Claire Nilsen Blumenson, Esq.
Executive Director & Co-Founder
Claire has focused her career on the intersection of juvenile justice and education. After graduating from University of Virginia Law in 2011, Claire joined the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia ("PDS") as an Equal Justice Works Fellow. Through this two-year fellowship, sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, Claire provided post-disposition special education representation to youth ages 18–22 who had been placed in DC's secure juvenile facility.
Prior to working at PDS, Claire received her Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University, majoring in government, sociology, and psychology. Claire earned her Masters in Teaching while serving as a corps member of Teach for America in Brooklyn, New York. She taught third and fourth grade at Excellence Boys Charter School, part of Uncommon Schools, Inc.
Claire teaches a juvenile justice seminar at The George Washington University Law School and is an attorney admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Sarah Comeau, Esq.
Director of Programs & Co-Founder
Sarah graduated from American University’s Washington College of Law (WCL) cum laude in 2011. Prior to co-founding the School Justice Project, Sarah was an associate at a District of Columbia law firm that specialized in special education advocacy, representing students and families of students involved in both the juvenile justice and abuse and neglect systems. After graduating from law school, Sarah was awarded a JD Distinguished Fellowship at the Juvenile Services Program at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.
Sarah focused her law school career on indigent representation and the protection of civil and human rights. She was a student defense practitioner at WCL's Criminal Justice Clinic, a law clerk at a Maryland law firm that specialized in post-conviction representation, and an advocate for international human rights. Sarah received her bachelor’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communications.
Sarah is an attorney admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and an inactive member of the New York Bar. Sarah is a member of the District of Columbia Superior Court Special Education Attorney Panel.
Tayo Belle, Esq.
Senior Staff Attorney
Prior to joining SJP, Tayo was a Staff Attorney at Advocates for Children of New York representing individual students with special education needs through administrative hearings and in Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) meetings. Tayo was also an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where she advocated for statewide and local policies to address school discipline and safety issues. She represented public school students in suspension hearings and assisted with education related federal litigation. Tayo also led workshops on various topics including: what to do when a student with a disability is facing disciplinary charges, restorative justice alternatives to suspensions, and teaching parents to represent their child at a suspension hearing when they are unable to secure counsel.
During Tayo’s tenure with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco, she served as the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Fellow. She was part of the team that successfully challenged the Federal Railroad Administration to increase contracting opportunities for minority-owned businesses resulting in a nationwide change to the standard contract. Tayo also served as a legal intern for the Honorable Ann Williams, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago and at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in New York City where she worked on education issues. Prior to law school, Tayo was a Staff Assistant for United States Senator Robert P. Casey.
Tayo holds a B.A. in Political Science from The Ohio State University and a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law. Tayo is an attorney admitted to practice in New York state only.
Rachel Russo, Esq.
Rachel graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 2014. While in law school, Rachel interned at the National Juvenile Defender Center, the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, and the Office of the Public Defender in Baltimore, Maryland. During her final year of law school, she served as a student attorney in Georgetown's Juvenile Justice Clinic. Rachel focused her practice on youth committed to the District's juvenile justice agency and also served as a teaching assistant for a course on representing committed youth.
Prior to law school, Rachel volunteered with youth in foster care and students with disabilities, experiences that informed her decision to go to law school to focus on youth advocacy. Rachel earned her Bachelor's Degree in Art History from the University of Miami.
Rachel is an attorney admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland.