In win for parents, Pa. Dept. of Ed. establishes new complaints process

My Philly Schools
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE)
has created its first-ever formal policy and procedure for accepting and responding to complaints from parents, teachers and advocates about curriculum deficiencies in public schools. The new process results from the settlement of a lawsuit we helped Philadelphia parents bring against PDE in 2014 after the Department failed to investigate a significant portion of more than 825 parent complaints filed that year. We applaud PDE for creating and implementing a new and transparent policy and procedure to make sure all future complaints are appropriately addressed. Parents from across the state can continue to submit complaints through PDE's new form online through

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Our Letter: Philly's Fair Housing Plan Fails to Address Underrepresentation of Latinos in Affordable Housing

Fair Housing
Staff attorney Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg sent a letter to the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) expressing concerns about their joint Fair Housing Plan. The agencies are producing the plan in response to a new federal rule from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which is designed to hold local housing agencies accountable to provide fair housing.

One concern we have is that the City will not critically examine how it distributes its own resources, potentially failing to reach out to certain communities or offer services in languages other than English, which has resulted in an underrepresentation of Latinos in PHA and PHA-affiliated housing. While 23% of households living in poverty are Latino, only 7% of PHA housing and affiliated housing is lived in by Latinos. We believe it is crucial that the city focus on looking at internal factors, as well as external factors, to ensure it provides fair and equitable housing opportunities.

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Law Center Helps Teaching Aide Return to Work

We helped a teaching aide get her job back after almost two years of being out of work, following the School District of Philadelphia's decision to fire her for excessive days off to receive medical treatment for her disability. In addition to re-instating our client, the District is revising its policies to make clear that employees with medical issues may be entitled to additional days off as an accommodation for their disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The settlement with the district also included compensation for part of the time the employee was out of work.  This case was brought as part of our  Disability Employment Discrimination Project .

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Recursos Sobre Terrenos Desocupados:  Vacant Land Toolkit now in Spanish

Vacant Land
Thanks to a grant from the CDC, the Office of Sustainability had our vacant land toolkit translated into Spanish! This is a guide for gardeners looking to maintain or create community spaces on vacant land. Through this guide, our community trainings, and the Grounded in Philly sitewe are helping community members self advocate to secure access to vacant land.
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Uninhabitable Housing Case Moves Forward
Yazmin Vazquez
Yazmin Vazquez and her mother

In August, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of  Yazmin Vazquez against her former landlord, Marc A. Gilbert, and his property management company, Obara Investment Realty Advisors, LLC. The suit alleges that the landlord and property manager rented her an uninhabitable property that did not have heat, was infested with rodents, and had raw sewage leaking in the basement. In September, the Defendants filed preliminary objections, but those objections were recently overruled by the court. The Defendants now must answer the complaint, and we will proceed to discovery. 

This is our first in a series of cases designed to affirmatively use Philadelphia city laws to ensure low-income tenants have access to safe, healthy homes.

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Know Your Rights on November 8

The Pennsylvania Department of State is  encouraging voters to educate themselves about their rights at the polls on November 8. In addition to rights listed in the state's press release we have re-posted on our website, the state offers voter rights information in two downloadable brochures: 
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Thank You for Making our Annual Event a Success

Copyright christopherkadishphotography 2016
Thank you so much to you, our supporters, sponsors, and volunteers for making our 2016 Annual Event a rousing success! Special thanks to everyone who attended the event on October 6 and enjoyed the moving program emceed by Rev. Dr. Mark Tyler, the exciting silent auction, and socializing at the fabulous Fringe Arts.  Head to our Facebook page for photos from the event, and stay tuned--we'll share videos from the program in the near future.
Welcome New Staff Attorney Lee Awbrey

Lee Awbrey
We are excited to welcome Lee Awbrey as our newest staff attorney! Lee comes to us f rom the United States Department of Labor, where she enforced coal mine workplace safety through litigation and negotiation. Lee previously worked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and Morrison & Foerster, LLP. Lee will focus on our disability work, both in special education and employment. Help us welcome her to the team by liking our Facebook post congratulating her
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