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.

ELC Fact Sheet : Act 26

Act 26 is a Pennsylvania law which requires the expulsion for at least one year of any student who possesses a weapon on school property, at a school function, or going to and from school.  Many students have faced expulsion as a result of this law. Review the complete fact sheet for more information.

ELC Fact Sheet: Education Decision Makers

The Education Law Center and Juvenile Law Center have developed a fact sheet to explain important educational decision maker rules, including Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Court Procedural Rules (Rules 1147 and 147) requiring judges to appoint an “Educational Decision Maker” for children who have no parent or guardian to make education decisions for them, or when a court concludes that appointing an EDM is in the best interest of a child.

In addition, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, school districts have a duty to appoint a “surrogate parent” for children with special education needs under specific circumstances.

ELC Toolkit: School Success for Students Without Homes

This collection of “tools” is intended to help parents and providers ensure school success for children and youth (ages 3-21) in Pennsylvania who are experiencing homelessness. The toolkit provides information about important laws and explains legal rights and how to use them.

ELC Fact Sheet on the Rights of Students Experiencing Homelessness

Youth who are experiencing homelessness have special rights under a federal law called the McKinney-Vento Act. This 2019 fact sheet provides detailed information and resources for youth experiencing homelessness regarding their education rights under that federal law. A sample complaint form is provided.

 

ELC School Enrollment Guide for Older Youth

This step-by-step fact sheet can help older youth enroll themselves in school quickly. It also provides contact information and the necessary forms for school enrollment.