DLA Piper joins PwC to aid disadvantaged school kids in New York

DLA Piper joins PwC to aid disadvantaged school kids in New York” />DLA Piper’s New York office has launched a pro bono project in the city, working with other activist legal groups for a government organisation to help improve facilities and access for the city’s pre-school and primary students from low-income areas.

DLA Piper has pledged to devote 5,000 hours, at a cost to the firm of some $2m (£1.05m), in the first year of the ongoing programme, named ‘Access to Education’. The scheme will primarily provide transactional representation of the New York City Head Start programme.

DLA Piper will work in partnership with accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and attorneys from the Lawyers Alliance for New York (LANY), Advocates for Children and Legal Services for New York City.

Head Start, administered by the US Department of Health & Human Services, provides advice, assistance and access to education for children from low-income areas.

DLA Piper will aim to assist Head Start’s governors and administrators to meet stringent federal performance standards, primarily in corporate governance, in conjunction with PwC. The scheme will focus its training on reporting and fiscal management strategies.

DLA will also work with the three activist legal groups involved in the project to provide direct representation of public school students in disciplinary and special education proceedings and will work on the development of an education policy initiative for the city.

The firm’s attorneys will identify public school students from underprivileged or low-income backgrounds and represent them in disciplinary and special education proceedings before school and Department of Education officials.

DLA Piper New York managing partner Peter Pantaleo said: “This is a significant commitment by our firm and attorneys to provide the community with a dedicated, multidisciplinary programme designed to prevent educational interruptions for low-income students throughout the city.”

Pantaleo said previous pro bono efforts in the education sector revealed that some 15,000 children in the New York City public school system face long-term suspensions annually. Many of those are unrepresented during disciplinary proceedings that could remove them from classrooms.

DLA Piper US pro bono partner Elizabeth Dewey said: “Too often in the past, low-income children have been derailed by a lack of resources beginning as early as preschool. This gives us the chance to begin reversing that.”

The New York programme mirrors similar successful efforts for DLA Piper in both Chicago and Washington DC.