Education Law Center’s capacity to support public school advocates, organizers and lawyers is growing with the addition of Rachael Deane as the new Director of Legal and State Policy Support.

In her new position, Ms. Deane will provide legal advice and assistance to advocacy organizations and campaigns working on fair school funding and other education equity issues in the states, including: the impact of COVID-19 on schools; proposed state education budgets; reforms to school funding formulas; the need for school building improvements; and the lack of services for students with disabilities and English learners.

Ms. Deane will also focus on the impacts of education inequity on students of color and the diversion of public school funds to private schools through voucher programs.

Ms. Deane is a civil rights attorney with over a decade of experience in litigation and policy campaigns at the local, state and federal levels. Prior to joining ELC, she was the director of the Youth Justice Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Virginia, where she co-founded Fund Our Schools, a statewide campaign for public school resource equity.

While at the Justice Center, Rachael spearheaded policy efforts to reduce exclusionary discipline, reform school policing, end the school-to-prison pipeline, bring transparency to Virginia’s “shadow system” of alternative schools, and improve special education services for vulnerable students. In 2021, she was named a “Leader in the Law” by Virginia Lawyers Weekly.

“We are thrilled Rachael will lead ELC’s effort to provide legal support and assistance to our expanding network of advocacy partners on the front lines of the fight for education justice in the states,” said ELC Executive Director David Sciarra.

Ms. Deane’s new role is not her initial connection with ELC. The Legal Aid Justice Center is a founding member of the Partnership for Equity and Education Rights (PEER), a state-driven network fighting for education equity, an end to the ongoing divestment of public education, and racially just public schools. ELC convenes and supports PEER. At the Justice Center, Ms. Deane worked closely with Jennifer Doeren, PEER Director at ELC, to launch and support Virginia’s statewide coalition for full and fair school funding.

“In her new role at ELC, Rachael will be in a position to assist all the PEER states in their fair school funding campaigns,” said Ms. Doeren. “Because she knows PEER and the PEER partners well, she can hit the ground running. We’re looking forward to an amazing collaboration that will pay dividends across the board.”

Ms. Deane earned her B.A., magna cum laude, from the University of Mary Washington, and her J.D., cum laude, from the University of Richmond School of Law. Before turning her focus to education law, she was a fair housing advocate with the National Fair Housing Alliance and led statewide fair housing enforcement at Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, Inc. She is a member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc.


Press Contact:

Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Director
973-624-1815, x 24

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Press Contact:
Sharon Krengel
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications
973-624-1815, x240