Black Lives Matter

The Public Interest Law Center
Today, full of pain, anger and sorrow, we mourn the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and all those who are victims of the violence of a racist system. They should be with us today.

We watch in admiration demonstrators who put themselves on the line to make us face the reality of over-policing, police brutality and other ways that racism touches Black communities every day. We listen closely to the anger, fear and despair of our friends, neighbors and fellow Americans. This is a moment for all of us to confront the truth: that this country has never overcome its legacy of slavery and segregation, or the pernicious forms of discrimination and bigotry that are with us today.

Now we ask ourselves: How do we go forward? It has to start by putting aside hate and fear. It has to start with love and empathy.  But that is not enough. We cannot falter. We cannot weary. Rather, we must double down on our work uprooting festering structural inequalities close to home. 

Please join us, and join each other, in finding the way forward. We hope for a future where America acknowledges the truth that Black Lives Matter. We hope for peace, a peace that comes, as Martin Luther King said, not from the absence of tension, but from the presence of justice. Read our full statement on our website

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A judge has ordered Chester Upland SD to consider a charter school takeover. We're making sure parents get a chance to be heard.

Protestors for chester charter school
A proposal to outsource the operation of the entire Chester Upland School District (CUSD) to charter schools is moving forward, despite the absence of any prior public discussion. On May 14, Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge Barry Dozor ordered the district's receiver to solicit proposals to transfer management of the district and its schools to charter operators, as part of CUSD's financial recovery plan. Because of our efforts, the court included a provision in its order requiring a public hearing, where the charter operators would have to answer questions from the public before any final approval.
With co-counsel from Education Law Center, we are representing a group of Chester parents and a community organization with concerns about academic quality, special education, and choice if any district schools are converted charter schools. The proposal to outsource the operation of all elementary schools originated in a court filing by the Chester Community Charter School last November, and was expanded to include all operations of the district in an April 15 filing by the School District laying out their Strategic Options Initiative. No school district in the state so far has converted all of its schools to charters.
As we continue to represent our clients, we will make sure that any plan for the future of the district takes educational quality into full consideration--not just financial stability. Chester Community Charter School, the largest provider currently operating in Chester, has worse academic performance than several of the schools operated by the district. "The important thing is for the public to realize that the wheels have been set in motion to destroy the system of the schools as they currently exist and put them into private hands, and they ought to consider carefully where these proposals are coming from and the quality of them," our attorney Michael Churchill said i n coverage of the decision in the Delaware County Times . Read more about this proposal in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Organized tenants with Renters United Philadelphia hold a socially distant protest for rent relief, safety and respect

Renters hold signs at a socially distant protest

A protestor stands with a mask at a socially distant protest

A banner from a socially distant protest shown on 6ABC news

Renters stand on the sidewalk to protest for fair treatment outside their landlords_ management office

Tenants of MCM Management Solutions in Frankford have been organizing to demand safe and healthy housing for months. They have faced arbitrary rent increases and fees, pest infestations, and a landlord who refuses to meet with them to hear their concerns and find a solution. The renters have been supported by Renters United Philadelphia / Inquilinxs en la Lucha, an organization we launched last year. On May 1, renters held a socially distant protest outside Carver Hall, gathering to demand that MCM Management
  • Cancel rent--suspend rent for working families and tenants living in MCM Management solutions properties,
  • Eliminate late fees,
  • Halt ALL rent increases,
  • Provide a clear plan for how MCM will accommodate tenants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,
  • Secure the doors of their buildings to keep families safe,
  • Perform quarterly pest exterminations, and
  • Immediately meet with tenants to hear their concerns
You can support the renters by signing their petition as a supporter. Read more about their organizing and Renters United Philadelphia in coverage from the Philadelphia Inquirer
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Join us for a virtual Vacant Land 215, with resources for gardeners during COVID-19 

Rows of produce in a community garden

A gardener working on raised beds

Catalina Hunter Hunting Park Garden

Want to learn more about community gardening and farming on vacant land in Philadelphia? Our Garden Justice Legal Initiative invites you to come discuss legal land access and preservation for gardens, farms, and other community-managed open spaces, including resources available to growers during COVID-19. To view on online list of some of these resources and tips, visit Grounded in Philly

When: Tuesday, June 16, 2020, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.

Where: Online free Via Zoom

Register Here
A Philadelphia FDC inmate has tested positive for COVID-19, we reveal in a filing in our case to protect detainees

The Philadelphia Federal Detention Center
The Philadelphia Federal Detention Center
We are representing inmates of Philadelphia's Federal Detention Center (FDC) who are demanding that the jail take action to protect detainees from COVID-19, including the release of medically vulnerable inmates.  In an April 20th filing seeking to dismiss our case, FDC's warden claimed that the facility's protections and testing were adequate, and that a lack of positive cases showed that the FDC was not at risk. 

On May 20th, we filed a supplemental brief opposing the attempt to dismiss our case, painting a more complete picture of the FDC's insufficient and dangerous response to the threat of coronavirus. We reveal that a detainee with an active case of COVID-19 entered the FDC on April 15, and since the lawsuit's filing, three staff members have also tested positive. In the brief, we describe the FDC's poor contact tracing, testing, and hygienic practices, making the risk of a widespread outbreak all the more likely. Read our supplemental brief on our website

"The Federal Detention Center claimed to have no COVID because it has a head-in-the-sand approach--by not testing staff or detainees or even asking those coming into the FDC if they had been tested for COVID," said Linda Dale Hoffa, an attorney with Dilworth Paxson LLP serving as co-counsel on the case, quoted in coverage of the filing from Law360.

Announcing the Morgan Lewis Professional Development Initiative

The Morgan Lewis Professional Development Initiative
We are excited to announce a new initiative to support our staff in their efforts to better serve our clients. Through the Morgan Lewis Professional Development Initiative,  our staff learn the latest developments in the law, best practices for solving problems or technical skills.

In early March, staff attorney Darlene Hemerka attended the  22 nd  Annual Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) conference with the support of this initiative, joining more than 600 special education attorneys and advocates from across the nation. "Connecting with attorneys and advocates from all over the country to discuss challenges, successes and ideas for the future was a great reminder that together we can make a positive difference in the lives of students," Darlene said.

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