Skadden Fellow Ruby Kish Joins ACNJ to Address Education Needs of Justice-Involved Youth in Essex County

Skadden Fellow Ruby Kish with her son at her virtual swearing in.Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) is pleased to welcome Ruby Kish, a two-year Skadden Fellow, who will be providing direct advocacy services to youth who are involved in the criminal justice system and require assistance with their educational needs. Ms. Kish will be working under the supervision of Nina Peckman, staff attorney, and Mary Coogan, vice president. Direct advocacy services include advocating for appropriate placement, evaluations and necessary accommodations and supports for justice-involved students with disabilities. She will also be collaborating with public defenders, prosecutors as well as agencies and organization representatives that assist youth including Partners for Children of Essex (the Essex County Case Management Organization), Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and Division of Child Protection Permanency (DCPP).

As part of the Skadden Fellowship, Ms. Kish will also be collecting data regarding the education needs and outcomes of this student population based upon information obtained through advocacy efforts. ACNJ looks forward to the positive impact this fellowship will have on individual youth as well as on current policies, education resources and long-term education outcomes for justice-involved youth in New Jersey. 

Youth with disabilities are disproportionately represented in New Jersey’s justice system, yet there are few resources available to assist these students in ensuring that they receive the free and appropriate public education they are entitled to. As the state embraces the goals of Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), with the focus on keeping students out of detention, there must also be a focus on ensuring school success. Providing advocacy services to students is one means of guarding against school failure and preventing recidivism and continued justice-involvement. 

For information regarding the education rights of justice-involved youth and for advocacy assistance, contact Ruby Kish at rkish@acnj.org.

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