COVID-19 School Closures: General Information

All children are entitled to a quality public education. ELC is working to support students and families in understanding their rights and assisting them in finding the help they need during the COVID-19 crisis. This resource contains general information for Pennsylvania families.

ELC’s COVID-19 Response 

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting school closures have reinforced the stark inequities facing children in Pennsylvania. ELC remains fully operational, working remotely to connect students and families with resources to help navigate this unprecedented crisis.

We will be updating these education-related resources to help the community respond to this crisis.

Find COVID-19 resources here.

Toxic Schools: What Parents Need to Know

Many children across Pennsylvania are suffering the health effects of attending underfunded schools. Deteriorating school buildings and cuts to staff have led to unmet repairs, deferred maintenance, and in some cases dangerous conditions in many school buildings. For example, in 2017 the School District of Philadelphia estimated that it will cost nearly $5 billion to address deferred repairs. The cost to our children is even higher. A Philadelphia Inquirer series entitled “Toxic City – Sick Schools” highlighted health threats identified in Philadelphia’s public school facilities. These threats included environmental hazards such as asbestos, lead in paint, mold and other asthma triggers. This is a guide for parents on these issues to understand their rights.

Pennsylvania School Funding Litigation: Frequently Asked Questions

The Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, Public Interest Law Center, and O’Melveny & Myers LLP have joined together to file a lawsuit on behalf of school districts, parents, two statewide organizations against legislative leaders, state education officials, and the governor. We are asking for a court order that will force the legislature to comply with the state constitution and ensure that all students receive access to a high-quality public education. The case is tentatively scheduled to go to trial in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court in 2020. Here are answers to common questions about the case.

What to Do When Your Child is Bullied or Harassed: A Parent’s Guide to Advocacy in PA Public Schools

Bullying and harassment are pervasive problems in Pennsylvania, the United States, and even globally. Students who are bullied are at increased risk of experiencing health problems, academic struggles, and more frequently drop out of school.

If the school knows that a current student is being bullied or harassed by another student at school, on school grounds, in school vehicles, at a designated bus stop or at any activity sponsored, supervised or sanctioned by the school, the school has a legal duty to investigate and take action to keep your child safe. The school should also provide your child supports and interventions when bullying or harassment occurs outside of school (including on social media) if it is substantially interfering with your child’s education or causing a threatening environment. This guide offers suggested steps to ensure the school fulfills these duties.

Read the Parent’s Guide.

Your Right to Be Free from Gender Identity Discrimination

This 2018 ELC Fact Sheet details rights of transgender and gender-noncomforming students, addressing access to facilities, expressing your gender identity, and the right to be safe at school. “Gender identity” is a person’s sense of themselves as a boy, a girl, both a boy and girl, or neither boy or girl.

Read here.

Immunization Fact Sheet

The Pennsylvania Department of Health’s immunization regulations require parents or guardians of students enrolled in grades K-12 to have their children immunized against various diseases in order to protect the health and safety of all students. ELC has compiled a fact sheet to help families navigate these requirements.

HB 97: Inadequate Charter School Reform

April 2017 – A responsible charter school law must empower local governing bodies to strategically control charter growth as a tool to increase quality options and improve our system of public education for all students. The charter school law should not force blind expansion on already burdened systems and compel the loss of neighborhood school options. HB 97 is deficient as it stands. This fact sheet focuses on the key problem areas of this proposed charter reform bill. For ELC’s full response to HB 97, see our letter to the House Education Committee sent on April 24, 2017.

Pennsylvania’s New Truancy Law (Extended Version)

Governor Wolf signed new truancy legislation into law on Thursday, November 3, 2016. This factsheet highlights important provisions of the new law relating to the rights of families, and obligations and roles of schools, courts, and children and youth agencies. Key departures from the prior truancy law are in red.

School Discipline in Pennsylvania

This fact sheet, updated in March, 2016, covers the basics of school discipline in Pennsylvania. This fact sheet applies to all public schools, including charter schools, in the state.