Trial in our school funding lawsuit on track to begin in September
For a generation, Pennsylvania’s legislative leaders have refused to live up to their constitutional responsibility to fairly fund public schools so that all students, not just those from certain zip codes, are equipped with the tools and skills they need to reach their potential.

Now, public school students in Pennsylvania will soon have their day in court. A Commonwealth Court order released April 1 has tentatively scheduled a trial start date of September 9, 2021, in our clients' historic lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s school funding system. We released a short video sharing this milestone--watch and share it to spread the word.

We held a press conference on Friday, April 2, with parents, school leaders and co-counsel from Education Law Center. The announcement was covered in Chalkbeat Philadelphia, WFMZ-Leigh Valley, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and more.

“We often have to triage how we spend our resources. Do we buy up-to-date textbooks, or do we provide after school programs? Do we reduce class sizes…or do we provide additional summer school opportunities?," said Dr. Damaris Rau, Superintendent of the School District of Lancaster, one of the petitioners in the case. "When the poorest students are making the greatest sacrifices to access education, it is not a just system."

Learn More, and sign up at to get involved and read the latest updates on the case.
Brenda Marrero honored with HBA-PA's 2021 La Justicia Award
On March 25, our Executive Director Brenda Marrero was honored with the 20th Annual La Justicia award from the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania (HBA-PA), the organization’s highest honor, recognizing a career in public service.

“The Board of the HBA-PA is proud to recognize and celebrate Brenda Marrero for her unwavering commitment to service and her tireless efforts to meet the social and legal needs of the Philadelphia community,” the association wrote in its award announcement. “Brenda continues to be a trail-blazer, dear friend, mentor, and model for our members.” Congratulations Brenda on this well-deserved honor!

In an interview with Al Dia, Brenda shared how she was motivated to enter law after seeing the difficulty her mother went through to find justice, after she experienced discrimination at work based on her national origin.

Brenda Marrero and her family accept the La Justicia award from the HBA-PA
Law Center in the News: How gun safety preemption makes it harder for cities to take on gun violence
In October 2020, amid rapidly rising gun violence in Philadelphia, we joined the City of Philadelphia in a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, taking on the statewide preemption that blocks many local gun safety laws. The lawsuit alleges that the General Assembly handcuffs local governments so that they cannot enact or enforce policies that have been repeatedly shown to save lives, while it also refuses to enact statewide gun safety laws. We are representing family members of gun violence victims in the ongoing case.

Preemption laws, which are in effect in states across the country, were subject to nationwide scrutiny after a mass shooting occurred in a Boulder, Colorado supermarket on March 22. The suspect in the shooting purchased an assault-style rifle a few days after Boulder's municipal ban on such weapons was struck down based on Colorado's preemption law.

In a report from the Trace and USA Today, our staff attorney Ben Geffen shared how state preemption laws stop municipalities from taking action to stop gun violence in their communities.

“What we saw in Boulder is another example of how a municipality was frustrated in its ability to regulate firearms when the state failed to do so,” Geffen said. “There’s no way to know if Boulder’s enforcement of those regulations would have stopped the shooting we saw yesterday, but there’s ample literature to show that, even when gun safety measures are implemented in only one part of the state, they do put a meaningful dent in the gun violence problem.”

Bidders revealed in Chester Upland SD outsourcing process
A process that could lead Chester Upland School District to become the first in Pennsylvania to completely outsource the operations of its schools continues to move forward. On March 10, the district's court-appointed receiver finally released the names of the three bidders who had responded in February to a Request for Proposals (RFP) to take over district schools.

The bidders are: Chester Community Charter School; Friendship Education Foundation; and Global Leadership Academy. Chester Community Charter School (CCCS) has proposed the conversion of two district schools to charter schools. No details about the scope or particulars of either other submitted bid have been publicly revealed. Read more in the Delaware County Daily Times.

These names were revealed after district parents and filed an emergency petition with the court. We are representing the parents along with the Education Law Center.

“This process could shape education in Chester for years to come,” said staff attorney Claudia De Palma. “Transparency is the bare minimum, but at every turn the receiver has failed to provide for that. Parents and teachers in Chester will not accept radical transformations to their students’ schools without a real and meaningful opportunity to assess the ability of any bidder to improve the quality of education provided to students."

Join us April 8 for Vacant Land 215: Urban Agriculture and Community Gardening in Philadelphia
Our Garden Justice Legal Initiative and Soil Generation invite you to come discuss legal land access and preservation for gardens, farms, and other community-managed open spaces, including discussing resources available to growers during COVID-19. To view an online list of some of these resources and tips visit, Grounded in Philly.

Representatives from Soil Generation, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Philadelphia Land Bank, the Neighborhood Gardens Trust, and the Philadelphia Water Department will also be available during this event to discuss options and answer questions. To make this program useful for you, bring property addresses and all your questions. Free registration here.

When: Thursday, April 8, 12:00-1:30 p.m.

There will be 45 minutes of brief presentations from participating organizations followed by 45 minutes for questions.

Where: Online webinar

In a letter, we demand equal access to vaccination for Philadelphians with disabilities
The existing COVID-19 vaccination plan in Philadelphia does not adequately take into consideration the needs of people with disabilities and their caregivers. We joined several other organizations and individuals, including Councilmembers Derek Green, Mark Squilla, and Helen Gym; and co-founder of Chinatown Disability Advocacy Project, Anna Perng in a letter spearheaded by Disability Rights Philadelphia to Mayor Jim Kenney and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. Read the letter here. Learn more in coverage from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In the letter, we request that the City engage disability stakeholders to better understand the current obstacles to vaccine access for people with disabilities, and ask the City to revise its vaccination plan in several ways ensure vaccine equity. We also urge the Department of Health to expand eligibility for the vaccine to unpaid family caregivers and individuals with disabilities living in group homes and other community settings. Individuals with disabilities, who are often more vulnerable to coronavirus and its complications, should not be left behind in the effort to vaccinate all Philadelphians. 

We're hiring!
We are seeking applications for a staff attorney to work on the our major litigation initiatives with a particular focus on special education, Medicaid, and other matters pertaining to people with disabilities.

In this work, we aim to ensure that all students, regardless of zip code, race, ethnicity, language or abilities, have access to a high-quality public education, and to improve health in low-income communities by addressing systemic barriers to healthcare and public health threats.