Baton Rouge Community College students facing barriers to employment due to past legal issues will receive relief under a new partnership between BRCC and the Southern University Law Center.
The agreement will assist DCCO students who need assistance with expungement services and provide their paralegal students with a learning environment tied to Southern Law School.
“We have a large number of students arriving with luggage and barriers,” said BRCC Chancellor Willie Smith. “They may have been incarcerated or have things on their record. In partnership with Southern Law School, they will have free expungement opportunities where attorneys will work with those clients and try to help clear those records so that they can be employed.”
According to Smith, the partnership is an effort to bridge the gap between people who want to join the workforce through the DCRO degree programs and local employers who are in desperate need of skilled workers.
Smith said students in any BRCC program will be eligible, free of charge, and any crime eligible for expungement is on the table.
“Some offenses may be lighter than normal, but may also be expunged by law,” he said. “I’m not saying murder is one of them or that sort of thing, but there are some crimes a little bit above the minor that students have on their records when they come in. They’re not able to work and these lawyers are going to help them with that.
Marla Dicerkrson, associate vice chancellor for innovation and strategic partnerships and initiatives at the Southern University Law Center, said BRCC students wishing to access the partnership can go through the college’s Workforce Development office. .
“It’s in conjunction with the BRCC and so they will have someone on their campus, the students will go through their workforce development office and once the student contacts the office we will be put connecting with the student through workforce development,” she said. “This particular partnership is for BRCC students, so those students will be screened by BRCC.”
In addition to assisting students in their workforce development efforts, the agreement will also allow students in DCBC’s paralegal studies program to gain real-world experience in their field.
Dickerson said the program will help students earn credentials so they can apply for the jobs they want after graduation.
“These paralegals will help us with the disbarment initiative as we host events to help prepare materials and follow the actual work experience process that they would do as paralegals,” she said.
While partnership benefits are open to any student in a BRCC program, Smith said the college will ensure that only students who meet their degree requirements will receive the delisting services benefit.
“You can’t just walk in, walk into the program to have your record erased and then you walk away,” he said. “We want to make sure that during this process we lean towards completion, graduation, passing, and then we can start working on delisting.”
Dickerson said the ultimate goal is to help Louisiana by preparing citizens for the workforce and providing high-quality candidates for those vacancies.
“We have several community colleges across the state of Louisiana and would like to see this model replicated in partnerships at other community colleges across the state and also just with workforce development in general,” she said. “We want to help and be part of the catalyst that helps the state of Louisiana not only end people with expunged records, but also employers who are looking for candidates who are able to access employment and be job-ready. for a career.
As for Smith, he said he wanted the partnership to illustrate that the DCNO is committed to creating space for students who may not have had many educational or career opportunities before.
“I hope this shows that once again Baton Rouge Community College is having a high impact on all of our students,” he said. “If you are a first generation student and you are older but coming back for some skills to revitalize your career or if you had a criminal record that prevented you from getting a job, the BRCC is mobilizing to be able to support all of our students in the community.