March News: Oral Argument in Fair Funding Case, Testimony on School Safety, Adultification Bias, and more...
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ELC Legal Director Maura McInerney and Executive Director Deborah Gordon Klehr stand with parent advocate and plaintiff Sheila Armstrong and POWER Executive Director Rev. Gregory Holston after the March 7 oral argument.
Commonwealth Court Hears Oral Argument in Challenge to PA School Funding Scheme

A snow emergency  didn't stop us from arguing before Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court on March 7, advancing our claim that all children in the Commonwealth have an important legal right to a quality public education. ELC, along with the Public Interest Law Center and O'Melveny & Myers (OMM), represents six school districts, seven families, the NAACP of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools in a constitutional challenge to the state's inadequate and inequitable school funding system. In the March 7 oral argument , our team argued that objections by legislative leaders are without merit and that our lawsuit must proceed to trial. We await a ruling and promise to keep you posted on any developments in this critical case. Read coverage of the oral argument  here hereand here .

ELC Submits Testimony on School Safety, Supports Student Activism on Gun Violence

ELC submitted testimony to a March 15, 2018, Pennsylvania House Education Committee hearing on school safety. We urged officials to reject militarized responses to school violence and to focus instead on strategies to foster a school climate that is supportive of all students and attentive to students experiencing trouble or trauma. Read our testimony here , and news coverage here .
The hearing came one day after thousands of students joined the National School Walkout, calling for action against gun violence. ELC has been supportive of our student partners' efforts: We circulated a fact sheet about the walkout with information about students' rights to protest and responses to possible disciplinary consequences. ELC staff participated in the local March for Our Lives to highlight student calls for action to prevent gun violence in schools and communities. Another National School Walkout  is planned for April 20, the anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School.

Join ELC and the Mayor's Office of Education on April 9 to Learn About the Adultification Bias Affecting Black Girls

ELC will partner with the Philadelphia Mayor's Office of Education on Monday, April 9, to host Dr. Jamilia J. Blake and Rebecca Epstein for a presentation on adultification bias and their report "Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls' Childhood." This groundbreaking study revealed that, beginning at age five, Black girls are perceived to be older, less innocent, and in need of less nurturing than their White peers. Dr. Blake and Ms. Epstein will discuss the impact that adultification has on Black girls' educational and life outcomes. The event will take place at William Way (1315 Spruce St., Philadelphia) from 10 AM - noon. Please register for the event here .
PDE Widens Investigation and Remedy for Young Children with Disabilities Transitioning to Kindergarten in Philadelphia

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has significantly broadened its corrective action in response to ELC's administrative complaint alleging that the School District of Philadelphia denied young children with disabilities timely evaluations and special education services upon transitioning to kindergarten or first grade. In its prior Complaint Investigation Report, 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. At ELC's urging, through a Request for Reconsideration, PDE agreed to verify the accuracy of the District's determination that 170 children had been denied services. That review disclosed that the District failed to identify a significant number of students who were denied special education services.

PDE has now expanded its investigation to include an additional 1,795 students with disabilities who transitioned to school last fall to ensure that all children receive needed make-up services. You can read the complaints filed by ELC's Independence Foundation Law Fellow Sean McGrath and PDE's Investigation Reports here.

Pittsburgh Community Advocate Honored at Task Force Champion Award Event

As a long-standing community partner and legal consultant to the Pittsburgh Local Task Force (LTF) on the right to education for students with disabilities, ELC joined others to honor Ms. Paulette Foster as a Community Advocate at the LTF's Champion Award event, held on March 21. ELC nominated Ms. Foster because she is a parent for her nephew and an irrepressible advocate for the education of students with disabilities. As the co-chair of the LTF, she shares her personal experience, wisdom, and vision to inform education advocacy throughout western Pennsylvania. She also raises awareness and helps to dismantle racial and ethnic barriers faced by students with disabilities throughout the District. Congratulations, Paulette Foster!
ELC Presents at NAACP Statewide Conferences

ELC Executive Director Deborah Gordon Klehr and Staff Attorney Cheryl Kleiman both presented at NAACP statewide conferences this month-Deborah in West Chester and Cheryl in Aliquippa. They spoke about the school-to-prison pipeline, equal access, and fair funding.
Cheryl Kleiman (left) presents at the NAACP Spiritual Summit State Conference
Legal Director to Present in National Webinar on Juvenile Justice Reforms in the Era of ESSA

The Legal Center for Youth Justice and Education (co-founded by ELC) and American Youth Policy Forum will be co-hosting a national webinar entitled Effective Juvenile Justice Reforms in the Era of ESSA on Thursday, April 12, from 1:00-2:15 PM ET. The webinar will highlight ESSA implementation for youth in the juvenile justice system and the Blueprint for Change: Education Success for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System authored by the Legal Center. ELC Legal Director Maura McInerney will be a featured presenter. The link to register is available here.
ELC Presents on Legal Barriers Faced by LGBTQIA Youth

The Philadelphia Bar Association hosted a panel on March 28 exploring "Legal Issues Facing LGBTQIA Youth in Philadelphia."  Lizzy Wingfield, ELC's Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow, presented along with representatives from our partners at Community Legal Services and the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Lizzy discussed barriers to education that disproportionately affect LBGTQIA youth of color and described legal mechanisms advocates can use when advocating for these students. Staff Attorney Kristina Moon moderated the panel.
From left to right: ELC Staff Attorney Kristina Moon, Assistant Public Defender at Defender Association of Philadelphia Kae Greenberg, Community Legal Services Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow Kee Tobar, and ELC Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow Lizzy Wingfield.
Twitter Chat Focuses on Juvenile Justice and LGBTQ Youth

ELC staff co-led a lively Twitter chat on March 1 addressing the interplay of educational and juvenile justice challenges facing LGBTQ youth - along with colleagues at Lambda Legal, the Juvenile Law Center, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Highlights are here.
Staff Attorney Partners with Allegheny County DHS to Present on Homeless Youth Issues

Staff Attorney Cheryl Kleiman partnered with Allegheny County DHS, ELC board member Abby Horn, and the Homeless Children's Education Fund on a March 16 presentation to homeless providers around homeless youth issues. ELC will continue its focus on the rights of students experiencing homelessness, especially in the context of new reports and research that confirm youth experiencing homelessness too rarely benefit from these rights.
Legal Director to Lecture on ELC's Fair Funding Suit

RSVP  here.
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