September 2019
Join us to Celebrate!
ELC will celebrate 44 years of working to ensure access to a quality public education for all children in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, Sept. 25 at the Crystal Tea Room in Philadelphia.
 
Please join our event co-chairs, Joan Mazzotti and Michael Kelly, to honor our 2019 Champions of Education:

·          Jamilia Blake, Ph.D. and Rebecca Epstein, Esq. , authors of Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood , a leading report on the adultification bias facing Black girls.

·          Bentley Systems, Inc ., a global software development company focused on sustaining the world’s infrastructure, with a demonstrated and passionate commitment to STEM education programs for elementary school students in Pennsylvania.  

·          Opera Philadelphia , one of the most innovative opera companies in the nation that also addresses the gap in arts education and access in the Greater Philadelphia region through an intensive, in-school, literacy-based music education program and robust afterschool programs. 

·          Pro Bono Honorees Jennifer Fox Rabold, Esq., and Susie Kernen of FedEx Ground , for their work administering a trust on behalf of children living in a group home who had been denied access to an appropriate education.
It's a New School Year: Know Your Rights
As students head back to school, ELC has updated our annual guide with a wide array of  “back-to-school” resources and reminders  about laws and policies that families and schools should know. Don’t miss it and please share widely!
ELC Opposes Motions to Dismiss in Glen Mills Case
Our class action suit on behalf of youth who were abused and denied an education at Glen Mills Schools is moving forward in US District Court. Lawyers from ELC, Juvenile Law Center, and Dechert LLP filed a comprehensive brief on Aug. 30 in opposition to multiple motions to dismiss. Youth who were court-ordered to Glen Mills endured abuse, intimidation, and languished in a self-directed credit recovery or GED program. Our claims challenge the denial of educational rights of students, lack of oversight and monitoring by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and Department of Education, and failure of Chester County Intermediate Unit to meet its clear obligations to students. 
Black Girls Equity Summit is Sept 26-27
We are excited about the all-star lineup of national leaders at the Black Girls Equity Alliance 4th Annual Equity Summit: Intersectionality: Gender, Race, & Systemic Implications for Black Girls in Pittsburgh on Sept. 26-27. As a member of the Black Girls Equity Alliance, ELC will be there and joining Dr. Monique W. Morris in a panel discussion following the exclusive screening of her new documentary , PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools . More information and registration details at http://www.gwensgirls.org/equity-summit/ .
Fighting for Legislative Action to Address Underfunding
The Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing on fair education funding in Coatesville on Aug. 12, attended by over 100 people. ELC policy director Reynelle Brown Staley was among the panelists who testified to the committee. Highlighting statements from parents and superintendents across the state, she spoke to the devastating impact of state underinvestment in education, particularly on poor communities of color. Her testimony urged the General Assembly to increase funding for classroom instruction and target state increases to chronically underfunded communities.
Reynelle Brown Staley (left) testifying on Aug. 12.
ELC Encouraged by Gov. Wolf's Charter Proposals
ELC has applauded Gov. Tom Wolf’s plans, announced Aug. 13 , to introduce new regulations and legislation to reform Pennsylvania charter schools. As an organization dedicated to ensuring the educational rights of all students in Pennsylvania’s public schools, ELC has repeatedly warned about the lack of adequate oversight and accountability tools to protect Pennsylvania students in the charter sector from unfair and discriminatory treatment. Our recent study of Philadelphia charter schools found that the city’s traditional “brick-and-mortar” charter schools are not sharing equitably in the responsibility of educating all students. Students with disabilities, students who are English learners, and students who are in poverty are not being equitably served by charters. ELC looks forward to working with state officials to implement regulatory and legislative changes that rectify these problems.
Groups Push Commission to Fix PA Special Education Funding
The Special Education Funding Commission of the Pennsylvania legislature reconvened Aug. 27, for the first time in more than five years, to examine the impact of the 2014 funding formula that now directs state special education funding. ELC joined with the statewide PA Schools Work campaign to issue an open letter with a set of recommendations to the commission for addressing the continued state underfunding of special education.
 
Over the past decade, the state’s contribution to special education costs has dropped from a one-third share to less than 20%. The letter urges a “fuller and fairer allocation of funding for special education.” We encourage education advocates to join us in highlighting the resource needs of students with disabilities over the three-month period the commission is scheduled to convene.
ELC Co-Hosts Town Hall with Sen. Williams
ELC was proud to co-host a recent Education Telephone Town Hall with state Sen. Lindsey Williams. Attorney Cheryl Kleiman (right in photo) joined the senator to talk about a range of education equity issues as we head into the new school year, including the rights of students with disabilities, reforms to alternative education stemming from our recently settled U.S. Department of Justice complaint, and the need for adequate and equitable school funding.
Brief Challenges Placement of Children in Residential Facilities for Truancy
ELC, along with Juvenile Law Center, filed an amicus brief in support of a child’s petition for review in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in In re J.L. This dependency case challenges a judge’s decision to remove a child from his parents and place him in a residential institution based solely on the student’s non-attendance at school. ELC’s amicus brief underscores the need for judicial guidance to end the practice of removing children from their homes and diverting them to residential facilities as an intervention to address truancy. ELC cautions against placing children in residential settings away from home as an extreme and traumatic measure which places children at greater risk of negative life outcomes and causes them to further disengage from school.
Brief: Children Need Protection Under Human Relations Act
The Education Law Center has for the third time filed an amicus brief in  Nicole B. v. School District of Philadelphia, et al. , an appeal in a case involving a Philadelphia student who was relentlessly bullied because of his race and nonconformance with gender stereotypes. His school failed to intervene and allowed the bullying to escalate from verbal harassment to multiple physical assaults, and, ultimately, to rape. ELC has argued that students should have protection under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), Pennsylvania’s antidiscrimination law, when their school fails to intervene to stop ongoing harassment. Commonwealth Court in 2018 refused to consider the merits of the case because the student did not file his claim within 180 days of the incident. A legal doctrine known as minority tolling generally means that the time bar for bringing a child’s claim does not begin until the child turns 18, and ELC believes that it should apply in this case. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

ELC’s amicus brief , submitted to the Supreme Court on Aug. 5, was joined by Juvenile Law Center, Public Interest Law Center, Women’s Law Project, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, and professor Emily Suski.
Welcome Staff Attorney Paige Joki!
We are thrilled to announce that Paige Joki, who has been with ELC since 2017 as our Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellow, is now a staff attorney in our Philadelphia office. Paige's fellowship at ELC centered on eliminating individual and systemic barriers to quality education for students experiencing homelessness in the Philadelphia region.

Highlights of her just-completed fellowship include drafting an amicus brief in G.S. v. Rose Tree Media School District , resulting in the first appellate court ruling on the application of the federal McKinney-Vento Act in an educational context ‒ and a successful motion to make that ruling precedential as well as multiple cases brought on behalf of students experiencing homelessness. Paige also provided more than 30 “Know Your Rights” legal trainings and clinics for hundreds of students, parents, providers, and organizations serving students experiencing homelessness.

Originally from Boise, Idaho, Paige is a graduate of Whitman College and Temple University Beasley School of Law, where she was a Rubin-Presser Social Justice Fellow and was selected to be an NAACP Legal Defense Fund Earl Warren Fellow.
Paige Joki (front right) connects with youth at Evoluer House in August 2019 (photo courtesy Evoluer House).
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