In Memoriam: Stuart Biegel, Education Law Scholar and Teacher

April 9, 2019
Stuart Biegel

Stuart Biegel, a longtime member of the faculty at the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies and UCLA School of Law died on April 3. He was 73.

A renowned expert in the fields of education law and technology law, Biegel focused his scholarship and teaching on the intersection of technology, privacy and disability rights in both K-12 and higher education.

He began his career teaching elementary and secondary classes in public and private schools in Los Angeles. In 1985, he joined the UCLA Graduate School of Education, where he directed the Teacher Education Program (TEP). In the 1990s, he helped create UCLA Center X to train teachers in equitable methods that could transform public schooling. He worked with undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in GSEIS, and he began his tenure as a lecturer at UCLA Law in 1989.

As a pioneer in technology law and policy, Biegel was among the first scholars in the nation to identify the Internet’s potential in the law and education. His popular courses in the law school and the information studies department often centered on the impact of technology, including online regulation, future technologies and privacy. He was a longtime member of UCLA’s Advisory Board on Privacy and Data Protection and in the 1990s taught UCLA’s first course in the law of cyberspace.

A beloved teacher for generations of students, he won the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award in 2012. In the fall of 2018, he was honored by alumni of the UCLA Educational Leadership Program for his contributions throughout its 25 years in GSEIS.

“Stuart will be remembered as a gifted teacher, an incisive scholar, an important advocate for social justice in public schools — and as a kind, gentle, caring person,” said UCLA Law Professor Richard Steinberg, who was Biegel’s longtime friend and colleague.

Former UCLA Career Center associate director Albert Aubin recalls frequently speaking with Biegel about the challenges that technology would create for individuals and organizations. “Others had to tell me about his contributions to the field and his national renown because Stuart was one of the most humble people I have met,” Aubin said. “He was dedicated to his students in education and in law, and his commitment to his students and profession will certainly be missed.”

Biegel was also a prolific writer and speaker, publishing numerous articles on the law and education and organizing several major conferences that convened academics and practitioners in education and the law. His book Beyond Our Control? Confronting the Limits of Our Legal System in the Age of Cyberspace (MIT Press, 2001) won three awards, including Best Information Science Book from the Association of Information and Science and Technology. Another book, The Right to Be Out: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in America’s Public Schools (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), won the American Library Association’s Stonewall Book Award. And the fifth edition of the casebook that he wrote with Robert Kim and Kevin Welner, Education and the Law (West), was published in March 2019.

His extensive record in public service includes work as special counsel for the California Department of Education, as an independent state monitor for the U.S. District Court in an expansive case concerning the San Francisco public schools,  as a consultant to the City of Baltimore in a successful school finance lawsuit against the State of Maryland, and as a consultant for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the National Education Association on educational opportunity for marginalized and disenfranchised youth.

Biegel earned his bachelor of arts in English from UCLA and his California teacher credential from UCLA Graduate School of Education. While he worked as a full-time teacher, he attended and received his law degree from Southwestern Law School.

Biegel is survived by his sister, Elena Bazes of Ra’anana, Israel. A funeral was held on April 7. GSEIS and the law school will hold a joint memorial service later this year.

In lieu of flowers, Biegel’s family asked that donations be made in his name to the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

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