Greensboro News & Record

Elon law school, Harvard data guru on board for Say Yes Guilford

GREENSBORO — Students at the Elon University School of Law will work with local attorneys to offer legal counseling services for families through Say Yes Guilford.

The university will provide students to complete intake and analysis of cases, said Margaret Robison Kantlehner, associate professor of law and director of externships for Elon. They will also work with volunteer lawyers to advise families of students in Guilford County Schools as needed, she said.

The goal is to start offering the legal counseling next fall, Kantlehner said. The details still are being worked out, she said.

“We’re excited,” Kantlehner said. “It’s nice to bring students into the community to meet the clients and do some good work.”

Say Yes Guilford, the local chapter of New York-based Say Yes to Education, launched Sept. 17. Guilford is the first Say Yes partnership community outside of the northeast United States.

Most graduates of Guilford County Schools, starting with the class of 2016, will be eligible for last-dollar tuition scholarships.

The legal counseling will be part of a broader system of supports and services offered to families through Say Yes Guilford, the local chapter of New York-based Say Yes to Education.

Say Yes officials have said it will take several years to completely roll out what they call wraparound services.

The idea behind those services is that outside factors such as inadequate housing, hunger or family legal trouble could affect how students perform in school. So breaking down the barriers students face to graduation would involve addressing some of the issues they carry with them to school each day.

Say Yes to Education has also hired Akisha Jones, a Harvard Strategic Data Project fellow, to work out of the Guilford County Schools Office of Accountability and Research.

The Strategic Data Project works with education agencies, schools or school systems to make better use of data. The fellows, who have “heavy quantitative research skills,” are vetted through Harvard and then placed with education agencies across the country, Jones said.

Jones said her work will include looking at discipline issues and racial disparities in Guilford County Schools, as well as evaluating and analyzing data related to the school system’s African American Male Initiative. Her broader job is to support research and evaluation efforts through the school system.

The national organization previously announced Mary Vigue as executive director of the Guilford chapter and Kristen Christman as the local scholarship director.

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