May News: Momentum builds on limiting suspensions; a pencil is not a weapon; summer interns join ELC; and more
"There need to be tools, but just not this one": M omentum grows on ending K-5 suspensions  
ELC continues to advocate to end the use of school suspensions on our youngest learners. Locally, statewide, and nationally, school districts suspend a disproportionate number of students of color and students with disabilities. And they suspend large numbers of children, depriving them of critical time learning in the classroom. Last year the School District of Philadelphia meted out 1081 suspensions to first graders! ELC is working in partnership with parents, students, and other advocates to urge the School District of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Public Schools to stop suspending elementary school students. We are also working at the state level to enact a statewide solution. 

State Rep. Jordan Harris discussed the need for this reform.
ELC attorney and Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellow Alex Dutton was interviewed on WHYY Radio Times about our efforts to stop the suspension of early learners.
A pencil is not a weapon: Commonwealth Court rules that zero tolerance statute has limits
This month the Commonwealth Court agreed with Education Law Center that a pencil is not a weapon within the definition of the Pennsylvania School Code. Pittsburgh Director Nancy A. Hubley and Staff Attorney Cheryl Kleiman successfully defended a student charged with violating the zero tolerance weapons possession statute, arguing that the law is limited to expressly-listed weapons, such as guns and knives and only other objects that are comparable. The unanimous decision of the Court means that schools can no longer use this statute to expel students for the mandatory one year weapons offense and deprive students of their right to education for possession of an ordinary object. As a result of this decision, schools across the Commonwealth will need to review their discipline policies and practices to ensure they are in compliance with this decision.

ELC will be working with students, schools, and communities across the Commonwealth to ensure this decision is being properly implemented and incorporated in district - and charter school - policies. We expect to have new tools and resources to help determine if your school policies need to be revised.
Welcome to our wonderful interns!
ELC is pleased to welcome our new summer legal interns to our offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Please join us on welcoming our new colleagues:
  • Lyasha Bishop, University of Pittsburgh
  • Amanda Brown, Harvard University
  • Jessica Friedman, Temple University
  • Ankur Sakaria, University of Pittsburgh
  • Sydney Stafford, Washington University
  • Rafaela Uribe, Temple University
ELC Op-Ed: "Re-think placing children in a facility like Wordsworth"
The Philadelphia Inquirer published an opinion piece by ELC's Senior Attorney Maura McInereny on the closing of Philadelphia's Wordsworth Academy, a residential treatment facility with a record of disturbing discipline practices and minimal education services. Wordsworth Academy was shut down last fall, but the number of these "on-grounds schools" have grown exponentially with little evidence that placing children in such centers has a positive impact on mental health.
" Education apartheid": ELC joins advocates demanding Pennsylvania rectify school funding disparities  
ELC joined Rev. Gregory Holston of POWER Interfaith, Pennsylvania State Senator Vince Hughes, State Representative Christopher Rabb, and other advocates in Harrisburg to demand the General Assembly equitably fund the state's schools and end the "education apartheid" caused by inequitable funding of schools that serve students of color.
ELC: Guns and schools don't mix, reject SB 383  
Pennsylvania Senate Bill 383 would permit districts to allow teachers and other school personnel to carry concealed firearms in schools. While ELC shares the desire to protect students and ensure schools are safe places, arming school personnel is not the appropriate way to do so. Please contact your legislator and share our letter on how this legislation will increase the odds of tragic mistakes without making our schools any safer.
ELC applauds the federal appeals court decision supporting rights of transgender students  
The Seventh Circuit's decision yesterday in Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District affirmed that transgender students are protected by federal law and the U.S. Constitution.
ELC presents on needs of vulnerable children in  early intervention programs  
Senior Attorney Maura McInerney and Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellow Sean McGrath participated in the Early Intervention Provider Association of Pennsylvania retreat held in State College, PA. There, ELC led a training on aspects of the state and federal laws governing early intervention services to clarify how the system should work, particularly for vulnerable children.
Trainings now! ELC joins teachers, advocates in calling for guidance on the rights of immigrant students
June 6: ELC, partners  to be honored at Philadelphia Public School Notebook event  
At this year's "Turning the Page for Change" annual fundraiser, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook will recognize the lawyers from ELC, the Public Interest Law Center, and O'Melveny & Myers working on a statewide education funding lawsuit. The case was filed on behalf of six school districts and six parents, alleging that the state is abdicating its constitutional responsibility to "support and maintain a thorough and efficient system of public education" for all of Pennsylvania's schoolchildren. The event will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 6, at the University of the Arts.
"Let our children play!" ELC joins coalition pushing for equitable music education in Philadelphia  
ELC joined Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym last week to push the School District of Philadelphia to develop a plan to address the racial inequities in its instrumental music program. Councilwoman Gym's office shared an analysis of instrumental music programs across the District, which shows a strong pattern of unequal support along racial lines. 
What we're reading (and watching)...
  • An article from Marketplace reporting on the appalling underfunding of Erie, PA's public schools. 
  • A video from PBS News Hour on the damage cutting Medicaid could do to special education services across the country.
  • An article in Education Week reviewing the Trump administration's proposal to cut billions from the federal education budget.
Join the Campaign for Fair Education Funding
Alongside more than 50 organizations across Pennsylvania, Education Law Center is a leading member of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. Click below to read more about our efforts to ensure that every student has access to a quality education no matter where he or she lives.
United Way Donor Choice Code: 1873 (Southeastern PA)

A copy of the Education Law Center's official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.  
Ensuring access to a quality public education for all children in Pennsylvania
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