University of San Diego School of Law
Advocate Fall 2017 Issue

Advocate for Education

Curtis Davis, '18 (JD), Defends the Rights of Unrepresented Students

Curtis Davis, a fourth-year part-time law student and a teacher in the Learning Resource Center at La Jolla Country Day, says he “came to law school to protect children and their right to education.” That commitment is evident in the work he has done with Advocates for Children and Education (ACE), a student organization that promotes the welfare of children and gives students opportunities to provide pro bono advocacy services. This year, he reached a successful settlement for a client—an unrepresented student who had been expelled from high school.

Through ACE, Davis represented this student at his expulsion hearing before the school board and filed an appeal with the San Diego County Office of Education. As part of the settlement, Davis secured an agreement from the school district to reverse the expulsion. The student has now returned to his neighborhood school with strengthened college aspirations.

“Programs such as these are a core value at USD School of Law,” said Associate Dean Margaret Dalton. “We are committed to providing specialized training to our students while also serving the community. This was an opportunity to do both. Davis brought his knowledge, skills and heart to this case. He spent an incredible amount of time researching the statute and rules, and then negotiating with counsel representing the school district. No attorney could have done a better job. I am certain the resolution would not have been successful without his excellent representation.”

The student’s return to school also played a key role in the concurrent juvenile delinquency case. Per the public defender’s request, Davis wrote a letter explaining the parents’ active involvement in the expulsion appeal process. The judge considered the letter detailing the education support plan, which included counseling and a return to the student’s neighborhood school. The parents and student received a favorable ruling. ACE will continue to support the student with academic resources to maximize the student’s transition back to school and future college opportunities. This student would be the first in a family of seven children to attend college.

“The outcome was possible because Dean Dalton provided support during each phase of the case,” said Davis. “ACE, Dean Dalton and the PD’s Office have developed a strong partnership to help children and families assert their rights when the right to education becomes threate