Justin Gilbert was honored with the Mollie Burd Gavigan Service Award of the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee (DSAMT) on March 21, 2019. Gilbert, who has been devoted to improving the lives of children with disabilities was recognized for his work with this award.
As a senior partner in Gilbert, Scott, McWherter, Bobbit PLC, Justin Gilbert’s legal work focuses on education and employment law. As a father of four, Gilbert champions the rights of students with disabilities to be educated in the “least restrictive environment.” In a story in the Hamilton County Herald, Gilbert was quoted, “Many school districts now require kids with Down syndrome to be educated with their non-disabled peers, but there are pockets around the country that are still behind. Those are challenging cases, but kids with intellectual disabilities advance more quickly when they associate with non-disabled peers.” He fights each individual case to improve the educational experience of that child, but also to make sure that other students do not have to endure the same injustice. In the Herald story, he said, “In most cases, they see the higher purpose.”
Mr. Gilbert has fought for the rights of children with disabilities including federal court enforcement actions in Knoxville, Nashville and Chattanooga and he has established important case law before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on school retaliation and the segregation of children with disabilities.
The DSAMT website describes the award’s namesake: “Mollie Burd Gavigan was a dear friend and support to the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee and the Down syndrome community. When her daughter Jeanne was born with Down syndrome, Mollie was determined to provide her with a Catholic education. She helped to establish the Hand in Hand program for children with cognitive disabilities at Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville. Mollie was a strong advocate for the Down syndrome community, and her support greatly benefited DSAMT and its families.”
The Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee honor’s Mollie’s legacy by recognizing people who have provided outstanding service to the Down syndrome community each year. Members of the DSAMT and the wider community nominate an individual or group of individuals who have given their time and talents to improve the lives of individuals with Down syndrome in the Middle Tennessee region.
The Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee is a community on a mission to enhance the lives of those with “something extra” throughout their lives. There are no membership fees and they try to offer programs at low or no cost to families.
Justin Gilbert can be reached at Gilbert, Scott, McWherter, Bobbit PLC by calling 888.966.9731, or filling out this contact form. The Gilbert Firm maintains offices in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, Jackson and Knoxville, and advocates for clients across Tennessee and the Southeast.