December 2018
A New Look at ELC: Watch this Short Video
We are excited to present our new video describing the work of the Education Law Center.

Please take a minute and a quarter to watch it … and use it to introduce your family, friends, and colleagues to ELC. You can help us raise awareness for our historic fair funding case and support the work we do on behalf of thousands of underserved children across Pennsylvania.

Share the link ( https://at.elc-pa.org/video ) or forward this newsletter! We appreciate your help.
And a Look Back at 2018
ELC had a productive year!

We made significant progress in our fair funding lawsuit, which challenges Pennsylvania’s school funding system as both inadequate and inequitable, in violation of our state constitution. Following the PA Supreme Court’s favorable ruling last year, we presented oral argument in March before Commonwealth Court, challenging a series of objections raised by legislative leaders. The Court ultimately dismissed these objections, ruling that case is not moot and setting a discovery schedule culminating in a tentative trial date of summer 2020. We will continue to work tirelessly on this vital case, while advocating for Pennsylvania’s children on other fronts.

In 2018, we spoke with more than 1,000 families and child-serving professionals who called our Helpline on behalf of underserved children across Pennsylvania who have been denied access to quality public education in a wide range of circumstances.
In Pittsburgh, we launched an inaugural "Push Out Cohort," a community of Black women leaders who work directly with cis, trans, and non-binary Black girls to advance education justice. In Philadelphia, ELC hosted a workshop in April featuring Dr. Jamilia J. Blake and Professor Rebecca Epstein, who presented on their groundbreaking 2017 Georgetown Law report, " Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood"...
Meanwhile, ELC continued to push for school districts to implement alternatives to exclusionary discipline and limit suspensions of young children, and both the School District of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Public Schools implemented a ban on suspensions in grades K-2 beginning in fall 2018…
ELC continued its advocacy to address the plight of children and youth in foster care and the delinquency system who are placed in institutions, often far from home, where they are often unsafe and receive an inferior education. We testified at a May Philadelphia City Council   hearing , where city officials committed to the goal of bringing children back to their communities. In December, we released a report , co-authored with the national advocacy group Children’s Rights, highlighting the dangers and profound educational deficiencies in Pennsylvania’s residential facilities. ELC was appointed to the City of Philadelphia’s Youth Residential Placement Task Force, which seeks to identify systemic reforms to address this issue...
We also continued our work fighting for the rights of LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming students. ELC released fact sheets on the right to be free from sexual orientation discrimination and gender identity discrimination at school, distributing those as part of our annual “ Back-to-School Guide ”…
ELC marked its 43rd anniversary in September at our Annual Celebration, honoring education advocates GSK, The Attic, Kevin Bethel, and Dechert LLP pro bono counsel Amy Ufberg, Marissa Tribuiani, and Michelle Nguyen. Thanks to all who attended and celebrated the hard work ELC and the honorees have done advocating for Pennsylvania school children…
Our October report “ Shortchanging Students with Disabilities ” has garnered coverage in more than 20 media outlets statewide. The report highlighted that state special education appropriations are lagging behind rising local special education costs, making it difficult for schools to fairly and adequately serve the needs of students with disabilities…

In a decisive 8-1 “no” vote in October, the board of Pittsburgh Public Schools honored the requests of advocates, parents, and students by rejecting a  proposed policy  that would have allowed school police officers to carry guns in Pittsburgh schools. ELC joined 70 others in testifying against the proposal...

Continuing our advocacy on behalf of students experiencing homelessness, we filed an amicus brief in a successful Third Circuit appeal on behalf of a child living “doubled up” and denied access to school. We also filed a successful state complaint on behalf of two older students with disabilities experiencing homelessness who were not assigned “surrogate parents” to represent them in the special education process. These students suffered severe educational consequences, including forced graduation. As a result of our advocacy, the School District of Philadelphia was ordered to create a new system for assigning and tracking surrogate parents, and the state was ordered to issue specific guidance to all districts on their legal duty to ensure prompt appointment of surrogate parents to all unaccompanied homeless youth...

ELC also made gains on behalf of our youngest learners. In response to ELC’s state administrative complaint, the PA Department of Education ordered the School District of Philadelphia to develop a new procedure for the over 900 children with disabilities who transition from early intervention to school-age services each year. The complaint resulted in individual awards of compensatory education services for over 170 of the 450 children who failed to receive prompt re-evaluations...
In November, ELC partnered with Pittsburgh’s City Theatre, hosting a post-performance discussion following a show of the critically acclaimed Pipeline , written by MacArthur “genius” award-winning playwright Dominique Morisseau. More than 250 people attended the play and talk-back, co-led by ELC, which focused on the school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately impacts students of color…

ELC and our school funding advocacy partners launched PA Schools Work , a new statewide campaign for fair and adequate school funding. The campaign hosted hundreds of community leaders at eight sites across Pennsylvania in a November summit designed to ramp up the statewide movement demanding more state funding for public schools...
Culminating years of advocacy by ELC and its community partners, Pittsburgh Public School Board unanimously passed a new policy in December protecting and expanding the rights of limited-English-proficient students and families...

Throughout the year, ELC also filed many due process requests and state administrative complaints on behalf of students with disabilities that resulted in favorable settlements. We represented families in truancy court and in administrative proceedings regarding residency, school transfers, and expulsions.
Looking ahead to 2019, ELC is determined to make further gains on our priorities: fighting for fair funding, ensuring equal access to quality education, and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline. We appreciate your commitment and support of ELC! Please consider a year-end donation to advance our work . Thank you! Happy holidays!
Happy holidays from all of us at ELC!
Education Law Center | 215-238-6970 (Philadelphia)| 412-258-2120 (Pittsburgh)|
A copy of the official registration and financial information of the Education Law Center may be obtained from the Department of State by calling toll-free, within Pennsylvania, 1-880-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.