October News:   A Win for Our Youngest Clients, Property Tax Ballot Initiative, New Process to Stop Improper Truancy Court Referrals, ELC Co-Hosts Legal Scholar, Executive Director Honored, and more....
The PA Department of Education Agrees with ELC that the School  District  of Philadelphia Violated Students' Rights

On October 6, in response to a systemic complaint filed by ELC Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellow Sean McGrath, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a decision finding that the School District of  Philadelphia  violated the rights of at least 800 incoming kindergarten and first grade students by failing to provide timely special education re-evaluations required to develop Individualized Education Programs.  The Department's corrective action requires the District to provide compensatory education to students who were denied appropriate services.  ELC has requested further action by the Department:  As Sean explained, "The Department's decision represents an important first step towards ensuring that all young children with disabilities receive critical special education services. However, further and more specific corrective action is also necessary to ensure that each child receives the services and supports they need."  You can read the Complaint and the Investigation Report hereand coverage of the decision in the Philadelphia Public School Notebook.
Property Tax Ballot Initiative

On November 7, Pennsylvania voters will be asked to decide whether to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to change what local property taxes may be collected and, by extension, how public schools may be funded.  The proposed amendment to Article VIII would grant the General Assembly legal authority to provide further exemptions on owner-occupied primary residences (known as homesteads) and may ultimately reduce the revenue that local school districts generate from residential property taxes.  Local tax revenues currently account for a significant proportion of school funding, in part, because Pennsylvania provides such a low share of revenue to our public schools; only four state governments provide a lower share.  Further reducing local tax revenues absent state increases will not address Pennsylvania's school funding crisis and will certainly not address the inadequacies and inequities in funding across the state.  Read the Inquirer editorial.  Read more about ELC's school funding work.
In Response to ELC's Complaint, District Acts to Remedy Improper Truancy Court Referrals

This month, the PA Department of Education (PDE) reported that the School District of Philadelphia has undertaken significant corrective action to remedy the improper referral of students with disabilities to Truancy Court.  In response to ELC's prior administrative complaint challenging this practice and our request for further corrective action, the District issued a new directive outlining the procedures that all schools must follow before referring students with disabilities to Truancy Court; notified parents of their right to compensatory education for hours of instruction missed from February 2016 through June 2017; corrected attendance records; and completed a training for all District Special Education Directors.  PDE will complete a file review in the Spring of 2018 to ensure continuing compliance with the District's new procedure and PDE's statewide guidance.  
ELC Co-Sponsors Talk by Prof. Derek Black:  "The Constitutional Compromise to Guarantee Education"

x, Len, Michael, x, Derek Black, DGK, Noelia
On October 25, ELC co-sponsored an event at Temple University Beasley School of Law featuring Derek Black, Professor of Law at the University of South Carolina.  In his talk, based on his law review article "The Constitutional Compromise to Guarantee Education," Professor Black argues that when the Supreme Court held 45 years ago that education is not a fundamental constitutional right, it overlooked that the original intent of the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment was to guarantee education as a right of state citizenship.  Co-sponsors with ELC were Temple University Beasley School of Law, the Public Interest Law Center, the Sheller Center for Social Justice, and the School Discipline Advocacy Service.  
ELC Presents on the Impact of Race and Gender in Public Systems

At the "Second Annual Equity Summit: An intersectional Approach: Systems Working Together to Advance Equity for Black Girls," Cheryl Kleiman presented alongside young  Black women and girls on the importance of elevating HERstory to understand the impact of racial and gender inequities in public systems. This is the second year that ELC has partnered with Gwen's Girls to help support the Summit, as part of our role in the Black Girls Equity Alliance and larger work to dismantle the school to prison pipeline for Black girls. Pictured are Cheryl, ELC interns Olivia Stewart and Mychal Evans, Program and Administrative Assistant Elisha Lay, and Equal Justice Works Fellow Jackie Perlow.
ELC Provides Panelists for "Race and the Law" Class

On October 26, ELC's Kristina Moon, Yvelisse Pelotte, Paige Joki, and intern Noelia Rivera-Calderón served as panelists at a Temple University Beasley School of Law event: Race Education, and the Law: Identifying Problems and Developing Solutions.  Professor Hosea Harvey moderated the panel and posed tough questions encouraging both the panelists and the audience to consider the impact of funding inequity on students and communities of color, the importance of desegregating schools in Philadelphia, the disproportionate utilization of punishments against students of color, and the lasting impacts of educational exclusion for children of color. Following the discussion, students and ELC staff continued a fruitful dialogue about the shortcomings of the present education system and potential solutions for a more equitable path forward.  
ELC Attorneys Admitted to Pennsylvania Bar

We're thrilled to announce that on October 30, ELC Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellow Paige Joki and Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow Lizzy Wingfield were formally admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar at a ceremony at City Hall in  Philadelphia.   Congratulations to Lizzy and Paige and a warm welcome to the Pennsylvania legal community!  

ELC Executive Director Deborah Gordon Klehr Elected to Membership in the American Law Institute

On October 24, The American Law Institute announced the election of 37 new members nationwide, including ELC's Executive Director Deborah Gordon Klehr. The American Law Institute is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law.  "This latest group of new members exemplifies the diversity in perspective and experience essential to the work of The American Law Institute," said ALI President David F. Levi. "We always hope to work with thoughtful and wise people who care about the things that we do. This is another great opportunity to do just that."  Congratulations Deborah!

ELC Uniontown Training on Rights of At-Risk Youth:  Standing Room Only!

ELC's Jackie Perlow, Nancy Hubley, and Cheryl Kleiman traveled to Fayette County to present "Education Law and Policies: Critical Issues" to providers, educators, attorneys, and advocates.  The program focused on the education rights of students who are too frequently at the margins, including students with disabilities, students experiencing homelessness, and students involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. The audience, which filled the room to capacity and more, engaged in interactive activities and exercises to identify advocacy strategies that will ensure that students have access to school, are not pushed out if they are in school, and benefit from the full range of educational opportunities available.  That's Nancy at the lectern.


ELC Makes Anti-Bullying Fashion Statement 

Here are some of us wearing purple on GLAAD #SpiritDay, October 19th, to show support for GLAAD's anti-bullying campaign.

#SpiritDay 2017

Two Giving Options to Support ELC's New Education Action Fund!

In September, inspired by a generous match from our amazing Board of Directors and the generosity of the attendees at our annual Celebration, we kicked off the new Education Action Fund.  The fund will allow ELC to respond quickly to situations that might not be covered by existing grant funding. 

Please support the Education Action Fund in your upcoming giving plans.  Here are two great ways to do that:
  • Support ELC with a donation on #GivingTuesday, November 28, 2017.  It's as simple as texting "ELC" to 91999 with the amount of your donation, or visiting the donation web page.  (And you don't even have to wait, you can do it right now!)
  • Support ELC by choosing code 1873 on your
    employer's United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey Donor Option form.
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.  

 What We're Reading/Listening/Watching...
  • NPR podcast:  "Code Switch."  NPR  is releasing a three-part series on race and identity focusing on a new DC high school. 
  • "Bullies in Blue," an ACLU white paper on the origins and negative consequences of school policing.
  • "The War on Public Schools," the October installment of Atlantic Magazine's long-form series on public education.
United Way Donor Choice Code: 1873 (Greater Philadelphia and Southern NJ)

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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