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    03.01.11 Michael Mastrangelo '11 Receives Equal Justice Works Fellowship to Advocate for Education Rights of Children
    Michael Mastrangelo

    Michael Mastrangelo ’11 has been awarded an Equal Justice Works (EJW) Fellowship. Beginning in the fall of 2011, he’ll be a Fellow for two years at the Children’s Law Center. No stranger to the Center, Mastrangelo also interned in both the Brooklyn and Bronx locations, assisting attorneys representing children in custody, visitation, and guardianship proceedings in Family Court.

    The EJW Fellowship is a highly competitive postgraduate legal fellowship that places new lawyers in two-year assignments at nonprofit public interest organizations to implement projects that address pressing community needs. The Children’s Law Center is a nonprofit law firm that represents children of custody, visitation, guardianship, domestic violence, and connected child protective proceedings.

    Mastrangelo is an Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Fellow and was also a BLSPI Fellow. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, he was a middle school teacher for three years teaching 6th and 7th grade English at Frederick Douglass Academy III in the South Bronx before he came to Law School.

    “I was attracted to the Equal Justice Works Fellowship because it gave me the opportunity to design a project directly connected to my motivation behind pursuing a legal career,” Mastrangelo said. “As a teacher, I became aware of the educational obstacles that many of New York’s young people face and chose to pursue a legal career to help address these challenges.”

    Implementing a project of his own design, he will be securing educational entitlements for disabled children embroiled in contested family court litigation who, he points out, are at risk of academic failure due to their inability to obtain the disability accommodations and services to which they are entitled. As directed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Mastrangelo will represent these children while working with appropriate community entities and coordinating education and legal advocacy services. Due to lack of resources and an overburdened school system, many schools are not adequately providing these legally entitled services. As a result, many children are falling behind in school. Of his project he says, “it will enable CLC to ensure that these children receive the academic services to which they are legally entitled, while simultaneously giving them a voice in family court.”

    Professor Cynthia Godsoe, who helped Mastrangelo with his application said, "Michael's fellowship will fill a large unmet need in providing educational representation for many of the city's most vulnerable children. And Michael is the ideal person to do this work--his experience as a teacher, his expertise in education law, and dedication to helping at risk families makes him the perfect advocate for these children.”