David Richardson, former director of Phoenix Rising, was frustrated by a lack of clarity about his school’s legal classification. A partnership between the Juvenile Bureau and Tulsa Public Schools, Phoenix Rising serves youth who are or have been involved in the juvenile justice system and are at risk of not graduating high school.
Richardson and his team faced a range of hurdles because they did not know whether the school was a “traditional” public school or an “alternative” school under Oklahoma law. After years of trying solve the puzzle, Richardson finally turned to TU Law’s Community Advocacy Clinic for help.
In this strategic planning project, three students, Casey Edwards, Keith Flinn, and Gabby Mandeville, became experts in education law and policy and developed recommendations to support the school’s development and growth. The student’s goal was to support Phoenix Rising in developing a strategy for long-term stability and clarity of its classification as a school. The team produced a report titled, Phoenix Rising: Educating Through Partnership.
As described by Jordan Westbrook, current director of Phoenix Rising:
“The Community Advocacy Clinic’s impact during and after the report was complete has changed the structure of our program. The focus of the team’s research has created energy within our system and other surrounding systems to influence positive change. The final product has been shared with staff and is available for students and families as well. The CAC is awesome!”
Casey Edwards, one of the TU Law students who assisted Phoenix Rising, says:
“My experience in the Clinic was the most challenging and rewarding experience I had in law school. We had the opportunity to work alongside Tulsa professionals who are doing amazing things for the community, while developing critical lawyering skills that are not as readily developed in the classroom.”