Distinguished Professor of Law Dean Hill Rivkin, community cooperating attorney Brenda McGee, a 1984 graduate of UT Law, and the Education Law Practicum and its six classes of students were all presented with the Advocate Award at the Spirit of ADA Award Celebration in downtown Knoxville on Thursday, March 14. Practicum students Naureen Asif, Chandler Lawson, Juan Quevedo, and Amy Sosinski and faculty assistant Sean Gunter attended the ceremony to represent the practicum.
“Professor Rivkin and Attorney McGee have proven themselves tireless champions for children’s rights,” the award narrative states. “They have represented at-risk youth in court proceedings, successfully persuaded the Tennessee educational system to implement more rigorous screening for students in need of accommodations, and have focused national attention upon widespread injustices in prosecutions of truant children without legal representation.
“Further, they have mentored rising lawyers through UT’s Education Law Practicum,” the narrative continues. “Their students have successfully advocated for far-reaching regulations compelling Tennessee school systems to screen students for providing accommodations before initiating truancy proceedings, represented clients in truancy proceedings, helped develop alternative educational programs for teens and adults with disabilities, helped simplify the process for applying to get a GED, were instrumental in shining a national spotlight on the flaws in truancy laws, [and] given presentations to educate the general public on race disparity and the harshness of punishment for truancy violations.”
The Spirit of ADA Award Celebration was held in conjunction with the DRC’s twenty-fifth ADA Legacy Tour. The DRC provides information, independent living skills training, individual and systems advocacy services, peer support, legal services, employment services, and more to members of the Knoxville community and surrounding areas.
The Education Law Practicum delivers services to Knoxville-area students and families on a pro bono basis. The mission of the practicum is to ensure students and their families get equal access to justice on various non-criminal “status offense” cases ranging from truancy to violating curfews.