The Inquirer reports on ELC’s fair funding lawsuit and its continued progress toward trial. Read more here.
WHYY reports on residency enforcement policies that disproportionately affect students of color, quoting ELC Legal Director Maura McInerney. Read more here.
The Sanatoga Post writes about the two dozen advocacy organizations that worked together to pressure Pennsylvania lawmakers to increase the money available for special education purposes. The article quotes ELC Attorney Reynelle Brown Staley. Read here.
The Notebook reports on ELC’s fair funding case and its progress toward trial, quoting ELC Legal Director Maura McInerney. Read more here.
Public Source quotes ELC Attorney Cheryl Kleiman on whether or not arming school personnel increases school safety. Read more.
ELC Executive Director Deborah Gordon Klehr is featured in Generocity‘s article on women leading public interest law organizations in Philadelphia. Read more here.
Triblive quotes ELC Executive Director Deborah Gordon Klehr on the legal implications in Pennsylvania of President Trump’s proposal to train and arm teachers with firearms. Read more.
WHYY quotes ELC Executive Director Deborah Gordon Klehr on Governor Wolf’s proposed budget. “Our children need more,” Klehr writes. Read more here.
ELC Executive Director Deborah Gordon Klehr writes about the bias in school discipline against students of color and argues that school suspensions in under-resourced schools often do more harm than good. Read more here.
Newsweek article cites ELC report highlighting how state underfunding of schools deepens inequity. Read more here.
Funding gaps between high-wealth and low-wealth districts are growing, and state funding for classroom expenses has declined over four years. Those are key points in our latest brief in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court case filed by parents, school districts, and two statewide associations challenging Pennsylvania’s broken school funding system. In May, the Court directed the parties to address the issue of whether the state’s adoption of an education funding formula in 2016 renders the case moot. Our brief, filed July 6, 2018, refutes that argument made by respondent Senator Scarnati. Affidavits detail the difficult conditions in our petitioners’ school districts, making clear that the state’s funding system has not been fixed. There’s more information in the News Release, and you can read the case documents here.
ELC has long advocated for alternatives to out-of-school suspensions of young children; they are not age-appropriate and do not make schools safer. Suspensions of kindergartners were banned in Philadelphia in 2016. The District’s School Reform Commission in June 2018 formally changed the School District’s student conduct and discipline policy, extending the existing ban on out-of-school suspensions to cover grades 1 and 2. This means that students in those grades cannot be suspended unless it is shown that their behavior resulted in serious bodily injury. Read our release here.
Pennsylvania has an on-time budget for 2018-19, approved by the legislature and signed by Gov. Wolf on June 22. It provides modest but needed new funding for Pennsylvania’s schoolchildren. While the additional dollars for schools help, this budget increase provides only a small fraction of what is needed for an adequately and equitably funded statewide public education system. The heavy lifting is still needed as urgently as ever to address shortfalls in school funding across the state. Read more here.
View Section 504 Factsheet to learn about what a parent can do if their child has a health problem that requires accommodations in school.
On May 7, 2018, the Commonwealth Court overruled objections filed by state legislative leaders and moved our school funding lawsuit closer to trial. Read about the Court’s decision and our next steps for resolving underfunding and gross inequalities in Pennsylvania’s schools.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has significantly broadened its corrective action in response to ELC’s administrative complaint alleging that the School District of Philadelphia denied young children with disabilities timely evaluations and special education services upon transitioning to Kindergarten or First Grade. In its prior Complaint Investigation Report (“CIR”) PDE required the District to determine whether it denied any child’s right to receive mandated services during this critical transition, and if so, to issue compensatory education to make up for lost services. At ELC’s urging through a Request for Reconsideration, PDE agreed to verify the accuracy of the District’s determination that 170 children had been denied services with a random file review. Recently completed, that review disclosed that the District failed to identify a significant number of students who were denied special education services. In response, PDE has now expanded its investigation to include an additional 1,795 students with disabilities who transitioned to school last fall to ensure that all children receive needed make-up services. ELC will continue to press PDE to ensure every child receives relief. The District is also required to obtain PDE approval for a new procedure to prevent recurring violations this upcoming fall. You can read the complaints filed by Independence Foundation Law Fellow Sean McGrath and PDE’s Investigation Reports here.
The Education Law Center submitted testimony to a March 15, 2018, Pennsylvania House Education Committee hearing on school safety. We urge officials to reject militarized responses to school violence and to focus instead on strategies to foster a school climate that is supportive of all students and attentive to students experiencing trouble or trauma. The hearing comes one day after thousands of students joined the National Student Walkout, calling for action against gun violence. Read our testimony here.
On Wednesday, March 14, students nationwide participated in a National School Walkout to show solidarity with Parkland students and bring attention to Congress’s inaction towards gun violence. View our National School Walkout Fact Sheet to learn more about this walkout and what your rights are as a student in Pennsylvania.
Not even a snowstorm could halt the momentum of ELC’s Fair Funding Lawsuit, as advocates from ELC, PILC, and pro bono counsel O’Melveny and Myers argued today that objections filed by the defendants were without merit and should be dismissed, allowing the case to move to discovery and trial. Details, including links to news coverage of the oral arguments, are here.
Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court will hear oral arguments next Wednesday in a landmark lawsuit challenging inequitable and inadequate school funding in Pennsylvania. Attorneys from the Education Law Center and the Public Interest Law Center will ask the Court to reject remaining preliminary objections and a motion to dismiss asserted by the legislature so that the case can proceed directly and promptly to trial. Read the News Release here.