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First, this Essay considers the existing federal legal framework for education litigation and particularly the idea that there may be a fundamental right to at least a minimally adequate education. Second, this Essay describes the situation in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina and the resulting confusion in the months following the disaster. This Essay relies on interviews with New Orleans public school administrators, teachers, and personnel, as well as employees of local and national nonprofit organizations. Because of the goodwill of all those working in the New Orleans schools, and because of the importance of maintaining a strong sense of community within the educational system and the City of New Orleans, the sources’ identities and their criticisms identifying specific players and schools have been withheld. Lastly, this Essay explains that exposing the lack of schooling for an unrecorded (but presumably substantial) portion of the school-age population could provide an opportunity to challenge the long-standing assumption that education is not a fundamental right.


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27 Mar 2023
72.1 kB



  • Subject
    • Education Law

    • Human Rights Law

  • Journal title
    • Harvard Law and Policy Review

  • Volume
    • 2

  • Issue
    • 2

  • Pagination
    • 407-417

  • Date submitted

    27 March 2023