March News: Victory for students in Lancaster, ELC report on school funding, and more
Victory! Lancaster Schools will settle case with ELC and ACLU, giving immigrant students access to appropriate education 
A nine-month legal battle over the placement of newly-arrived older immigrant students, mostly refugees, in the School District of Lancaster is ending with a comprehensive settlement.

Maura McInerney, Senior Staff Attorney at ELC, said that the resolution is "
an important advancement for English language learners across the Commonwealth who have a right to an equal and meaningful education that supports them to effectively overcome language barriers."

The ACLU of Pennsylvania, Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, volunteer counsel from the law firm of Pepper Hamilton, and University of Pennsylvania law professor Seth Kreimer filed the federal civil rights, class-action lawsuit in July 2016 on behalf of six refugees from Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burma.
New ELC report describes racial, class inequities in Pennsylvania education system 
As the General Assembly debates next year's education budget, the Education Law Center released a report this month highlighting how persistent state underfunding of schools has entrenched widespread inequities and inequalities, particularly in schools that serve lower-income families and large numbers of students of color.

The report, entitled "Money Matters in Education Justice: Addressing Racial and Class Inequities in Pennsylvania's Public School System," finds that school districts across the Commonwealth suffer from persistent funding shortfalls that make it impossible for them to provide their students with basic and essential resources and supports they need to succeed academically.
Pro bono attorneys and ELC secure Commonwealth Court victory for families in school enrollment case  
ELC and pro bono counsel from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP won a significant appellate victory in a residency case when the Commonwealth Court reversed a decision that had disenrolled two young children from their neighborhood school. Although the children lived with their mother and grandmother, the District claimed they were not residents and banned them from attending school -- requiring them to sit out of school or relocate to another district.

In Whitaker-Reid, M. v. Pottsgrove SD (371 CD 2016) the Commonwealth Court held that the School Board's adjudication of non-residency was not supported by substantial evidence. By establishing a clearer evidentiary standard, the decision significantly advances the rights of other students who are subjected to disenrollment based on allegations of non-residency.

ELC is very grateful to Richard Shephard and Evan Jacobs of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP for their exceptional work as pro bono counsel in this matter!

ELC applauds U.S. Supreme Court decision benefiting students with disabilities 
Education Law Center applauds the Supreme Court for strengthening the rights of children with disabilities and upholding the promise of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in this month's decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. ELC signed an amicus brief in the case along with dozens of civil rights organizations, disability advocates, and parent groups, urging the Court to adopt a higher standard for educational programs for these vulnerable students.
In a unanimous ruling, the Court rejected the notion that schools need only provide an education that is "merely more than de minimis" and held that an individualized education program must be " appropriately ambitious" and calculated to enable children to make meaningful progress "in light of their individual circumstances."  The ruling is a significant win for students.
ELC featured in "Education Equity" video
A new video from WITF/PBS and Keystone Crossroads describes the alarming difference a student's ZIP code can make on the quality of her education. ELC Executive Director Deborah Gordon Klehr was featured in the video alongside a number of ELC's partner organizations and members of the statewide Campaign for Fair Education Funding. 
ELC calls for state hearing on racial opportunity gaps and school funding
ELC joined Susan Spicka of EducationVotersPA and Barbara Simmons of the Black Women's Leadership Council in criticizing State Senate Education Chair Eichelberger's recent comments about placing "inner city" students in "a less intensive track" in their schooling. "Inner city" historically has been code for students of color. In light of these recent comments and the continued inequity of Pennsylvania's school funding system, we've sent a letter asking the Senate Education Committee to hold a hearing about racial opportunity gaps and their origins, racial tracking, and the disproportionate impact of under-funding on our state's students of color. 
ELC responds to state legislation pushing guns in schools
ELC has written to the state's Senate Education Committee opposing SB 383, a bill permitting school personnel to carry concealed firearms in schools. While ELC shares the desire to protect students and ensure schools are safe places, arming teachers and other school personnel is not the appropriate way to do so.
ELC and partners to be honored at Philadelphia Public School Notebook celebration
At this year's "Turning the Page for Change" annual fundraiser, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook will recognize the lawyers from ELC, the Public Interest Law Center, and O'Melveny & Myers working on a statewide education funding lawsuit. The case was filed o n behalf of six school districts and six parents, alleging that the state is abdicating its constitutional responsibility to "support and maintain a thorough and efficient system of public education" for all of Pennsylvania's schoolchildren. The event will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 6, at the University of the Arts.
What we're reading...
  • An article in Newsworks WHYY that describes the Philadelphia School Reform Commission's frustration with inadequate state funding for education. 
  • A video in Education Week interviewing teacher and school shooting survivor John Moffet on his view that guns have no place in schools. 
  • A phone-friendly quiz on Pennsylvania's public education system. Can you get every answer? (If so, we're hiring!)
  • An Op-Ed from Harold Jordan of the ACLU of Pennsylvania arguing that investing in school support staff - not arming school police - is the best way to create safe schools.
Join the Campaign for Fair Education Funding
Alongside more than 50 organizations across Pennsylvania, Education Law Center is a leading member of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. Click below to read more about our efforts to ensure that every student has access to a quality education no matter where he or she lives.
United Way Donor Choice Code: 1873 (Southeastern PA)

A copy of the Education Law Center's official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.  
Ensuring access to a quality public education for all children in Pennsylvania
Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   View our profile on LinkedIn