Atlanta lawyers step in to address students' living conditions
- A partnership between an elementary principal and the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Association is reducing turnover at a low-performing school in the city, according to CBS News.
- Most of the students at Thomasville Heights Elementary live in a public housing development across the street from the school, and families were either frequently being evicted or being forced to leave because of poor living conditions, the lawyers found. In one family, for example, children were often sick because of mold in their apartment.
- The association placed a tenant rights lawyer in the front office of the complex to get repairs completed, help families avoid eviction, and settle conflicts between residents and the management — and turnover at the school has since dropped from 40% of the students to 25%.
Thomasville Heights is another example of the strong link between students’ living situations and their performance in school. Multiple studies show that frequent school changes and chronic absenteeism can negatively impact student attendance, performance and behavior. High mobility rates can also have an adverse effect on the students in a school who don’t move.
Efforts to address housing-related issues for families, however, are increasing with networks such as HousEd. Apartment-based after-school programs, on-site healthcare and connections to other services can improve family well-being and improve outcomes for children. Families that don’t qualify for housing assistance also face similar challenges, which is why some say that for-profit landlords should also make efforts to stabilize communities and improve schools around the properties they own.
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