On April 23, 2021 the Education Law Center submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission urging the agency to implement its newly adopted Emergency Connectivity Fund in a manner that will prioritize students who were most marginalized by lack of connectivity during COVID-19. We also urged the Commission to adapt connected devices to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities and English learners.
ELC staff attorney Hetal Dhagat addressed educational barriers that impact Black and Brown students, low-income students, students with disabilities, and immigrant and refugee students in testimony to the PA Senate Education Committee on April 23, 2021. She spoke at a hearing on K-12 education reforms in Western Pennsylvania, the last of three hearings that the committee has held for different regions of the state.
ELC’s testimony emphasized these issues:
- Prioritize mental health supports for students.
- Focus on supports to improve school attendance.
- Meet the needs of students with disabilities.
- Ensure that culturally and linguistically diverse families are supported.
- Ensure fair and equitable funding for public schools.
Read ELC’s testimony here.
ELC testified on April 8 in support of a recommendation to establish a Youth Ombudsman Office in the city of Philadelphia to receive and investigate grievances from families and youth who have been committed to privately run residential facilities by the behavioral health, intellectual disability, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems. Read our testimony here.
Education Law Center, along with a coalition of more than a dozen education advocacy organizations from across the commonwealth, has launched a campaign to increase state funding for the 100 most underfunded school districts in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has some of the nation’s widest gaps between wealthy and poor school districts.
Child advocates from across Pennsylvania sent a letter to the General Assembly in April 2021 advocating for a $200 million increase for special education funding in the 2021-22 budget and asking the legislature to close the charter school special education funding loophole.
Public school students in Pennsylvania will soon have their day in court. A Commonwealth Court order released April 1 tentatively scheduled a trial start date of September 9, 2021, in a historic lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s school funding system. [Note: The trial start date was ultimately pushed back to Nov. 12.]
Attorneys expect the trial to last several weeks. The trial dates will be set at a pretrial conference on June 21, the order said. Read the press release here.