Protecting and Advocating for Schoolchildren
Teachers shape minds. The influence of a teacher on a student is lasting—the lessons learned reach future generations—and their influence can change the course of a student’s life. Because of this vast influence, parents expect teaching professionals to approach their position with the reverence it deserves, taking great care to ensure their influence serves the best interest of their students. And, even more importantly, students expect the same, a safe environment is paramount to their growth and exploration. If the most enduring authority figures in a child’s life outside of their parents cannot be relied upon, who can be?
Kennedy Kennedy & Ives doesn’t stop with holding individual perpetrators responsible. We recognize that it’s a broken system that allows for violations to take place. The sanctity of education and safety of our children requires the utmost vigilance. We seek accountability of principals who hire and supervise teachers, and superintendents who oversee school district policies. If we fail to reform systems, we fail to protect children.
In the landmark Sanchez v. Brokop case, following a $3.2 million dollar jury verdict, the school superintendent hired our liability expert, Robert Shoop, to conduct district-wide trainings for principals on how to prevent sexual misconduct. This is the systemic change our legal team strives for, we consider this a win for all schoolchildren.
The School to Prison Pipeline
Kennedy Kennedy & Ives has represented students in public schools arrested for burping, refusing to hand over a cell phone, and failure to attend detention— offenses, that in other schools, are rightly handled by school administrators. Our efforts representing these unjustly arrested students in the Albuquerque Public Schools resulted in trainings and standardized protocols for Resource Officers. The number of arrests decreased from 180 in a two-year period to just one the year after the new policy went into place.
On a federal level, our extensive work in this area of civil rights contributed to the Department of Justice’s possible investigation of Albuquerque’s School to Prison Pipeline. Notable in their consideration is the disportionate rate at which students with disabilities are arrested.
Representing Youth Violated by Police Officers
Young people are often victims of abuse by police officers, but they are less likely to seek legal actions. At Kennedy Kennedy & Ives we are devoted to working with the unique needs of young victims, their guardians, youth advocates, and pediatric experts to accurately estimate lifetime impacts of police misconduct. We’re also committed to advocating for systemic reform. Clients like Diana Guerrero prove that with thoughtful, experienced support, and authority figures willing to hear and believe victims, it’s possible for survivors to rebuild their lives and face the future with hope. In Diana’s words:
“This sexual assault will never, ever be my shame. Thankfully, I am learning and recovering in a resilient and healthy way. I do what I can to make it through my days, whatever it takes, baby steps. I do it for myself, my family and especially all the women and men in the world who have been in my situation. I will never give up on myself again.
To learn more about Kennedy Kennedy & Ives’ children and youth cases, please go to our blog:Children & Youth