Disability Center story

For children and families with disabilities, daily life can be a struggle. Sometimes, even the institutions that are supposed to help them — such as schools, hospitals, and the justice system — create barriers that can seem impossible to overcome.

For the past 10 years, the University of La Verne College of Law has been the proud home of a satellite office of the Disability Rights Legal Center (DRLC), which helps low-income and minority families address some of the most extreme issues surrounding lack of access to even the most basic of services.

The university and DRLC will celebrate the anniversary of the partnership on Oct. 19 at the College of Law campus in Ontario.

“This partnership helps give the Inland Empire’s disabled community a voice,” said College of Law Interim Dean Kevin Marshall. “We are proud to be part of such a noble cause. It aligns with our commitment to community engagement, and it provides our law students with practical experience and a chance to give back. We look forward to working with the center for many more years.”

Students work alongside professors at the center, handling client intake, drafting and filing documents, and attending hearings related to cases. Entities from school districts to hospitals have modified their policies, instituted staff training, and paid damages due to lawsuits brought by College of Law students.

The center has handled an estimated 1,400 intakes, litigated state and federal discrimination cases, filed complaints against school districts, and attended more than 100 Individualized Education Program meetings for clients in the last decade, said University of La Verne DRLC Director Elizabeth Eubanks. About 80 University of La Verne students have received training and experience by working at the center.

Special guests for the celebration include University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman, Associate Justice Carol D. Codrington of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, and Eve Hill, who is considered one of the nation’s leading disability rights attorneys. Codrington previously served as director of litigation for the DRLC when it was known as the Western Law Center for Disability Rights.

The event will include a discussion on civil rights in rural communities by a Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) panel. A reception for the law school’s art gallery, featuring artists with developmental disabilities, will precede the celebration.

The University of La Verne established the office at the College of Law in 2007, offering free legal representation to low-income clients. Law students helped a 16-year-old Ontario girl gain access to the California School for the Blind in 2016 because she was receiving inadequate support from her school district. A Riverside boy with clubfeet who was denied entry to an amusement park ride earlier that year received almost exclusive access to the park’s rides for several hours after a law student sent a demand letter. The park also issued sensitivity training to employees.

And the Department of Justice determined an Inland Empire hospital was out of compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act after law students filed a complaint on behalf of deaf patients who were denied sign language interpreters.

The anniversary celebration will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the College of Law, 320 E. D St., Ontario.

Information: Elizabeth Eubanks, 909-460-2034 or elizabeth.eubanks@drlcenter.org.

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