Response to Rescission of Federal School Discipline Guidance and to School Safety Recommendations

The widespread problem of racial discrimination in school discipline is well documented. The 2014 federal discipline guidance from the Obama administration formally recognized that for the first time and challenged exclusionary discipline practices that disproportionately impact students of color and students with disabilities. A December 18, 2018, report from the Federal Commission on School Safety, led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has called for rescinding those guidelines. ELC’s statement in response said that a decision to rescind the federal guidance as recommended is bound to allow discriminatory practices in schools to proliferate.

Three days later, on December 21, the federal government proceeded to rescind the guidance, despite widespread opposition. ELC’s statement in response is here.

ELC Stands with Tamaqua Area School District Educators Opposed to Arming School Personnel

The Education Law Center-PA stands with the Tamaqua Area Education Association and many in the Tamaqua school community in eastern Pennsylvania in opposing their school district’s new policy allowing teachers and administrators to carry guns. ELC joined three other organizations in the filing of an amicus brief December 21, 2018, in support of the education association’s lawsuit to block this illegal and dangerous policy. Read about the brief here.

The presence of guns in schools and arming of untrained school staff pose significant safety risks to schoolchildren and communities and are not authorized by state law.  See the ELC statement on the new policy.

Trial in Pa. School Funding Lawsuit Scheduled for Summer 2020

In a breakthrough for efforts to fix Pa.’s broken school funding system, Commonwealth Court
has set a schedule for hearing the facts in William Penn et al. v. PA Dept. of Ed. et al.

December 6, 2018 – Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court released on Thursday a briefing and trial scheduling order in the lawsuit challenging the state’s school funding system. The trial is tentatively set to begin in summer 2020. Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer issued the order and will oversee the pre-trial proceedings.
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Fair Funding Lawsuit Goes to Trial Nov. 12, 2021

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has scheduled our historic fair funding lawsuit for trial with a start date of Nov. 12, 2021

All children in PA have the right to a high-quality public education. This isn’t just an opinion – it’s the law, written into the state constitution in the 1870s. But in PA, not every child gets the resources they need.

By failing to provide enough state funding, our leaders in Harrisburg have created a school funding system where the students who need the most get the least, simply because of where they live. Our leaders are severely shortchanging students in low-wealth school districts across the state, including where most of our Black and Brown students live. 

It’s wrong, it’s unconstitutional and our leaders in Harrisburg are responsible. That’s why we’ve taken the state to court.

We filed our lawsuit in November 2014, challenging the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s inadequate, inequitable school funding system. (Here is a short summary.) Seven years later, that case – filed on behalf of six school districts, two statewide associations, and several parents – is headed to trial.

Commonwealth Court Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer has been overseeing the pre-trial proceedings and will preside over the trial, which is expected to continue through the fall and into January.

The trial will take place in the Pennsylvania Judicial Center in Harrisburg and will be livestreamed (link to be posted here as soon as it is available).

Read more about the case here is a website devoted to the lawsuit jointly produced by the Education Law Center and our co-counsel, the Public Interest Law Center. It will be updated with daily highlights during the trial.

A chronology of the case and relevant court documents are on the Cases page of our website.

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