A Child and a Medical-Legal Partnership

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In 2015, a single mother of two took her infant son and first grade son to the baby’s well-baby visit at their local children’s hospital. The hospital houses a medical-legal partnership with their local legal aid. As the visit was scheduled on a Tuesday morning, the doctor asked the mother why her first grader was with her and not in school. The mother explained that the first grader had been expelled the day before for having a plastic, neon green water gun in his backpack at school.

The mother explained that the child had received the water gun as a prize at a birthday party the Saturday before and had taken it to show friends in the after school program he attended. However, because of the school’s “zero tolerance” policy on weapons, the boy was expelled from 1st Grade for 180 days for having the toy in his backpack. The doctor referred the woman and her son to the legal aid lawyer on site at the hospital supporting the medical-legal partnership. The legal aid lawyer reached out to the school on the child’s behalf. Within a day, legal aid had arranged for the child to return to 1st Grade without penalty.

Eleven medical-legal partnerships operate in Ohio ensuring healthy living environments, supportive education and good health for Ohio’s children and families.