September 2018
Where Will You Be in Three Weeks?
The Education Law Center will celebrate 43 years of advocating for Pennsylvania’s public school students on September 26th at our annual bash in Center City, Philadelphia. Our event, which includes a cocktail reception, silent auction, and dinner presentation, gets bigger every year! We would love to have you join us – and our 2018 co-chairs Nina M. Gussack and Brennan Torregrossa – as we celebrate our 2018 Champions of Public Education: GSK, Kevin Bethel, The Attic Youth Center , and Dechert LLP pro bono attorneys Amy Ufberg, Marissa Tribuiani, and Michelle Nguyen . For more information about attending and to reserve your spot, visit
Big Win in State Funding Litigation: Case is Not Moot!
Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court on August 21 rejected a claim by legislative leaders that our lawsuit challenging the state’s school funding system was rendered moot by the adoption of a new funding formula in 2016.  This ruling  in  William Penn School District et al. v. PA Department
of Education et al.   is a big win, eliminating a key hurdle to a trial in the case.

ELC and our partners at the Public Interest Law Center filed the lawsuit four years ago, on behalf of parents, school districts, and statewide organizations, alleging that Pennsylvania's school funding system violates the state's constitution. Since then, we have overcome a series of legal challenges, now including a successful argument against mootness. We have requested a scheduling conference and hope to proceed to trial quickly.

This decision drew extensive news coverage from newspapers and radio stations in Pennsylvania and across the country , and positive editorial commentary as well.
Workshop series: Know-Your-Rights Sessions Held for Parents, Advocates
In partnership with the Alliance for Police Accountability, Disability Rights Pennsylvania, and PEAL Center, ELC launched a series of know-your-rights workshops for parents and advocates in the Greater Pittsburgh region. Hosted at the Braddock Carnegie Library, these workshops equip parents with rights-based information to be effective advocates to overcome the barriers students face in school, especially students with disabilities. This series launched with two successful back-to-school sessions in the past month. Watch our Facebook page for more information about upcoming sessions.
ELC Staff Attorney Cheryl Kleiman (center) presents at an Aug. 28 know-your-rights workshop in Braddock, PA.
ELC Issues Back-to-School Guide
Our Helpline is busy at the start of school! This is an important time of year to ensure that parents, students, and families are aware of their education rights. To that end, ELC prepared and distributed a Back-To-School Guide that addresses common issues around enrollment and discipline, while highlighting the rights of specific populations, such as students with disabilities, English learners, students in foster care, students experiencing homelessness, and LGBTQ students.
Pittsburgh Study Flags Racial Disparities and
School Pushout
A new report from our collaborators at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Race & Social Problems confirms that egregious racial disparities in school discipline persist in Allegheny County. The report reminds us that inequity in school discipline is prevalent across districts and requires systemic, race-specific solutions.

ELC joins the call to co-construct solutions along with students, parents, and advocates – and also recognizes that we must do more to address the multiple ways that pushout happens for students who learn at the convergence of race, gender, and disability. We urge education leaders, researchers, and advocates to join us in dismantling the race, gender, and disability disparities that persist in public education, beginning in early childhood, and ensure that our advocacy for education justice is as intersectional and multi-faceted as the students themselves. We thank the Heinz Endowments, Pittsburgh Foundation, and FISA Foundation for support of this work in Allegheny County.
Join PA Schools Work , A Statewide Campaign
for Fair Funding
PA Schools Work, launched earlier this year, is a non-partisan grassroots campaign on behalf of Pennsylvania school children, calling on the state to pay its fair share and adequately and equitably fund public education. The campaign, a coalition effort to finally fix the state’s broken school funding system, already has more than 20 organizational partners, including ELC, and is looking for groups to endorse and for individuals to sign up as supporters. We urge you to read more and sign up on their website and then follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter .

Together, we can make PA Schools Work!
ACTION ALERT : "Call In" Sept. 5-6 to Support Education Success for Youth in Foster Care
Help us get HB 1745 , the Fostering Independence Through Education Act passed this Fall. The bill provides tuition waivers and other support for youth in foster care who attend state schools and community colleges in PA. HB 1745 was approved unanimously in the House but needs to be scheduled for a vote in the Senate.  Please call members of Pennsylvania's Senate Education Committee and ask them to schedule HB 1745 for a vote! Call committee members even if you do not live in their district and say: “Please support HB 1745, the Fostering Independence Through Education Act and schedule it for a vote in the Education Committee this session. ​​​Our youth in foster care should have an opportunity for higher education success and HB 1745 will make a positive difference in their lives.”
We Welcome New ELC Staff and Board Members
This summer we welcomed two new staff to ELC’s Philadelphia office, Margie Wakelin and TJ von Oehsen, and we said thanks and a fond goodbye to two fellows, Sean McGrath and Rabiyah Mujahid.

Wakelin, our newest Staff Attorney, focuses on litigation efforts to advance educational access issues for all students. She comes to us from Chicago, where she was a supervising attorney at Equip for Equality in Illinois. There, she led a multi-attorney team to represent students with disabilities in both individual and systemic educational matters and worked on statewide policy issues. Von Oehsen joins us for 12 months as a Haverford House Fellow. He is a 2018 Haverford College graduate whose work focuses on school funding and other state policy issues.

Joining our board are Karla Villatoro de Friedman and Adam Borrelli. Villatoro de Friedman, who lives in Pittsburgh, is general counsel at TriState Capital Bank and General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of Chartwell TSC Securities Corp. She serves on the executive board of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania. She was born in El Salvador and immigrated to the United States as a child. Borrelli, who lives in Blue Bell, is an assurance partner at RSM US LLP, focused on financial services and private equity. He is a certified public accountant and is vice-chair of the investment committee of the Genuardi Family Foundation. We welcome them both!
Employment and Internship Opportunities at ELC
ELC has full-time openings for a Staff Attorney in Pittsburgh and for a Paralegal/Intake Coordinator and a Director of Finance and Operations in Philadelphia.

For more information on these opportunities, please  see our website .
What We're Reading
Please join us on September 26th as we celebrate 43 years of ensuring access to a quality public education for all children in Pennsylvania.
Education Law Center | 215-238-6970 (Philadelphia)| 412-258-2120 (Pittsburgh)| Website