ELC Webinar on School Climate and Discipline for Youth in Foster Care

Join ELC for this hour-long webinar highlighting current best practices, policies, and tools that can improve school climate for all students, and especially those in the child welfare system.  The webinar was developed for educators, school administrators, teachers, and advocates, and guides participants through the Legal Center on Foster Care and Education’s new tool on school discipline.

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ELC Commends Feds on New Correctional Education Guidance

Dec. 11, 2014 –  The Education Law Center commends the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education on issuing new joint guidance on Correctional Education.

The guidance, released this week, not only encourages states to focus on prevention to reduce the number of children sent to juvenile correctional facilities, but also emphasizes the importance of providing high quality education to students while they are in those facilities.

“A key ingredient to success for a youth leaving a juvenile justice placement is the transition back to a traditional school setting,” said ELC’s Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow Ashley Sawyer.  “But, because of the grossly inadequate education many receive while locked up, the rate of successful transition is low and the rate of drop-out is high.”

The guidance reminds facilities that the same civil rights laws that apply to traditional public schools apply to facilities providing educational services. And these protections extend to all students, including students with disabilities. In addition, the guidance makes clear that students in juvenile correctional facilities, who otherwise meet eligibility criteria, are eligible for federal need-based grants for post-secondary education.

“Our staff at ELC has long-advocated for children in juvenile correctional facilities, including children with disabilities, who are legally entitled to a full range of educational services,” said ELC Interim Executive Director Deborah Gordon Klehr.  “Far too many children are sent to correctional facilities, and too often these children do not receive an appropriate education while in placement,” she said.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 44 other states and the District of Columbia have all reduced the number of children placed in juvenile correctional facilities, said Sawyer, who will work to ensure this new guidance is implemented in Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania is, unfortunately, one of a few states that has actually increased the number of students placed in juvenile correctional facilities,” she said.

Read the federal guidance.

Read the Washington Post article.


Pennsylvania schools sue state in bid to reform funding

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Philadelphia’s shift in discipline policy

Dec. 9, 2014 – By Dan Hardy, Philadelphia Public School Notebook – In the wake of the catastrophic Columbine school shooting in 1999, many school district leaders, politicians, and police summed up their response to school violence with two words: zero tolerance.

Infractions that once might have prompted a discussion of motive and intention instead often led to immediate, automatic suspensions, expulsions, and calls to police.

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Commentary: State needs a rational fix for its method of funding charter students with disabilities

Dec. 1, 2014 – by David Lapp, Education Law Center – Pennsylvania’s calculation for funding special education in charter schools is broken. In Philadelphia, special education tuition paid by the District to charter schools has doubled from $11,000 per student to over $23,000 per student in just 12 years. During the same period, special education revenue to the District from the state stagnated at under $5,000 per student.

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