Partnership with American University to Provide Constitutional Law Course for Students at John F. Kennedy High School

April 10, 2000
John F. Kennedy High School will offer constitutional law instruction to students beginning next fall as the result of a new partnership with American University in Washington, D.C.

American University's Washington College of Law (WCL) has agreed to form a partnership with Kennedy High School as part of the college's Marshall-Brennan Fellowship, which is designed to teach constitutional rights and responsibilities in area high schools.

The announcement was made yesterday (Sunday, April 9) by Michael Subin, president of the Montgomery County Council, during the rededication ceremonies of the newly modernized facilities for John F. Kennedy High School. Mr. Subin credited the school's principal, Dr. Sheila Dobbins, for bringing the partnership to Kennedy High School.

The Marshall-Brennan Fellowship, named for former Supreme Court Justices Thurgood Marshall and William Brennan, is a component of WCL's Program on Law and Government, which focuses on public interest projects that serve the community. Through the fellowship, a core group of about 30 upper-level American University law students, selected for their excellence at constitutional law and their commitment to young people, has been teaching a class called "We the Students" at 10 high schools in Washington, D.C. The partnership with Kennedy High School is the first such effort outside the District.

"We're very eager to bring the program into Montgomery County, and especially to John F. Kennedy High School, " said Jamin Raskin, WCL law professor and co-director of the Program on Law and Government.

Starting in September 2000, Kennedy High School will offer up to four classes, each with the same content but taught by different law students. Each class will meet several times a week.

The objective of the class is to produce constitutional literacy through detailed instruction about the Constitution and Supreme Court, focusing on the 30 most important Supreme Court cases affecting high school students-those involving topics such as drug testing of student athletes, locker searches, censorship of student publications, sexual harassment, desegregation, and affirmative action-and inviting students to consider the way lawyers feel about the cases.

Students will read the actual Supreme Court cases, then engage in a series of moot courts, discussions and public service exercises designed to provide hands-on experience. They may include, for example, helping draft a sexual harassment policy if a school doesn't have one, or writing a constitution for the student council. Field trips including the Supreme Court also are part of the class.

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