University of Virginia School of Law Establishes the Education Rights Institute

A new institute at the University of Virginia School of Law aims to ensure that all students receive a high-quality K-12 education and help schools understand how to address obstacles facing disadvantaged students.

The new Education Rights Institute, supported by an anonymous $4.9 million gift, is led by UVA professor Kimberly Jenkins Robinson, who will serve as the inaugural director. She formerly served as an attorney with the General Counsel’s Office of the U.S. Department of Education and represented school districts at Hogan Lovells, a law practice specializing in education research and strategies.

“We will be amplifying data and scholarship about opportunity gaps so that more educators, policymakers and the public understand the importance of addressing these disparities and helping schools and districts identify ways to close these gaps and deliver a high-quality education,” Professor Robinson said. “We also will be developing scholarship regarding a federal right to education, which would greatly improve educational opportunities and outcomes for students.”

The institute, Professor Robinson said, has a three-part mission:

  • Elevating scholarship about establishing a federal right to a high-quality education that prepares students to be college- and career-ready and engaged citizens.
  • Helping school districts understand their obligations to protect students’ civil rights under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin, and helping districts identify available federal resources available to fulfill their obligations.
  • Amplifying data and research about educational opportunity gaps and how federal resources could address those shortcomings.

Kimberly Robinson, an education law policy expert. and the Martha Lubin Karsh and Bruce A. Karsh Bicentennial Professor of Law, is also a professor in UVA’s Education School and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. She also serves as the director of the Law School’s Center for the Study of Race and Law.

Professor Robinson joined the faculty at the University of Virginia in 2019 after teaching at the University of Richmond and Emory University in Atlanta. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Harvard Law School.

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