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“She’s smiling more and has so much more confidence.”

Black grandmother and teen granddaughter smiling, posed with granddaughter's arms around grandmother.

Nevaeh* has never been this excited to go to school – something her grandmother, Ms. Black, couldn’t have predicted at the beginning of the year. 

Elementary school had been fine for Nevaeh. But when she came back to in-person middle school after the pandemic closures, Ms. Black saw significant changes. 

Nevaeh had become withdrawn and anxious. She had trouble concentrating and significant memory issues, unable to remember details from the family vacations they’d taken together a few years prior – even one to New York to see “Frozen” on Broadway.  

Other parents came to Ms. Black and told her they’d noticed something was wrong, that something had changed with Nevaeh.  

Ms. Black asked Nevaeh’s school multiple times for an evaluation, but – even as Nevaeh’s grades started to drop – they said that the counselor hadn’t seen anything wrong and wouldn’t do a full evaluation.  

“After they said she was okay,” Ms. Black explained, “I didn’t know I had options, didn’t know how to go about it. She never missed school – I took her to school every day – but it was very hard for her.”  

Things continued to get worse for Nevaeh, especially following her mother’s passing in 2022.  Ms. Black spoke to her pediatrician about Nevaeh’s symptoms and what the school had said. The pediatrician referred Nevaeh to a child psychiatrist, who recommended therapy for anxiety and processing trauma, as well as an advocate. 

While Nevaeh began therapy, Ms. Black worked with Children’s Law Center Staff Attorney Ashley Close to make sure Nevaeh would get the right support at school as well.  

Ms. Black should not have needed an attorney, but sadly it took an attorney in the room to get the school to take her request seriously.

Staff Attorney Ashley Close

“Ashley really met us where we were at. And the school suddenly showed interest,” Ms. Black said, “and put a team together after I’d been trying to get that for three years.” The school agreed to give Nevaeh a comprehensive evaluation that led to a 504 plan with accommodations so that her anxiety would be less of a barrier to learning.  

“Ms. Black should not have needed an attorney, but sadly it took an attorney in the room to get the school to take her request seriously,” Ashley Close said. “Once I got involved, we were able to work as a team to strategize ways to help Nevaeh succeed at school, developing a 504 plan with appropriate accommodations that will continue to support her in the years to come.” 

Between therapy and her extra support at school, Nevaeh is thriving. She just made honor roll for the first time, she’s gone up two grade levels in reading and she’s excited to start high school in the fall with her 504 plan in place.  

Ms. Black shared just how much it has meant to Nevaeh for the school to acknowledge her challenges were real and worth addressing. And it shows. 

“She’s smiling more and has so much more confidence. Before, she thought she couldn’t do it, and now she knows that she can.”    

*We always provide clients the option to change their name when sharing their story. Pseudonyms and a stock photo have been used at the family’s request. All other details are true.