Paving a Safe Path Forward
Marina Jeffries* has known what she wants to be when she grows up since 9th grade: she’s going to be a defense attorney.
(In middle school, she thought she might want to be President, but she’s figured out that as a lawyer she might get more done.)
And she’s already putting in all the work: she’s attending a college prep high school in order to challenge herself, and she did two academic programs, including one pre-law course, the summer before her senior year.
She is dedicated to making an impact, and her mother couldn’t be prouder. Ms. Jeffries has seen Marina work hard to manage her anxiety and depression while maintaining solid grades.
She shows up every day because she loves learning, and she has a goal to make. Being a native Washingtonian, and a Black child from Ward 8, the odds are already against you.Ms. Jeffries
Last winter, however, she faced a tremendous setback. In November, four seniors jumped her and a friend in the hallway and gave her a concussion. A security guard who intervened pulled Marina out of the fray by her hair.
Marina was treated for her concussion, but developed post-concussion symptoms including migraines and eye pain that would last for six months. Ms. Jeffries also saw the psychological impact the attack had on Marina – how it affected her mental health as well as her cognitive health. Marina had panic attacks going back into the building where it happened, and it exacerbated her anxiety and depression. Her grades started to drop.
Ms. Jeffries feared for Marina’s health and safety, and initial discussions with the school administration only amplified her concerns. The school had initially tried to force a mediation between Marina and the students who attacked her by threatening to pull the college credit she’d earned if she didn’t participate.
On top of that, after Marina returned to school, some of her teachers refused to take her post-concussion symptoms seriously since she still put in the effort to make it to class every day.
She did therapy at 8am in the morning so she wouldn’t miss class.Ms. Jeffries
Ms. Jeffries arranged for a meeting with the school to discuss Marina’s medical needs and build a safety plan, and then contacted Children’s Law Center.
“I was focused on helping make sure Marina saw her therapist, her concussion doctor and a neurologist while keeping up with school,” Ms. Jeffries said. “It was a huge help to have my attorney next to me in meetings with the administration to make sure we could handle everything between the two of us.”
Together, Ms. Jeffries and her Children’s Law Center attorney successfully advocated for the school to increase Marina’s accommodations to account for her post-concussion syndrome and developed a plan to help Marina safely attend school for the rest of the year. She is on track to graduate this year with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree – and be that much closer to making her future plans a reality.
*We always provide clients the option to change their names when sharing their story. Pseudonyms have been used at the family’s request. All other details are true.