DeSoto East Students Learn From UNT Dallas-Law

DeSoto East Middle School School Students Learn about Law and Legacy through the UNT Dallas College of Law Joyce Ann Brown Innocence Clinic
Posted on 03/06/2020
UNT Law Student with Relatives of Joyce Ann Brown

 


DESOTO – In honor of Read Across America Week and the recently launched Read WOKE challenge geared toward increasing reading among secondary students, the DeSoto East Middle School library staff offered a select group of sixth-grade students the opportunity to learn about society, civil rights, government, and the judicial system through a visit from University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law representatives who work with the law school’s Joyce Ann Brown Innocence Clinic.

“The UNT Dallas College of Law is a public law school and it is ingrained in our mission to give back to our community. We feel that is our duty to not only educate the next generation of legal scholars and legal advocates but to educate and provide legal services to those who may be disenfranchised,” said Assistant Director of Experiential Education Professor Angela Downes, who helps prepare students for the courtroom and work with cases in the innocence clinic.

UNT Dallas College of Law student Laneshia Jordan, a public service professional who is in her second year of law school, facilitated the student session. She opened with the discussion about various careers, shared her path to becoming a lawyer and also the work that is done in the Joyce Ann Brown Innocence Clinic. Ms. Jordan also allowed students to discuss their thoughts around impactful topics such as gun violence, the influence of social media in society and to consider ways they could make their communities better.

This visit was extra special to the East Middle School library staff and students, especially EMS student E’Myia Davis, who is the great-granddaughter of the clinic’s namesake and a part of the newly formed library book club that is now reading and discussing Brown’s book, Justice Denied.

“When people honor my grandmother, it is a good thing,” said Davis who is proud of her great grandmother’s legacy. “I was not there when it all happened, but I still like people to hear her story so they can do good things.”

Davis’ grandmother, Koquice Spencer, the daughter of Joyce Ann Brown surprised everyone and attended the event. Spencer told the students about her mother’s story of wrongful conviction and imprisonment for over nine years and how she was eventually freed and exonerated. She spoke of the impact that it had on her life and how grateful she is for organizations like the Innocence Project which reviews cases and helps people understand their rights. 

“It is always a pleasure and blessing that my mom can be honored. My mom did a lot with junior high and elementary students and yearly, I travel and continue to share her story as she told it. I am glad to know that she has impacted so many and they continue to want to share her story.” 

The students were attentive and asked questions which made DeSoto ISD East Middle School Social Studies teacher Trevor Gregory excited.

“I think that it was important that students learn about the same rights that I teach in class. It is great for them to be able to make real-world connections with the curriculum.”

The visit was the result of the great-granddaughter locating the book written by Ms. Brown, during their teen library book club. The book was chosen to be read by the students along with others throughout the Read Woke Initiative that is in progress in libraries nationwide. The campus library did not have enough copies of the book on hand so Ms. Spencer donated eight copies of her mother’s book to the DeSoto East Middle School library.

About DeSoto Independent School District 

DeSoto ISD is a public independent school district serving more than 8,400 students and 1,000 employees. The district is comprised of 12 campuses serving students from early childhood through graduation. DeSoto ISD’s mission statement is preparing students academically and socially to be problem solvers and productive citizens. The district’s 2020 Strategic Plan focuses on individualized learning, quality teachers, equal access and relationships in an effort to provide a holistic and well-rounded educational experience to students and families in DeSoto, Glenn Heights, and Ovilla.

For more information about DeSoto ISD, visit www.desotoisd.org.