Posted March 12, 20191:48 pm
Dinola Phillips, Esq.
Providing Access to Education for Children
Dinola Phillips, a graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Law, joined Legal Aid last year to help lead Legal Aid’s Access to Education program – an effort to provide families with school-aged children the legal support to ensure students can stay in and be successful in school.
Attorney Phillips sees her Legal Aid career as an extension of her work with CWRU’s “Street Law” program where she provided legal information and resources to incarcerated youth. Her expertise educated young people about Miranda rights, responsibilities when talking to authorities, and other relevant legal subjects empowering them with information that can keep them out of the criminal justice system.
Today, Attorney Phillips focuses on setting-up children for success by removing the civil legal barriers that interfere with a child’s ability to succeed in school. The Access to Education program hosts free legal advice clinics at CMSD’s George Washington Carver School and the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland. With Cleveland now a “Say Yes to Education” city, Legal Aid will continue to work to be where and when caregivers of school-aged children need legal help.
When asked why her work is important to her, Dinola said that, “people don’t realize the stress students have in their lives. I have seen personally how kids haven’t had full opportunities because of civil issues. If families knew about and had access to support resources, their children would have greater chances to succeed in and out of school.”
Recently, Dinola received a referral from a community partner regarding a family with guardianship issues. Without a resolution to the issue, the school would dismiss the student. “Through our work, we were able to determine the status of guardianship for the child, explain the guardianship to the family, and provide the household with proper documentation to submit to the school,” Dinola explained. “The school accepted the documentation and the child was not removed from class.”
When families don’t have to worry about fundamental issues related to their housing, safety, benefits, and health, they can instead direct their energy towards ensuring that their child succeeds. With the skills and passion of attorneys like Ms. Phillips at Legal Aid, vulnerable families in Northeast Ohio have a capable ally.
Legal Aid’s Access to Education program is generously funded by the Callahan Foundation, Thatcher Fund, Ginn Foundation and other generous individual donors.