In response to a motion filed by ELC, the Third Circuit has re-issued its opinion in G.S. vs. Rose Tree Media School District as precedential, which means that the Court’s opinion can be used to support arguments in similar cases in other courts. ELC filed the motion following a positive ruling which marked a major victory for students living “doubled-up” who are often under-identified as homeless by schools. The Court’s ruling held in part that the McKinney-Vento Act “does not impose a limit on the duration of homelessness” and schools cannot unilaterally declare a child ineligible when the child’s circumstances remain unchanged.
The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, Homeless Children’s Education Fund, and People’s Emergency Center joined ELC in filing the motion. The Third Circuit is the first federal appellate court to address the educational provisions of the McKinney-Vento Act. Thank you to our pro-bono partners at Morgan, Lewis, and Bockius LLP for their assistance on the initial amicus brief filed in this case.
The Education Law Center (ELC) filed comments strongly opposing the Department of Education’s (DOE) proposed rules regarding Title IX investigations. The proposed rules would protect schools from liability at the expense of the students who are most likely to experience sexual harassment: 78% of LGBTQ K–12 students in Pennsylvania are harassed on the basis of their sexual orientation, 58% on the basis of their gender expression, and 52% on the basis of their gender; 60% of Black girls are sexually harassed before the age of 18; 56% of students ages 14-18 who are pregnant or parenting are kissed or touched without their consent; and students with disabilities are 2.9 times more likely than their peers to be sexually assaulted.
“Unfortunately, the Education Law Center often has to push schools to take any action in the face of a student’s harassment allegations,” said Lizzy Wingfield, ELC’s Stoneleigh Foundation Emerging Leader Fellow. “These proposed rules would actually lower schools’ obligations under Title IX and make it harder for advocates to ensure student safety is taken seriously. ELC urges the Department of Education to withdraw the proposed rules and instead focus its energies on enforcing the existing Title IX requirements to ensure schools promptly and effectively respond to sexual harassment.”
You can read our comments here.
This column by ELC legal director Maura McInerney and Juvenile Law Center staff attorney Kate Burdick highlights the urgent need to address harmful practices in Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice and child welfare residential facilities. Two recent reports laid out the harm being done to children in these placements – and proposed needed reforms, including bringing children back to their communities. The column was published by WHYY.
In January 2019 testimony about English learners to the Philadelphia school board’s Student Achievement and Support Committee, Education Law Center Legal Director Maura McInerney brought attention to reductions in ESL instruction and support, barriers to special education evaluations and services, the failure to provide interpretation and translation services, and lack of access to special admission schools and post-secondary college and career readiness support. Read her testimony here.
ELC also joined with partners to submit a formal letter to the committee requesting a separate hearing focused exclusively on EL students. Read the letter here.
Following on our October report, “Shortchanging Children with Disabilities: State Underfunding of Special Education in Pennsylvania,” the Education Law Center wrote Gov. Tom Wolf in January, urging that his 2019-20 budget proposal include a $400 million increase in state funding for basic education and a $100 million increase in special education funding, to be distributed to districts through the existing funding formulas. Read our letter, press release, and news coverage.