July 2018
PA Legislature passes 2018-19 Budget; ELC Responds
The Pennsylvania legislature passed a budget for 2018-19 that the Governor signed on June 22, adding needed new funds for public schools. Our press release – pointing out that the outcome was not entirely positive – garnered significant media attention. A June 22  Associated Press article  about the budget stated: "Education Law Center noted that, despite the new money  for public schools, the state 'has miles to go to achieve a fair and adequate funding system.'" This story has run in more than 80 news outlets across the country, including the Miami Herald and Houston Chronicle, as well as Pennsylvania newspapers like the Allentown Morning Call and Pocono Record. To see ELC’s latest statement on the budget, click here .

ELC has joined with 15 other organizations to launch PA Schools Work, a nonpartisan campaign organized to ensure that Pennsylvania’s public schools are adequately and equitably funded – so that all PA schools work! You can learn more about this new campaign on Twitter @PASchoolsWork or by liking the campaign’s Facebook page .
State Appropriates $60 Million for School Safety Grants
The budget includes a newly created School Safety Fund, a $60 million grant fund for schools to pursue a wide variety of programs aimed at keeping students and teachers safe. Grants can be submitted to support any of 22 varieties of expenses and programs, including physical building upgrades, security equipment, violence prevention education programs, teacher training, mentoring programs, and school police costs. ELC will be doing its part to ensure that schools and districts focus on positive supports for students rather than on expanded policing. An article about the program in the Inquirer notes ELC’s opposition to putting more armed personnel in schools and our caution to educators and policymakers that heightened school policing is likely to lead to harsher punitive measures aimed at Black and Brown students.
Philadelphia Extends Suspension Ban to Include 1st and 2nd Grade; Pittsburgh Will Also Have K-2 Ban in Place This Fall
The School District of Philadelphia formally adopted changes to its student code of conduct on June 21, extending its kindergarten suspension ban to first and second grades – a policy expansion ELC has long advocated for. Our press release on the issue highlighted the “consistent and significant racial disparities” in how suspensions at all levels are issued. ELC’s advocacy on the issue was highlighted in this story in the Notebook. In announcing the new policy, Superintendent Hite thanked ELC and the ACLU of Pennsylvania for our work with the district on this issue. A coalition of organizations, including Philadelphia Student Union and One Pennsylvania, worked hard to extend the ban, which was also supported by several local elected officials.

Beginning September 2018, the K-2 suspension ban will be in place in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. ELC Attorney Cheryl Kleiman testified at Pittsburgh Public Schools’ June Board Meeting to support forthcoming Code of Conduct changes necessary to implement that district’s new K-2 suspension ban. ELC expressed concern that dress and grooming codes are being used to police students’ bodies, rather than their clothing. We urged the District to pay attention to the ways that dress codes can have a disproportionate impact on Black girls and recommended that girls be part of creating solutions ensuring that students aren’t denied access to education for a dress code violation. Read ELC’s testimony here.
Kleiman testifying on Pittsburgh's Code of Conduct revisions.
ELC Decries Delay of Regulation to Prevent Racial Disproportionality in Special Education
Education Law Center opposes Friday’s decision by the U.S. Department of Education to delay a regulation intended to help prevent racial discrimination and disproportionality in special education. This important regulation was widely supported by students, parents, school administrators, and the civil rights community, including ELC, which opposed the now-final two-year postponement of the regulation from July 1, 2018, to July 1, 2020. Read our statement here
Immigrant Youth Are Entitled to Educational Services
One stunning aspect of the recent Trump administration offensive on immigration was a statement in May by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that it is up to individual schools and local communities to decide whether to call ICE to report undocumented students. In fact, the Supreme Court’s Plyler ruling in 1982 established students’ right to receive a public education regardless of their immigration status. In June, DeVos had to walk back her earlier statement when repeatedly pressed in a Senate hearing. As concerns mounted about the plight of immigrant youth separated from their parents, an Education Week story about their educational rights quoted ELC Legal Director Maura McInerney.  
ELC Legal Director Maura McInerney was quoted in EdWeek.
House Passes Legislation to Support Youth in Foster Care Access to Higher Ed
Pennsylvania’s House unanimously passed House Bill 1745 , the Fostering Independence Through Education Act, on June 22. The bill, providing college tuition waivers for foster youth, has moved to the Senate for consideration in the fall. Thank you for the calls you made and emails you sent to let our lawmakers know that success of youth in foster care is important to you. ELC Attorney Cheryl Kleiman had a letter to the editor published explaining the bill’s importance.
Philadelphia Task Force Will Tackle Problems with Institutional Placements
In May, ELC testified at a robust Philadelphia City Council hearing focusing on the needs of youth in the dependency and delinquency systems placed far from home in residential placements. This month, City Council passed a resolution introduced by Councilmember Helen Gym and endorsed by 10 other Council members, creating a task force dedicated to reducing the number of youth in institutional placements. This is a move ELC has long advocated for. Follow the issue via the hashtag #SafelyHomePhilly , and read the text of the resolution here .
ELC Releases Educational Decision Maker Toolkit
In June, ELC released the “Educational Decision Maker” (“EDM”) Toolki t , authored by ELC, along with CASA of Philadelphia County, through a grant from Impact100 Philadelphia. The Toolkit is being used to train new CASA volunteers to serve as court-appointed EDMs for children in foster care. Court-appointed EDMs can have an enormously positive impact on the educational outcomes of children and youth in the dependency system. Together with school personnel, child welfare professionals, and others, they can work to ensure that students who are in dependent care have school stability, achieve academic success, and have access to needed services. CASA currently serves over 100 students and has 72 additional children on a waiting list.
ELC Wishes Farewell to Three Board Members
Thank you and a fond farewell to three outstanding ELC Board Members whose terms end this summer. Secretary Ann Martin, former Board Chair Bruce Campbell, and Vice President Jon Pletcher each served ELC with distinction and provided thoughtful and effective leadership to the organization.
Ann Martin, Bruce Campbell, ELC Executive Director Deborah Gordon Klehr, and Jon Pletcher.
Welcome to Our Newest Interns
ELC welcomes three new legal interns this month: Charlène Donfack and Jasmin Randolph-Taylor in our Pittsburgh Office, and Brittany Clarke in our Philadelphia office. Charlène is enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. She immigrated to the US from Cameroon in 2013 and has a master's degree in international disputes and conflict resolution from the International Relations Institute of Cameroon. Jasmin has a bachelor’s degree from Howard University in legal communications and is now in a joint degree program, earning her JD and Master of Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh. She also works as a substitute teacher in Pittsburgh Public Schools. Brittany is a law student at Temple University, and she is entering her fifth year teaching middle school math. Brittany also holds a master’s degree in Urban Education from the University of Pennsylvania.
Congrats, Grads!
E LC staff have celebrated the graduations of several of our clients this school year. Many of our clients have overcome incredible obstacles to achieve this goal, including homelessness, being in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, and overcoming language barriers in a new country. We are thrilled for them and their success! Here's Khadidja Issa, the lead plaintiff in our Lancaster case on her graduation day from McCaskey HS. 
We're Hiring
ELC seeks to sponsor applicants for postgraduate legal fellowships to start in the Fall of 2019. Applicants should be law students graduating in Spring of 2019 or current law clerks. Candidates should have a demonstrated commitment to public interest law, ideally with experience working with vulnerable populations. For more information,  visit our job posting.   Other ELC job opportunities are posted here. 
Save the Date
ELC is excited to announce our Annual Celebration will take place on September 26 at the Crystal Tea Room in Philadelphia. Our event co-chairs are Nina M. Gussack and Brennan Torregrossa, and we are honoring education champions:

  • GSK, a global, science-led healthcare company that partners with local nonprofits to build healthier communities through signature programs like GSK Science in the Summer™, a free science education for elementary school children;

  • Kevin Bethel, Stoneleigh Fellow and Senior Policy Advisor at the Juvenile Justice Research and Reform lab at Drexel University, for his commitment to diversion and juvenile justice;

  • The Attic Youth Center for its commitment to the LGBTQ youth of Philadelphia and long history of providing life-changing programming and services; and

  • Amy Ufberg, Marissa Tribuiani, and Michelle Nguyen from Dechert LLP for their exceptional work as pro bono counsel.

We hope you will join us  in celebrating another year of working to ensure access to a quality public education for all children in Pennsylvania.
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