About the Service Innovation Project:

Launched in January 2018, the Boston Bar Service Innovation Project is a new model that engages lawyers in service with a goal of advancing innovative solutions to address systemic injustices in our community. In line with its mission to facilitate access to justice and to serve the community at large, the Boston Bar, through the support of the Boston Bar Foundation’s Burnes Innovation in Service Fund, is leveraging the unique resources of the bar to participate in dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline in Massachusetts. This pipeline encompasses the various issues within our education system that result in students being excluded from school and instead funneled into the criminal legal system, with disproportionate impacts on students of color, students with disabilities, and students from low-income families.

Ongoing Projects:

A steering committee composed of attorneys and advocates from a variety of organizations and practice settings worked to identify gaps within local efforts to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline that could be filled using the resources of the organized bar, and assisted the Boston Bar in launching the below projects.

Public Outreach for Students’ Rights

The BBA is partnering with Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) in a first of its kind public outreach program  regarding students’ rights, following GBLS’s 2018 class action settlement agreement with Boston Public Schools. The program features presentations given by members of the BBA’s 2018-2019 Public Interest Leadership Program class and other dedicated volunteers to a series of community groups, informing students, parents, and community members about students’ new rights under the settlement agreement. This project establishes a new collaboration model for a bar association, the private bar, and the legal services community. You can read more about that project here.

For printable Know Your Rights handouts about students’ rights in Boston Public Schools, please click your preferred language below:

Strategic Appeals and Litigation Project

This fall, the BBA will set up a School Discipline Strategic Appeals and Litigation hotline through its Lawyer Referral Service to appeal school discipline cases in Superior Court; pursue damages in cases of unlawful school exclusion; and identify cases for impact litigation of potentially law-altering issues.  The project seeks better outcomes for individual clients, identification and implementation of best practices in school districts, and improvement in this area of the law by advancing systemic changes.

Special Edition of the Boston Bar Journal:

In October 2018, the BBA published a special edition of the Boston Bar Journal focusing on the school-to-prison pipeline. In addition to legal commentary, this edition features personal essays by students and parents from Boston Public Schools. You can read the edition here.

Past Educational Programs and Trainings:

Bar Issue Briefing

In May 2018, the BBA hosted an issue briefing panel featuring a distinguished group of experts to provide members of the bar with a comprehensive overview of the school-to-prison pipeline issue.  Read a recap here.

Annual Meeting Featuring James Forman, Jr.

The 2018 Annual Meeting brought together Boston Bar members, friends, and colleagues for a morning of inspiration and thought leadership focused on engaging the legal community in disrupting the pipeline.  The event featured Yale Law School Professor James Forman, Jr., author of Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, as the keynote speaker. 

School Discipline Pro Bono Training: An Introduction for Lawyers on Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline

In October 2018, the BBA hosted a training to educate attorneys about the school-to-prison pipeline issue and to introduce them to representing students in school discipline hearings.  Watch the video here.

EdLaw Project Pro Bono Training

In November 2018, the BBA hosted a pro bono training for the EdLaw Project, which advocates for low-income families and children in matters of school discipline and special education.  Following the training, attendees were able to join the EdLaw Project’s pro bono panel to represent children with disabilities struggling to get the support they need in school, generating significant additional pro bono support for the project.  Watch the video here.


Thank you to the Boston Bar Service Innovation Project Steering Committee:

Rebecca Cazabon, Co-Chair

Foley Hoag LLP

Matthew Cregor, Co-Chair

Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee

Peter Alvarez

Choate Hall & Stewart

Hon. Jay Blitzman

Middlesex County Juvenile Court

Sarah Bookbinder

Suffolk University Law School

Anne Bowie


Daniel Heffernan

Kotin, Crabtree & Strong, LLP

Sheila Hubbard

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

Susan Maze-Rothstein

Northeastern University School of Law

Elizabeth McIntyre

Greater Boston Legal Services

Janelle Ridley

Boston Public Schools

Sara Silva

Hogan Lovells

Janine Solomon

Massachusetts Advocates for Children

Vineesha Sow

Health Law Advocates, Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids

Marlies Spanjaard

The EdLaw Project

Asha White

Boston Municipal Court, Dorchester Division

To learn more about the Service Innovation Project, contact Ariana Gebauer, Public Service Programs Manager, at agebauer@bostonbar.org.

The Service Innovation Project is made possible through the Burnes Innovation in Service Fund, which was established at the Boston Bar Foundation in 2018 through a generous gift by Nonnie and Richard Burnes. The purpose of the Fund is to support Boston Bar Association projects that leverage the unique resources of the bar to develop and advance innovative solutions for addressing important problems in our community.



Do you think your school discipline rights, or the rights of your child, have been violated?

Contact Greater Boston Legal Services at suspensions@gbls.org or 617-855-9560.

Do you need an attorney for a school discipline matter? Contact:

Greater Boston Legal Services: 617-371-1234

EdLaw Project: 617-910-5829

BBA Lawyer Referral Service: 617-742-0625

For additional resources and information about education law, school discipline, and the school-to-prison pipeline in Massachusetts, visit the below websites:

Boston Education Justice Alliance

Boston Public Schools: Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline

Boston Public Schools: Opportunity Youth

Boston Student Advisory Council

Center for Law and Education

Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Law & Justice

Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts

Citizens for Juvenile Justice

Committee for Public Counsel Services: Youth Advocacy Division

Disability Law Center

Families for Justice as Healing

Federation for Children with Special Needs

Greater Boston Legal Services: School to Prison Pipeline Intervention Project

Health Law Advocates: Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids

Lawyers for Civil Rights

Massachusetts Advocates for Children

Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice: Parent Guide to School Discipline

Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance

Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee

MetroWest Legal Services: Children’s Education Advocacy Project

Northeastern University Institute on Race and Justice

Our Restorative Justice

Prisoners’ Legal Services


Youth Advocacy Foundation


Youth On Board