Georgetown sues D.C. over Street Law bills

April 2, 2009

Georgetown is suing the District of Columbia government for breach of contract, according to a complaint filed by the University with the D.C. Superior Court.

The lawsuit, filed on January 30, seeks $75,000 from the District for costs related to the Street Law program, a class run by Georgetown Law students in D.C. public high schools. The complaint names the District government, Mayor Adrian Fenty (D), and the District’s Office of the Attorney General as defendants.

“Georgetown is trying to resolve a contractual matter with the District of Columbia and has filed appropriate legal documents as a path toward doing so,” University spokesperson Julie Green Bataille wrote in an e-mail.
Street Law teaches students about their legal rights and has run in D.C. schools since 1972.
Georgetown is seeking reimbursement for the costs of classes run in the summer of 2006 and from October 2006 to September 2007. The University initially tried to regain $105,997, but reduced its demand when school officials said they could only reimburse Georgetown $75,000. Reimbursement has been complicated by the lack of a written order or contract between DCPS and the University, according to the complaint.

DCPS told Georgetown that this payment could only be made after a “friendly lawsuit,” according to the complaint. A friendly lawsuit is filed when the District admits its guilt, but cannot pay out money until a lawsuit has been filed.  The Office of the Attorney General declined to comment on whether it considers Georgetown’s suit “friendly.”

Charisma Howell, a fellow in Street Law’s high school clinic, would not say whether the program is running in schools this year because of the lawsuit. However, Street Law’s website continues to solicit volunteers for the mock trial tournament that is the culmination of each year’s program.

The attorney who filed the complaint, the Street Law program, and the Office of the Attorney General declined to comment for this story.

Georgetown-DC Public Schools Lawsuit

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