Commonwealth Court dismisses school-funding lawsuit

April 21, 2015 – by Solomon Leach, Philadelphia Daily News – COMMONWEALTH Court yesterday dismissed a lawsuit accusing the state of failing to adequately and equitably fund Pennsylvania public schools.

The complaint was filed by six school districts, seven parents, the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools and the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference, who said they plan to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

“This is a question of paramount importance to all Pennsylvanians, and we always knew this would ultimately be decided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court,” Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia executive director Jennifer Clarke, a member of the legal team representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement.

The suit, filed in November, argued that former Gov. Tom Corbett, state lawmakers and the state Department of Education violated their constitutional obligation to provide all students with the opportunity to pass state-mandated academic standards. Oral arguments were held last month.

The ruling is the latest in a long line of Pennsylvania state court decisions affirming that school funding is a function of the Legislature and executive branch, and therefore not a matter for the courts.
Since the previous rulings, Pennsylvania adopted the Keystone exams as a graduation requirement and completed a costing-out study setting levels for what each school district needs to provide an adequate education.

Nonetheless, the court’s opinion, written by President Judge Dan Pellegrini, said those changes “do not confer funding discretion upon this court nor provide us with judicially manageable standards for determining whether the General Assembly has discharged its duty under the Constitution.”

Meanwhile, a group of Pennsylvania lawmakers is working to propose a fair-funding formula that would likely provide poorer school districts with a higher percentage of state aid and reduce funding to wealthier districts.

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150422_Commonwealth_Court_dismisses_school-funding_lawsuit.html#oLJoAGAH8KUEuRi3.99

Suit challenging school funding headed to top Pa. court

April 21, 2015 – by Kristen A. Graham and Martha Woodall, Philadelphia Inquirer – A lawsuit contending that Pennsylvania’s system of school funding is broken will move to the state’s top court, attorneys vowed Tuesday after a lower court dismissed the case brought by school districts, parents, and advocates. Continue reading

School Funding Case One Step Closer to Hearing by Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Commonwealth Court Refuses to Review Whether School Funding Complies with State Constitution

Harrisburg, Pa. – The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania today issued an order in the lawsuit challenging the state’s failure to adequately and equitably fund Pennsylvania’s public schools.  The lower court interpreted prior state Supreme Court precedent as eliminating any role for the courts in overseeing whether the legislature complies with the state constitution on school funding questions. Continue reading

Ten-Minute Teacher Survey about English Language Learners in Philadelphia

The Education Law Center is partnering with a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education to learn more about effective strategies and services to support English Language Learners in the School District of Philadelphia. The survey takes only 10 minutes to complete and will provide invaluable input into what is working and what services are needed to support students. The survey is designed to be completed by both ESOL teachers and general curriculum educators and can be accessed at: http://goo.gl/forms/WyHoS1gufk. All responses will remain confidential.

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