Youth Development

Learning Rights Law Center

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • www.learningrights.org

Mission Statement

Learning Rights remains the only legal-services nonprofit on the West Coast focused exclusively on providing education access. Learning Rights was founded in 2005 by Janeen Steel and Inés Kuperschmit after they saw enormous gaps in educational services provided to poor children with disabilities. Learning Rights Law Center seeks to ensure that all students are provided with equitable access to the public education system and focuses on low-income students who have disabilities, face discrimination or are involved in the foster care or juvenile justice systems.

Learning Rights includes among its constituents the students (birth through age 22), as well as parents, service providers, educators and legal professionals who impact the lives of these young people. Students and their families come from economically-marginalized communities throughout Los Angeles County who turn to us after they exhaust all other resources. To this day, Learning Rights has served more than 30,000 low-income students who do not have proper access to the public education, their families and other stakeholders.

Our vision is a world in which all children may pursue a meaningful and equitable education that provides them with a brighter future and the means to become successful adults. In 2014, Learning Rights' advocacy resulted in thousands of hours of compensatory education services and therapies - and more than $1.6 million worth of free services - being awarded to poor and disabled students.

In 2014, Learning Rights assisted more than 21,000 students, parents and stakeholders through these following services:

•Outreach - Learning Rights' outreach activities are designed to connect families of students with education-access issues to the necessary programs and services.
•Training - Learning Rights conducts educational seminars and training sessions for parents and community stakeholders (e.g. doctors, social workers, court personnel). Learning Rights' chief training and organizing Program, called TIGER, is a year-long Program that helps low-income parents advocate for their children with disabilities, while also bringing social change within the education system.
•Education Rights Clinics – Through in-person, one-to-one meetings, Learning Rights counsels and advises low-income parents and develops individualized action plans that each parent can use to address their child's education issues.
•Legal Advocacy –Legal advocacy provides direct representation to help families enforce their right to directly communicate violations of education law to key school district administrators, or state and federal government agencies. By taking unresolved conflicts out of the individual schools and into administrative bodies charged with ensuring compliance with the law (e.g. the California Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, and Office of Administrative Hearings Special Education Division), students get another chance to obtain education access before having to resort to litigation. In 2014, Learning Rights filed a total of 92 Administrative Complaints.
•Civil Rights Litigation - Learning Rights employs litigation as a strategy only when issues are systemic or cannot be solved at the local level. In 2014, Learning Rights filed one lawsuit.

Main Programs

  1. TIGER (Training Individuals for Grassroots Education Reform) Program
Service Areas

Self-reported

California

Primarily Los Angeles County and surrounding areas.

ruling year

2006

Principal Officer

Self-reported

Mrs. Inés Kuperschmit

Keywords

Self-reported

Legal Services, Legal Assistance, Advocacy, Legal Assistance, Advocacy, Education, Training, Workshops, Education Equity, Disability, Foster Youth, Juvenile Delinquency, Medical Legal, Education Rightsation, Training, Workshops, Education Equity, Disability, Foster Youth, Juvenile Deliquency, Medical Legal, Education Rights

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Also Known As

LRLC

EIN

83-0434929

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (O01)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (B01)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

TIGER (Training Individuals for Grassroots Education Reform) Program

The TIGER Program offers hands-on training to help low-income parents better navigate the special education system for their children with disabilities. The Program was developed and launched by Learning Rights Law Center co-founders Janeen Steel and Inés Kuperschmit in late 2005 after they observed a gap in effective know-your-rights trainings in the area of education law. Since then, TIGER has served more than 3,000 parents and children, and introduced ongoing community groups to spearhead change in their local school districts.

TIGER Program is available to parents whose PreK-12th grade children, aged 3-22, have a variety of disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, specific learning disabilities, emotional disorder, speech or language impairments and intellectual disabilities. TIGER parents reside in low-income communities in Los Angeles County including South Los Angeles, Watts, East Los Angeles, Montebello, Downey, Whittier and downtown Los Angeles. Because of the high incidence of monolingual Spanish speakers, Learning Rights offers interpreters at all TIGER activities. In 2015, an average of 210 parents are served monthly (or, a total of 410 parents, unduplicated) representing an increase of 27% over service levels in 2014 (an average of 156 parents were served monthly in 2014, or a total of 295 parents unduplicated) and a remarkable 100% increase over service levels in 2013. In 2014, it cost Learning Rights just $553 to put each parent through the training program. As the TIGER Program expands, we expect the cost to decrease. All TIGER activities are offered free to participants.

The TIGER Program is comprised of the following components: Beginning TIGER ( five training groups - held in Watts, East Los Angeles, Whittier, Long Beach and Pacoima) immerses parents in the basics of education advocacy via a series of 11 monthly interactive trainings; Intermediate TIGER (two training groups – held in Watts and East LA) offers Beginning TIGER graduates deeper exposure to key special education concepts through a six-month-long training series; Advanced TIGER (one training group – held in downtown LA) provides Intermediate TIGER graduates with monthly trainings that go into even greater depth on specific topics; parent-led TIGER Community Groups (in Downey, Long Beach, Highland Park and West Los Angeles) meet each month to support local parents whose children with disabilities have education-access issues; and the Annual TIGER Town Hall, which offers parents a day of interactive workshops led by special education attorneys and advocates. Parents who graduate from the Advanced TIGER continue to be part of the Program by becoming Parent Group Leaders. In 2015, Learning Rights launched its e-TIGER Pilot Project, which is designed to widen the TIGER Program reach via digital media.




Category

Educational Programs

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Adults

Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- General

Budget

$227,869.00

Service Areas

Self-reported

California

Primarily Los Angeles County and surrounding areas.

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Financials

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Learning Rights Law Center
Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Learning Rights Law Center

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

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Principal Officer

Mrs. Inés Kuperschmit

BIO

Janeen Steel has a learning disability. She understands what it is like to sit in class and understand the subjects being taught, but fail the exams. Education, the most difficult thing in her life, actually changed her life. Growing up in Los Angeles, Ms. Steel at age 18 graduated from Hollywood High adult school in 1981. She felt disconnected from learning and over the next 6 years after high school lived a life of self-destruction. Then she hit bottom living with friends and got sick. Life had to change. Attending a community college, she wanted to be a writer but others had a difficult time understanding it. A teacher advised her to be tested for a learning disability and one was found. Over the next few years she found her intellect and a commitment to education for all students. She felt that the only way to assist others was to become a lawyer. In 1996 she was admitted to UCLA Law School, she soon realized that most students with learning disabilities from low income families do not get that opportunity. She discovered that many spend time in jail. In fact, 70% of incarcerated youth have some disability and one-third of students with learning disabilities are arrested within 3 years of high school. She decided to take action to address these statistics. In 1998, Janeen Steel, a 2nd year law student at UCLA, received the UCLA La Raza Alumni Association Cesar Chavez Summer Fellowship to write the Learning Rights Manual. This self-advocacy guide for parents of K-12 students with learning disabilities is designed to help them navigate through the special education system. In 1999, Janeen Steel received the Echoing Green Fellowship for social entrepreneurs to start the Learning Rights Project. Learning Rights' mission was to help students with learning disabilities and learning difficulties achieve their dreams. Ms. Steel started in a small office in Hollywood in September of 1999. In April of 2000, Learning Rights joined the Western Law Center for Disability Rights. Janeen Steel was the first and only project employee for 3 years. Through Ms. Steel?s leadership and tenacious advocacy, the Learning Rights Project grew to include a staff of 4 attorneys/advocates and 1 staff administrator. The project represented the educational needs of children with learning difficulties, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, physical disabilities and emotional disabilities, for children living in South Central Los Angeles and other at-risk areas, and children involved with the juvenile justice system. Learning Rights Project was involved with several landmark cases including the class action lawsuit of Doe 2 v. San Bernardino, challenging the failure of juvenile halls to accommodate detainee?s disabilities, a U.S. Office of Civil Rights class complaint against Los Angeles Unified School District (?LAUSD") for their failure to translate critical education documents for monolingual Spanish parents, and a class complaint to the California Department of Education regarding the inappropriate placement youth in group homes at on-grounds non-public schools. In addition, Ms. Steel integrated a high school in Los Angeles with 3 students who use wheelchairs, and 2 of the students graduated in the summer of 2005. The unprecedented growth of the Learning Rights Project over 5 years and its cross-collaboration with other juvenile justice organizations and attorneys led to a re-organization of the project in 2005 and the birth of the Learning Rights Law Center, an independent non-profit organization whose sole mission is the rights of students. The need to expand and to address a broader range of education issues became clear as systemic education issues emerged through independent client advocacy.

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Mrs. Tina Steck

No Afilliation

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

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BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?


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CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


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ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


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BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


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BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?