Asking PA Supreme Court to hear our Redistricting Lawsuit

Pennsylvania_s District 7
Map of Pa.'s 7th Congressional District
We filed an Application for Extraordinary Relief asking the Pa. Supreme Court to review our redistricting lawsuit because it presents an issue of immediate public importance. We believe voters deserve to have this case resolved in time for the 2018 primary election. We originally filed the case in June in Commonwealth Court, alleging the current U.S. Congressional map violates the Pennsylvania Constitution. The Commonwealth Court has partially stayed the case pending the outcome of a redistricting case from Wisconsin currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Challenging Federal Detention Center's Visitation Policy

Client and Family
Our client and his family
The Federal Detention Center of Philadelphia maintains one of the most restrictive visitation policies in the country for inmates being held while awaiting trial or sentencing. Our clients, and hundred of other inmates subject to this policy, cannot receive visitors except for immediate family members. This policy keeps many inmates from ever seeing their children, because any child visitor must be accompanied by an adult who is also an immediate family member of the inmate. The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, Allen Woods, has not seen his son in over a year due to this policy.  We are asking the Court to step in to declare this policy unconstitutional and require the Federal Detention Center to fix it.

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Law Center Promotional Video Premiered

short film
Law Center short film
Thanks to the generous support of two donors and our Board Communications Committee, we engaged Andrew Ferrett, director of "Philadelphia: The Great Experiment," to create a short film about our organization. The film covers our  near-50 year history of using high-impact legal strategies. You can view the film on YouTube or on the About Us page on our website.

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Thank you for being a part of our Annual Celebration!

Rise Up
Rise Up, credit Zivadin Katanic
Our sold-out 2017 Annual Celebration: Rise Up was a huge success thanks to people like you. We also want to thank our Board, staff, host committee, honorees, event planners, volunteers, Mayor Kenney, Tamala Edwards, Val Gay, Fringe Arts+La Peg, and everyone else who made the night possible. Through the event's text-to-give campaign, we raised nearly $18,000 toward our School Funding Lawsuit, which will be matched by a $15,000 contribution from Ken and Andrea Frazier. 

Head to our Facebook page for a photo album from the event.

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Ensuring Compliance with Extended School Year Settlement

Children in school
We filed a motion in federal court seeking to force the School District of Philadelphia to comply with a settlement agreement we secured earlier this year to resolve our lawsuit challenging the District's failure to provide individualized Extended School Year (ESY) services. Under federal law, many students with disabilities are entitled to ESY services during school breaks, such as summer break. In monitoring the settlement agreement, the Law Center learned that the district had not complied with some of these key notice and training requirements to ensure students receive appropriate and individualized service. We are asking the court to order the district to comply and to extend the terms of the settlement agreement by an additional year until December 31, 2020.

Parents who believe their children are not receiving appropriate services or who have not been given the opportunity to meaningfully participate in planning for their children with regard to ESY services should contact Lee Awbrey at 267-546-1313 or .

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Talking School Funding on the Pennsylvania Cable Network

Jennifer Clarke on PCN
Executive director Jennifer Clarke was on the Pennsylvania Cable Network on Sunday, October 8, to discuss Pennsylvania school funding and our School Funding Lawsuit. Joining her was Education Voters of PA's executive director, Susan Spicka. Her segment on "Focus on Education" is available to view online.

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Preparing Students with Disabilities for Life After School

Darlene Hemerka
Darlene Hemerka
Darlene Hemerka, Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, has launched her project to  provide limited legal representation, legal advice and know-your-rights trainings to families and caregivers of students with disabilities ages 14-21. The project is designed to ensure these students receive appropriate transition planning and services to help prepare the students for life after high school. 

For more information, or to learn more about upcoming presentation dates, head to our website.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Michelle Tolodziecki

Michelle Tolodziecki
Michelle Tolodziecki
Michelle started volunteering with us in May and left at the end of the summer to start law school at Temple. She coordinated and trained volunteers, including updating our volunteer training manual, and she helped us increase our capacity to utilize volunteers. Michelle even took time out from her busy schedule to volunteer for us again at our Annual Celebration. Thank you so much, Michelle! Of her time volunteering for us, she said, "
The Public Interest Law Center is an excellent place to volunteer. Of course, it is rewarding to know you had a part in the vital work being done, but beyond that is the satisfaction of putting your own skills to use, whatever they may be. You are in control of your own experience as a volunteer, and the staff members are truly grateful for your contributions."