Brenda Shum is director of the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law where she oversees litigation designed to guarantee that all students receive a quality education in public schools and institutions of higher learning, and to eliminate discriminatory practices in school discipline, school funding and special education.
In the wake of the 2007 Parents Involved decision, the Educational Opportunities Project has also taken a leading role in developing strategic ways to implement constitutionally permissible school assignment plans which value diversity in K-12 schools. Brenda works closely with other civil rights advocates to challenge legislators and the Administration to ensure that national education policy reflects a genuine commitment to the success of poor and minority students. Brenda oversees the Parental Readiness and Empowerment Program (PREP), which promotes parental involvement in education as a means to narrow the achievement gap between low-income, minority students and their more affluent, non-minority peers.
She graduated with honors from Lewis and Clark College and received her JD from the University of Washington School of Law. Before joining the Lawyers’ Committee, Brenda was a Lecturer and Clinical Instructor at the Youth and Educational Law Project at Stanford Law School, which works with disadvantaged youth and their communities to ensure access to equal and excellent educational opportunities. She supervised law students on special education and school discipline cases, as well as a myriad of policy research and advocacy efforts related to school funding, equal access to educational resources, access to mental health services and commercialism in the schools.
Prior to teaching at Stanford, Brenda was a project director at the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law where she provided training and technical assistance to judges, lawyers and social workers on child welfare issues. She worked to introduce best practices to juvenile court systems to reduce the amount of time that children spend in foster care.
Brenda has presented at state and national conferences on issues relating to state and federal child welfare law, courtroom testimony, and cross-system collaboration; and evaluated the administration of justice in abuse and neglect cases. She began her legal career as a staff attorney at the Juvenile Rights Project, the only law firm in Oregon dedicated exclusively to the representation of children. As a children’s attorney, she represented abused and neglected children in juvenile dependency cases, defended youth charged with law violations in juvenile and adult court and provided educational advocacy for students with disabilities.
Brenda has volunteered extensively to address poverty and disability issues and has served on the Board of Directors for Bradley Angle House, a domestic violence organization in Portland, Oregon, and Real Options for City Youth (ROCK), a youth empowerment organization in San Francisco.