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Two schools to host free legal clinics



District families who need legal advice on problems like eviction, debt and foreclosure now have a new place to turn to for help.

Beginning Thursday, CMSD will host legal clinics at two high schools in partnership with the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association. Experienced lawyers will be at Glenville High School and the Lincoln-West Campus to offer legal advice related to housing, government benefits and other civil issues.

The clinics will be held April 13, 20 and 27 and May 4, 11, 18 and 25 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at both locations. Consults will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis and families will be screened for financial eligibility.

Tiffany Darby, the director of strategy and operations for District CEO Eric Gordon, helped organize the initiative. She hopes the clinics help families who are in unstable housing and other situations that can result in students having to switch from one school to another.

“Our hope is that with these legal clinics, we can help minimize some of those stressors,” Darby said. “We want our families to know what rights they have and give them resources to work through their legal problems before they throw up their hands and give up.”


The lawyers will offer advice on bankruptcy, child custody, child support, divorce, eviction, foreclosure, government benefits, immigration and income tax. Each of the attorneys will receive training and support in poverty law and other relevant areas of the law.

Rebecca Maurer is a staff attorney and Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Fellow at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, which is a private, nonprofit law firm that offers free legal advice to low-income residents across Northeast Ohio. She said her organization wants to make a direct impact on District families who don’t know about opportunities for legal assistance.
Because Cleveland has a high poverty rate, many families can't afford to hire a lawyer and don't know where to turn for help, Maurer said. 

“This partnership is important to us because oftentimes, our clients present legal issues that mean the difference between falling further into poverty or moving out of poverty,” she said. “We know that problems with landlords or debt collectors can make it hard for kids to learn. We want to speak to families the moment an issue arises and hopefully promote household stability and positive educational outcomes for kids.”