Damon Elmore will have biked across all 159 of Georgia counties.

Elmore, president of the Georgia Legal Services Program’s board of directors, began his trek last year to raise money for civil legal services. On Thursday, he told lawyers gathered at the State Bar of Georgia’s annual meeting at Stone Mountain that he will bike the last two counties—Union and Towns in north Georgia—on Monday.

As a warm-up, he’s leading a seven-mile ride through Stone Mountain Park on Friday morning.

He’s also hoping to bridge the roughly $2,000 gap toward reaching his goal of $15,900.

The Daily Report caught up with Elmore at the bar meeting to ask what he’s learned on his journey.

How did this idea come about? Why are you biking 159 counties?

It’s just a marriage of two different things that I love: legal services for the poor and cycling. And the cycling gives me the real opportunity to see and sort of feel what the communities that we help and the people that we help look like and sort of be a part of it more directly.

I saw real tangible images of poverty: a lot of businesses out of business, dilapidated houses, long lines outside medical clinics.

What is the financial need right now for legal services?

“Critical” seems cliché but appropriate. And that’s because traditional sources are tighter, and the needs are larger and greater. For legal services, we give help with the private attorneys who work with the clients on cases, but there are so many other things that the money can go toward.

We have lawyers in our satellite offices who are helping six, eight, 10 different counties, having to drive to all of those counties.

What have you learned about the need for legal services as you’ve seen different parts of the state?

Legal services are part of the essential, basic, critical needs of men and women. Legal services help with benefits. They help keep families together. They help ensure students receive fair treatment in schools so they don’t turn into statistics, getting in the pipeline to prison.

Legal services are so connected to a better state overall. I really didn’t put that together at first.

What did you learn about yourself on your tour?

I did a ride two weeks ago in Dade County that sort of summarized what I’ve learned about me. The ride started in Trenton, which is in the Lookout Mountain valley, and the route I planned took me up Cloudland Canyon and up Lookout Mountain. So in the first eight miles, I went up 2,300 feet. And three times, I thought about turning around, because it would have been a descent. But I didn’t.

So, I think the two things that were made manifest for me on that day were: the [Nelson] Mandela quote that it only seems impossible until it is done, and it was the first time in this initiative that I’ve really been proud of what I’ve done.

We haven’t raised $1 million or eradicated poverty, but we’ve had a lot of buzz. And we’ve brought legal services back into the conversation without it being threatening or sounding like the same story line.

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Former GLSP Attorney Named Georgia’s Magistrate of the Year

Patricia Barron was named Georgia’s 2015 Magistrate of the Year at the Georgia Council’s annual meeting in May. Judge Barron, currently Athens-Clarke County Chief Magistrate Court Judge, worked at Georgia Legal Services Program throughout the state for twenty years.

“She was devoted to her clients and set a high standard for her staff during her service as Managing Attorney of the Gainesville office,” GLSP Executive Director Phyllis Holmen remembers of Judge Barron’s work. “We’ve watched her career as Magistrate in Athens, and are proud of the innovations she has brought to that court to underscore her commitment to access to justice.”

Patricia Barron, a native of Atlanta and an alumna of Georgetown University Law Center, also worked at the University of Georgia School of Law’s Family Violence Clinic, where as a managing attorney she trained law students on representing victims of domestic violence. The judge has served at the Athens-Clarke Magistrate Court for nearly fifteen years, and was appointed chief judge in only her second year at the Court.

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GLSP Silent Auction 2015


3rd Annual

GLSP Silent Auction

Stone Mountain’s Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort

Stone Mountain, GA

June 18-21, 2015

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to bid on a variety of wonderful new and unused items for you and your family!  Proceeds will support GLSP’s mission to provide civil legal services to persons with low incomes, creating equal access to justice and opportunities out of poverty in 154 of Georgia’s 159 counties.

If you have a hobby that you’re excited about, here’s your chance to showcase your artwork, photography, floral designs, paintings, illustrations, hand-crafted jewelry, pottery, crocheted or knitted items, and more.  Please send in your donation item with a completed donation form by June 1, 2015 to GLSP, Attn: Silent Auction, 104 Marietta Street, Suite 250, Atlanta GA 30303!  Please contact the Development Office at 404-206-5175 about volunteer opportunities.  Thanks for your support!



Gift Baskets

Restaurant Gift Cards/Certificates

Floral Arrangements

Frequent Flyer Miles




Vacation Homes

Hotel Stays

Fashion Accessories

Spa Packages

Tickets to Amusement Parks, Museums, Zoos

Stuffed Animals



And More!

Find the donation form here…

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Honoring Phil Bond

Phil Bond, Senior Staff Attorney and former Managing Attorney of our Macon office, has been chosen by Mercer Law School as this year’s Outstanding Alumnus. The Alumni Board unanimously agreed that his commitment to his work, his clients, and the pursuit of public service made him an ideal candidate for this award. Phil has been with GLSP for 31 years.

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SPECIAL REPORT: Access to Justice: The Rural Lawyer Gap

Six counties in Georgia have no lawyers. Another 56 counties have 15 or fewer members of the bar. Georgia’s chief justice and state bar president say it’s a crisis for the legal system. The Daily Report went to South Georgia, home to all six lawyerless counties, to find out how law is practiced in a land without lawyers—and what some say should be done about it

Read more

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New York Times highlights GLSP school-discipline case

The New York Times carried a front page story Dec. 11, 2014, about an African-American  Henry County girl harshly disciplined for writing one word on a locker, “Hi,” while the white child involved in the incident received a lesser punishment, though her actions were more destructive. GLSP attorney Mike Tafelski is pictured and quoted.

CLICK HERE to read the entire article.

Mike Tafelski was also interviewed on NPR’s “The Takeaway” on Dec. 12, 2014.

To listen to that radio program, CLICK HERE.

And, Mike Tafelski was interviewed on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “On Second Thought” on Dec. 15, 2014.

To listen to that radio program, CLICK HERE

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