Michaele Turnage Young

Michaele N. Turnage Young serves as Senior Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (“LDF”), where she litigates education cases.

Ms. Turnage Young serves as counsel in Arnold v. Barbers Hill Independent School District, wherein the Court enjoined enforcement of a dress code provision that would have confined students who wore uncut locs to in-school suspension and excluded them from school activities. The Court’s decision, which recognized LDF’s clients’ likelihood of success on their race discrimination, sex discrimination, and freedom of expression claims, has led multiple school districts to revise their dress codes to remove discriminatory language.

Ms. Turnage Young also represents 25 Harvard student and alumni organizations as amici curiae in SFFA v. Harvard, wherein she co-authored briefs arguing that the court should uphold settled law allowing universities to consider race, as one of many factors, in admissions so that universities can assemble diverse student bodies and students can enjoy the educational benefits of diversity.  Ms. Turnage Young also represents amici curiae in the lawsuits concerning the admissions processes for the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Northern Virginia and for the magnet middle schools of Montgomery County, Maryland.  In addition, Ms. Turnage Young represents thousands of Black children and their parents in school desegregation cases in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana.  Since the onset of the pandemic, Ms. Turnage Young has advocated for schoolchildren to receive meals and instruction, leading thousands of students to begin receiving meals and instruction.  Ms. Turnage Young has discussed her work on MSNBC, the CBS Evening News, the BBC World News, CSPAN, and Pod Save the People, among others. 

Prior to joining LDF in 2017, Ms. Turnage Young served as a Trial Attorney with the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.  There, she prosecuted 13 school desegregation cases in seven federal court jurisdictions across the country. Her efforts led school districts to desegregate their students and faculties, equalize access to course offerings, equalize their facilities, transform their discipline practices, and dramatically reduce the amount of instructional time students lost to exclusionary discipline. Ms. Turnage Young received the Attorney General’s Special Achievement Award in recognition of her work advancing educational equity.

Ms. Turnage Young clerked for the Honorable Joan B. Gottschall of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. She received her law degree from Harvard Law School, where she served as a student attorney with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and as an editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. Ms. Turnage Young earned her undergraduate degree from UCLA.

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