The same principle applies to truancy referrals. Education Transformed notes that Mesquite ISD and Duncanville ISD in the Dallas-Fort Worth area administered over 300 referrals to parents and young people in the fall of 2020.5 The centuries-old notion of criminalization governs here; it allows school police officers and truancy courts to operate as usual during a pandemic, while millions struggle to meet their basic needs. As we sit with all of this suffering around us, we might wonder what we can do as lawyers? There are a number of ways to engage in the fight for social justice at this pivotal juncture. I urge my fellow attorneys to first seek out base-building organizations in their communities— ones that center the voices and leadership of people directly impacted by racism—and offer to provide material support to them. You can donate, amplify content on social media, and lend pro bono resources to them. Perhaps you may decide to enter into a limited representation agreement for members of the organization? This arrangement could potentially be helpful, for example, to children facing disciplinary hearings this academic year. To put this all more succinctly, this is an extraordinary moment. We only stand to witness more collapse in the immediate future; climate change, reckonings with racist policies, and economic inequality only stand to imminently intensify. As lawyers, we can stand in solidarity with social movements that attack the ongoing harms discussed in Education Transformed and this article. We can start by fighting for the dignity of the youngest among us in their schools and communities. Andrew Hairston is the Education Justice Project Director for Texas Appleseed. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Howard University and a law degree from Louisiana State University.
1. EDUCATION TRANSFORMED: THE K-12 EXPERIENCE IN TEXAS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, TEX. APPLESEED, 6 (2021), available at https://www.texasappleseed.org/sites/default/files/EducationTransformed_
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Report032921-Fin.pdf. 2. See Dana Goldstein, Do Police Officers Make Schools Safer or More Dangerous, N.Y. TIMES, June 12, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/12/us/ schools-police-resource-officers.html; Sarah Childress, Justice Department Probes Another “School-to-Prison Pipeline,” AUSTINPBS, Apr. 1, 2015, https:// www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/justice-department-probes-anotherschool-to-prison-pipeline/. 3. EDUCATION TRANSFORMED, supra note 1, at 29–33. 4. Id. at 25. 5. Id. at 20.