January News: Funding Case Progress, Amicus Brief on Bullying, Reducing Out-of-School Suspensions, and more!
Governor Tells Court School Funding Case Should Be Tried Without Delay

Since the PA Supreme Court's September 2017 landmark ruling authorizing our school funding case to be heard, we have been preparing for trial to challenge the constitutionality of the state's inadequate and inequitable funding system.  However, the legislative branch continues to raise multiple objections and to seek dismissal of our claims prior to trial -- delaying justice for hundreds of thousands of students in underfunded schools across the Commonwealth. On January 25, Governor Wolf withdrew his preliminary objections and is now calling for the case to move swiftly toward trial. See the news coverage with our comments. We will keep you posted about a preliminary hearing in the case taking place in early March in Philadelphia. 
ELC Files Amicus Brief in Pennsylvania Superior Court Bullying Case

The Education Law Center has filed an amicus brief in a case involving a Philadelphia student who was relentlessly bullied because of his race and nonconformance with gender stereotypes; the school failed to intervene and allowed the bullying to escalate from verbal harassment, to multiple physical assaults, and, ultimately, to rape. ELC partnered with the Public Interest Law Center and Juvenile Law Center in arguing that this student, and others like him, should have protection under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), Pennsylvania's antidiscrimination law, when their school fails to intervene to stop ongoing harassment. "Unfortunately, the Education Law Center hears frequently from families about issues of bullying and harassment in schools," said Lizzy Wingfield, ELC's Stoneleigh Foundation Emerging Leader Fellow. "The issue of unaddressed bullying is pervasive and is particularly common when the bullied student is a child of color who does not conform to societal gender norms or is LGBTQ."  Read the news release
  here and the brief here.
ELC Files Comments with US Commission on Civil Rights on the Importance of Federal Rules Protecting Students of Color with Disabilities from Discrimination 

On January 16, we filed comments with the US Commission on Civil Rights on the importance of guidance and regulations designed to prote ct students of color with disabilities from discrimination. The current guidance and regulations are under attack, and the USCCR requested comments as they work on a related report. We recently met with national colleagues working on this issue to align our comments and efforts. Here are ELC's comments . ELC also joined with 10 other civil rights organization in a joint letter to the Commission addressing the issue of bias in discipline.
ELC Continues Advocacy to Reduce Out-of-School Suspensions

Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and other districts in Pennsylvania have taken steps to reduce the number of out-of-school suspensions. Besides the damage caused by lost instructional time, suspensions have been shown to be an ineffective deterrent. In addition, students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately suspended. Significant support for discipline reform came via guidance from the Obama administration issued in 2014. But now there is a backlash from defenders of punitive discipline, evidenced by a series of articles in local and national publications; these critics are looking to US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reverse the Obama-era guidance. ELC Executive Director Deborah Gordon Klehr responded to those critiques in a recent op-ed in the Public School Notebook and a letter to the editor in the Inquirer. ELC continues to push for a shift away from exclusionary discipline and toward more positive supports for students.
ELC Sends Open Letter to the Mayor on Philadelphia School Board Nominations 

The return of the School District of Philadelphia to local control and the formation of a nine-member school board over the next few months present a unique opportunity to put Philadelphia's schools on a positive course. Based on our close work with Philadelphia students and families, we wrote to the nominating panel and Mayor Kenney to urge them to prioritize five commitments that we see as key to the success of this new board. Click  here to read the letter.
A new member of our team ... and a goodbye.

This month we are happy to welcome Allegra Abramson as our new development and communications associate. Allegra recently came to Philadelphia from Baltimore, where she taught in the public schools and did community engagement and college access work for low-income students. She has a master's degree in urban education from Johns Hopkins University and earned her undergraduate degree from Bard College at Simon's Rock. This month we also say goodbye to ELC attorney Alex Dutton, who joins Community Legal Services. Thank you, Alex, for your incredible advocacy on behalf of children across Pennsylvania. We wish you all the best in your new position at CLS!
Employment Opportunities at ELC

For more information on these and other opportunities, please click here.
 What We're Reading/Listening/Watching...
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