Demand for behavioral, legal services surge as CT children return to school

Demand for legal services from Connecticut families in selected cities rose 74% after children returned to in-person school, according to a report.

The report, based on families in Hartford, Waterbury, Bridgeport and New Haven, was produced by the Center for Children’s Advocacy (CCA)which aims to protect the legal rights of low-income children, while providing them with behavioral and other services that they need to thrive.

Chronic absenteeism persisted in urban schools prior to COVID-19, and it hasn’t gotten much better, said Martha Stone, an attorney and executive director at the Hartford-based CCA, a nonprofit.

Those back in school from remote learning are struggling with discipline issues, Stone said.

“We are representing kids on suspensions and expulsions, which really doesn’t help them because they’re out of school for 180 days sometimes.” she said. “We are representing children who have special needs.”

For example, CCA points to a 6-year-old who had been placed in a regular kindergarten classroom, despite having a significant behavioral health condition.

The report stated that the child frequently had disruptive behaviors in the classroom and his teacher, who was not trained in special education, resorted to making frequent calls to his parents to pick him up and remove him from school for the rest of the day. As a result, the student was missing school, and his parents were at risk of losing their jobs because the teacher was frequently calling them to the school.

CCA represented the child and officials said they got him transferred to a school that specializes in educating students with his behavioral health condition. The 6-year-old is able to stay in school for a full day, and his behavior and academic achievement have improved, officials say.

Stone said CCA’s legal teams are also working on alternatives to child arrests

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Lawyer disbarred after email faking death to Calif. attorney regulators

(Reuters) – An attorney in California has been disbarred after state bar officials pursuing ethics charges against him received an email falsely stating that he had died.

Donald Martin Stone of Winnetka, whose Oct. 1 disbarment was disclosed by the State Bar of California on Thursday, initially faced disciplinary action for failing to disclose that he had been convicted of stealing from a Sears department store in 1995.

Stone could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

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When approached by the state bar about his alleged failure to disclose his conviction, Stone said in a May 2020 letter that the matter had been vacated and dismissed, records in the disciplinary case show. He also said he was retired from practicing law and requested the disciplinary case be dismissed.

The bar moved forward with a hearing against Stone in July 2021, but he failed to appear. In September 2021, the bar received an email from an address that Stone had used to communicate with officials about the case indicating that he had died “months ago.”

Bar officials sent investigators to confirm that Stone had died, but instead found him living at a new address, according to a filing in the case.

The bar submitted a petition for disbarment in November 2021, which the California Supreme Court approved last month.

The case is In the Matter of Donald Martin Stone, No. SBC-20-C-30304, State Bar Court of California.

For California: Lori Flowers

For Stone: Pro Se

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