Oral Argument Set in Funding Case, ELC Responds to School Shooting, Relief Obtained for Youngest Students, Third Circuit Amicus Supporting Students Experiencing Homelessness, and more...
Oral Argument on March 7 in School Funding Lawsuit

ELC continues to push for adequate and fair school funding through our state lawsuit. The next important step in this effort will be on Wednesday, March 7, when the Commonwealth Court will hear oral argument on the remaining preliminary objections.  Please join us to show your support for this important issue. The courtroom opens at 8:30 AM, with arguments beginning at 9:30, though our argument may not begin until around 10:30 AM. We will hold a press conference on the south side of City Hall immediately following oral argument. The argument will take place at the Commonwealth Court: 9th floor, Courtroom 1, Widener Building, 1339 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. Please RSVP  here .
ELC Responds with Concern, Outrage to School Shooting

ELC has joined the many voices of concern and outrage about yet another mass school shooting costing students and educators their lives. We urge our elected officials to listen to the voices of youth and educators in responding to guns in our schools. Research demonstrates that putting armed personnel in schools is not the answer to school-based violence and only puts more lives at risk - if guns are improperly secured, mishandled, or mistakenly or inappropriately discharged.  It also heightens anxiety and makes students feel less safe.  Schools should instead be armed with the resources and staffing they need to create a positive, nurturing school climate. The Pennsylvania Senate and House both have upcoming hearings on school safety; contact your legislators to let them know that putting armed personnel in schools is no solution.
ELC Submits Third Circuit Amicus Brief In Support of Student Experiencing Homelessness

ELC and pro bono partners Shannon Ammon and John Coit of Morgan Lewis LLP submitted an amicus brief in the Third Circuit in support of a child with disabilities experiencing homelessness. The lower court ruled in the child's favor, finding that the child  -- living doubled up due to economic hardship -- was eligible for school stability under the federal McKinney-Vento Act. The school district that appealed the ruling argued that his parents waived any prospective legal entitlement to these federal protections under a settlement agreement negotiated to resolve claims asserted under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The case represents the first opportunity for the Third Circuit to opine about the rights of students experiencing homelessness under federal law. ELC's partners, the National Center on Homelessness and Poverty, People's Emergency Center, and Homeless Children's Education Fund joined ELC as amici.
ELC Wins Relief for Children Denied Early Intervention Services

Last fall, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) issued corrective action in response to a systemic complaint filed by ELC's Independence Foundation Law Fellow Sean McGrath. The administrative complaint alleged that the School District of Philadelphia violated the rights of young children with disabilities by denying them timely evaluations and special education services when they transitioned to kindergarten or first grade. In response, PDE required the District to determine whether it denied any child's right to receive mandated services during this critical transition, and if so, to issue compensatory education to make up for lost services. PDE also required the District to develop a new transition procedure. The District has now issued relief to 170 children who failed to receive early intervention services. PDE has rejected the District's proposed revised transition procedure; the District must submit a new procedure by March 1.  While much work remains to be done, ELC continues to fight to ensure that all children receive the relief to which they are entitled and to prevent violations from recurring next year. Read the Complaint and the most current  Investigation Report.
ELC Hosts Webinar Focusing on LGBTQ+ Youth in Juvenile Justice System

Along with our Legal Center for Youth Justice and Education partners, ELC co-hosted a webinar on the intersection of education and the juvenile justice system for LGBTQ+ youth on Feb. 26. The webinar included information on how hostile school environments and disproportionate discipline push LGBTQ+ youth into the school-to-prison pipeline, the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth in juvenile justice facilities, and educational issues LGBTQ+ young people face when re-entering schools after placement. Over 100 people participated in the webinar, which featured ELC attorney Kristina Moon and additional panelists from Lambda Legal, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Lizzy Wingfield, ELC's Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow, moderated the panel.

Click  here to view the video archive of the webinar, and join us as we continue the conversation in a Twitter chat on Thursday, March 1 at 12 pm EST. Find us at @EdLawCenterPA and hashtag #lgbtyouth.
ELC Sends Open Letter to School Reform Commission on Equity and Access in City Charter Schools

ELC sent an open letter to Philadelphia's School Reform Commission in February highlighting widespread concerns about issues of equity and universal access for vulnerable students in the city's charter schools. Evaluations conducted by the Charter Schools Office have flagged these issues. We urged the District to pursue vigorous accountability. In reviewing seven new charter school applications, we saw that the charter office had flagged many of the same issues with these new applicants. Many of these applications failed to demonstrate how student populations such as English learners, students with disabilities, or other underserved groups will have access and receive adequate supports. We urged the SRC not to discount these equity issues. On Feb. 22, the SRC approved just one of the seven proposed new charter schools, with a series of conditions.  The SRC will vote on proposed revisions to the district's charter amendment process at its March meeting.
ELC Urges Changes to Criminal Procedural Rules Governing Incarceration for Failure to Pay

ELC submitted two proposed amendments to Pennsylvania's Criminal Procedural Rules governing incarceration for failure to pay in summary cases, such as truancy matters. ELC recommended specific amendments to ensure that judges use their significant discretion to impose fair and equitable consequences that do not punish and unfairly incarcerate parents and youth for being indigent. ELC's proposed amendments -- which include a presumption of indigence for juvenile defendants and a call to clearly delineate what constitutes indigence based on recognized standards -- seek to ensure that courts will be strictly prohibited from jailing parents and students who are unable to pay. The rules, if adopted, could have a profound effect on court practice by narrowing the circumstances where fines and imprisonment can be imposed.
Employment Opportunities at ELC

ELC has openings in our Philadelphia office for a Budget and Financial Assistant, a Paralegal/Intake Coordinator, and an experienced Staff Attorney. ELC also has an opening in our Pittsburgh office for an experienced Staff Attorney. View the full list of employment opportunities here .
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