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Aarti Kaur Sidhu, an esteemed education staff attorney at Disability Rights Maryland, passionately advocates for the rights of children with disabilities. In the challenging circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sidhu dedicated countless hours to supporting families of students with disabilities. 

Her tireless efforts have led to positive school discipline reform in local school systems, the Maryland State Department of Education, and the Maryland General Assembly through her work with the Maryland Coalition to Reform School Discipline. Sidhu's proudest accomplishment to date is her admission to the Maryland Bar, a testament to her unwavering commitment to justice and advocacy.

Her upbringing

Sidhu says that as a child of Asian immigrants, there were stereotypes about their perceived intellectual abilities and assumptions that their parents had exceedingly high expectations for their professional careers. But, this was not the case with her. In 1978, her working-class parents moved to Maryland from India with the sole purpose of providing a better life for themselves and their siblings. The only expectation their parents had for them was to do what made them happy.

Prior to joining Disability Rights Maryland, Sidhu was granted the prestigious Open Society Institute fellowship, where she dedicated her efforts to combating the injustices perpetuated by the school-to-prison pipeline. This harmful phenomenon sees students coming out of the education system and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems, with students of colour and those with disabilities being disproportionately affected. Driven by the Punjabi principle of "seva," meaning selfless service, Sidhu is deeply committed to reforming these systems and advocating for positive change.

Sikhs have been steadily gaining new positions and setting solid ground even in countries beyond India. The core values of equality, compassion, selflessness, and service have earned them recognition and respect in various fields around the world. Sikhs like Sidhu with a strong value system have become role models, breaking barriers and creating positive change in diverse communities, further solidifying their presence on the international stage.

 

*Based on an article published in The Daily Record on 9th June 2021

 

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