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Board of Directors

Eric J. RothschildBoard Chair

Pepper Hamilton LLP


Melissa A. Wojtylak, Treasurer

Reed Smith LLP


Scott Bennett Freemann, Secretary

Freemann Law Offices


Danielle Banks

Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young LLP


Richard L. Bazelon

Bazelon Less & Feldman


Anna M. Bryan

White and Williams LLP


Nicholas E. Chimicles

Chimicles & Tikellis


William H. Ewing


Joseph B.G. Fay

Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP


Brian T. Feeney

Greenberg Traurig LLP


H. Robert Fiebach

Cozen O'Connor


Howard R. Flaxman

Fox Rothschild LLP


Ellen S. Friedell

Reaching Agreement ADR LLC


George G. Gordon

Dechert LLP


Stacy L. Hawkins

Diversity Consultant

Rutgers School of Law - Camden


Marilyn Heffley

Sunoco, Inc.


Donald K. Joseph

Rutgers School of Law - Camden


Aliza R. Karetnick

Duane Morris LLP


Joseph W. "Chip" Marshall, III

Stevens & Lee


Marciene S. Mattleman

After School Activities Partnership

KYW Newsradio


Sharon F. McKee

Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin


H. Laddie Montague, Jr.

Berger & Montague PC


Carlos S. Montoya



Derek Redcross, CPA

Redcross Associates


Paul H. Saint-Antoine

Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP


David Smith

Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP


Marc A. Topaz

Barroway Topaz Kessler Meltzer & Check, LLP


Shelly D. Yanoff

Public Citizens for Children & Youth




Brandi Brice

Barristers' Association of Philadelphia 


Carolyn M. Chopko, Chair

Young Lawyers' Division of the Philadelphia Bar Association


Rachel Gallegos

Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania


Rudolph Garcia, Chancellor

Philadelphia Bar Association


Ellen T. Greenlee

Defender Association of Philadelphia


John Savoth, Chancellor-Elect
Philadelphia Bar Association


Djung Tran

Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania


Kathleen D. Wilkinson, Vice Chancellor

Philadelphia Bar Association


In This Issue:
Updates in Special Ed. Cases
Changes in Law Center Staff
Michael Churchill Testifies on Pa. Constitution
Adam Cutler to Advise Dept. of Public Health Program
Sonja Kerr Published in The Clinical Neuropsychologist
New Report on School Funding, Ed. Budget Slashed
Participate in Research on IEP Facilitation
Victory for People in State Institutions
Parents: Join a School Advisory Council!
Support the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act
Meet Our Volunteers!
Upcoming Events
Letter from the Executive Director

This month, I want to salute young people who, once again, are becoming a potent political force. I think of the college students from around Pennsylvania whose voices are thundering through the state capitol - and are being heard - as they protest the proposed 50% cuts to the state college system.

There is the courage of our young African American students in the Lower Merion School District, who, along with their parents, are combating excessive placement of African American students in special education. (We all shared a burst of pride last week when one youngster, formerly in special education, brought home As and Bs, one in an honors class.) There is the group of young activists in Philadelphia who have brought to the forefront the harmful and unnecessary discrimination against people - mostly African American men - who once had a conviction but now, decades after serving their time, still cannot get a job.

All of these examples inspire mightily - and they challenge us, too.  Those of us who are not so young must be generous with our experience, make available leadership opportunities, and share our connections. And to the young, committed activists, I challenge you to keep using your power: call your legislator or your school board or your mayor when there is an issue of concern to you - it works. Call your friends and have them call, too. Vote. Most immediately, to those of you travelling to Harrisburg to protest cuts in college funding, think also about your younger brothers and sisters: as long as your legislators are listening, tell them that they also must reject that proposed $1 billion in cuts to K-12 public education! 

Here at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, we know that we can't achieve our goals alone. We need all of you - your advocacy, your volunteer hours, your good guidance, and your generous financial support. Thank you!     



Very truly yours, 


jenny sig
Jennifer R. Clarke
Executive Director
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Motion for Preliminary Injunction Filed in Florida Medicaid Case
ARCoverOn Tuesday, March 8th, the plaintiffs in a case on behalf of nearly two million Florida children enrolled in or eligible for Medicaid filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, asking the court to provide the plaintiffs preliminary relief while the rest of the case is tried. Law Center attorney Jim Eiseman and a team of attorneys from the Ft. Lauderdale office of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, LLP, led by Stuart H. Singer and Carl E. Goldfarb are representing the plaintiffs in the case.

The motion asks the federal court to stop Florida's Medicaid program from using purely budgetary considerations in setting rates paid to physicians and instead to set those rates in accordance with federal law requiring prompt and equal access to care, and it asks the court to increase the rates paid to dentists so that they are at the 50th percentile of usual and customary charges in the private market.

The motion points out that rates paid to Florida's dentists for Medicaid patients have only been increased 13% in the last 24 years, and over the same period dentists' costs have increased at more than four times that rate. As a result, only one in five children enrolled in Medicaid in Florida today receives even minimal dental care. The court is still considering the motion.

Read the motion. 

Board of Directors Update: New Chair Elected & New Members Welcomed 

Eric RothschildAt the March meeting of the Law Center's Board of Directors, Eric J. Rothschild (right) was unanimously elected to serve as the Board's new Chair. Mr. Rothschild, a partner at Pepper Hamilton LLP and a member of the firm's Health Effects Litigation and Commercial Litigation practice groups, previously served as the Board's Vice Chair and has been instrumental in guiding the Law Center through its strategic planning process. Mr. Rothschild is also deeply involved in his firm's pro bono practice, his best known case being Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, the first case in the nation to determine that  "intelligent design" cannot be introduced into the curriculum of public high school science classes.


Carlos MontoyaThe Law Center would also like to welcome a number of new people to its Board! Carlos Montoya and Joseph "Chip" Marshall, III, were elected to the Board in February. Mr. Montoya (right) serves as Assistant General Counsel at ARAMARK, and joins the Board after serving as an ex-officio member in his capacity as Vice President of the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania.  


Chip Marshall

Mr. Marshall (left) is the Vice Chairman of Stevens & Lee and Griffin Financial Group LLC, previously having served as Chairman and CEO of the Temple University Health System. He has long been active in a number of civic and governmental organizations including the Gaming Control Board, the Medicaid Commission, and  the Temple University Board of Trustees.
Rachel Gallegos and Brandi Brice also join the Board of Directors as ex-officio members representing the Hispanic Bar Association and the Barristers' Association of Philadelphia, respectively. Ms. Gallegos is the Court Administrator responsible for Philadelphia's highly acclaimed Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program. Ms. Brice is an Associate Professor of Legal Studies at Peirce Business College. 

Special Education Case Updates

Federal Court: Court has power to enforce orders by due process hearing officers

On February 2, Judge Harvey Bartle III denied a Lower Merion School District (LMSD) motion to dismiss a student's complaint alleging that LMSD failed to implement previously ordered educational relief. After a due process hearing, a hearing officer awarded to LMSD student W.J.W. (a named plaintiff in the Blunt case) an extra year of educational services, including a transition plan and placement in a public high school, tutoring program, or a private school.  

Read more / Read the full decision.


LMSD Ordered to Provide Compensatory Education 

In March, another LMSD student represented by the Law Center (B.D.) was awarded compensatory education by an administrative hearing officer. B.D. is a student with average intelligence, but whose behaviors impeded his learning. The hearing officer found that although LMSD recognized that there was a need to help B.D. with his behavior, it made no attempt to conduct an assessment or to create an individualized plan for him.  

Read moreRead the full decision. 


LMSD Ordered to Provide Compensatory Ed., Reimburse for Evaluation 

LMSD student G.J. is a student with average intelligence whose parents disagreed with the evaluation of him completed by the school and asked LMSD to pay for an independent evaluation. After LMSD refused, a hearing officer ruled that LMSD parents are entitled to an independent  evaluation because the school evaluation did not include input from G.J.'s parents or any in-class observation.  

Read moreRead the full decision. 


Alaska SD Ordered to Provide Ed. Services & Air Transportation to School  

In Alaska, a Hearing Officer ordered the Southwest Region School District to pay for C.O., a client of the Law Center's, to fly to a neighboring village three times a week for schooling. They must also fully implement C.O.'s IEP after almost two years of failing to do so, and the Hearing Officer noted that if the district fails to comply, he will order them to pay for C.O. and his mother to live in Anchorage at the district's expense.  

Read moreRead the full decision. 

New Faces in the Law Center's Development Staff
The Law Center's Development Director of three years, Lauren Mirowitz, has moved on to a new position working for the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. She will be greatly missed, and we wish her all the best! Taylor Goodman


But as we say goodbye to Lauren, we would also like to welcome Taylor Goodman (right), who will fill the Development Director position, and Dave Dave HanyokHanyok (left), our new Communications Assistant, to the Law Center's staff! Taylor, who graduated from Haverford College in 2009, has worked on the development staffs of LEADERSHIP Philadelphia and the Energy Coordinating Agency. Dave, a 2010 graduate of Brown University, joined the staff full-time in March following a six-month internship at the Law Center.
Law Center Attorney Recommends Education Amendments to Pa. 
Michael Testifying
Constitutional Review Commission
On Wednesday, March 16th, Law Center attorney Michael Churchill testified before the Public Education Subcommittee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Constitutional Review Commission at Widener Law School in Harrisburg, Pa. Invited to discuss shortcomings in the current state constitution as it pertains to public education and to recommend revisions, Churchill focused on the fact that the courts have declined  to enforce the Constitution's mandate for a "thorough and efficient" public school system, and on the inequality built into in the school funding system by the low proportion of school funding provided by the state.
Read more about the hearing.
Law Center Attorney to Advise Dept. of Public Health's Air Management ServicesSmokestacks
Adam Cutler, Director of the Public Health and Environmental Justice Clinic at the Law Center, has accepted an invitation to participate in the development of a five-year strategic plan for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health's Air Management Services (AMS), which monitors air pollutants and enforces city, state and federal air quality standards in Philadelphia. Stakeholders will convene in May and again in June to discuss how AMS can improve its efforts, adapt to future circumstances, and ultimately protect the people of Philadelphia from harmful air pollutants.
Read more. 
Article By Law Center Attorney Sonja Kerr Accepted to The 
Clinical Neuropsychologist
An article co-written by Law Center attorney Sonja Kerr with Dr. Felicia Hurewitz, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Drexel University, has been accepted for publication in The Clinical Neuropsychologist. The article, "The role of the independent neuropsychologist in special education," outlines a number of legal concepts and practical considerations that pediatric neuropsychologists should consider when conducting independent evaluations in an education context. The article is expected to be published online in April and in print soon thereafter. 
Report Issued on Importance of State Education Funding as Governor's Budget Proposes Massive Cuts 

The Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign, a coalition of more than 30 local, state and regional education advocacy groups  pushing for adequate and equitable funding of Pennsylvania public schools, released a status report in February documenting a correlation between increased school funding in Pennsylvania and increased student achievement and describing the continued need for increased public school funding. (Read the report here.)


Unfortunately, Governor Corbett has proposed a budget that, far from aspiring to fully fund education, slashes the state's contribution to public schools at every level. The $1 billion cut in public education funding (view details here) will leave students without needed resources and exacerbate the inequalities that already plague our school system.


Read more here about the Law Center's position, and please contact your representatives to voice your support for public schools!

ODR Research on IEP Facilitation
Dr. Tracy Mueller of the University of Northern Colorado is conducting research on IEP Facilitation, a recently developed dispute resolution method currently employed in Pennsylvania, and she is interested in speaking with Pennsylvania parents and educators who have participated in IEP Facilitation within the last two years. Participation by parents and educators will help guide future refinement of the IEP Facilitation service. 
Parents and educators who are interested in participating in this research project and would like more information should contact Dr. Mueller at (970) 351-1664 or tracy.mueller@unco.edu 
A Victory for People with Disabilities Confined
in State Institutions 
Pennhurst Dining Hall
The Disabilities Rights Network has won a major victory in the effort to end the practice of segregating people with disabilities in large institutions rather than providing them with the services necessary to live in community settings. In Benjamin v. the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Honorable John E. Jones III ruled that the state has violating the law by failing to make a comprehensive plan to move all current residents who qualify for community placement out of state-funded institutions. 
Parents: Get Involved In School Advisory Councils!
Renaissance School Advisory Councils
View the flyer for more information

The Law Center is pleased to share information about an opportunity for parents, students, community members, and educators to get involved in an initiative to help shape Philadelphia Renaissance Schools. Advisory Council members will be responsible for making recommendations to select school turnaround teams, helping to plan the changeover to a Renaissance School, monitoring Renaissance School progress toward performance targets for students, and advising on instruction, curriculum, school safety, budgeting, extrcurricular programs, and parent-community engagement.


To get involved, contact Rachel Bowers at (215) 384-6252 or rachelbowers19@gmail.com  

Support the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act!
In 2006, the Supreme Court decided that parents who prevail in special education cases cannot obtain expert witness fees from the defense. Recently, several members of the Senate and Congress introduced the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act, which would reauthorize such recoveries for parents caught in litigation. Please contact your elected representatives in support of this bill! (Read the act as introduced in the Senate.)

Volunteer Lenore BushlinMeet our Featured Volunteer, Lenore Bushlin!

The Law Center's day-to-day operations rely in large part on the hard work of its wonderful volunteers. A big thank you to our volunteers and interns for their contributions to the Law Center's success! This month we're featuring Lenore Bushlin, who helps out at the Law Center working at our front desk. 


Outside of the Law Center, Lenore works in a public library and in a law firm library, and she has also worked in university libraries in the past. Busy with volunteer work, Lenore also volunteers with the Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  


Please join the Law Center staff in thanking Lenore and all of our other volunteers for their immense contributions to the Law Center's mission! 

Join Us at These Upcoming Events:

Earth Day Every Day: Extending Environmental Justice to All
When: Friday, April 22, 9:00am-1:00pm
Where: United Way Building, 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia PA
Cost: $50 for general admission, $100 for attorneys. (3.5 CLE credits are available.) 
Contact: Email Dave Hanyok for more information and/or to request a scholarship.
To celebrate Earth Day this year, the Law Center is hosting a training session on Environmental Justice for environmental lawyers, advocates, and EJ community members. The session will discuss the history of the EJ movement (with special attention paid to local cases in Chester, Camden, and Philadelphia), current legal theories for Environmental Justice litigation, and using non-litigation strategies such as community organizing, advocacy, and negotiation to achieve EJ goals. This session will provide you with concrete tools for protecting EJ communities from further environmental abuse and for crafting a positive vision for their economic and environmental revitalization.

Inclusive Programming & Transition Plans
When: Friday, April 29, 12-4 p.m.
Where: United Way Building, 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia PA
Cost: $100; $200 for attorneys; scholarships and multiple-course discounts are available
Contact: Email Dave Hanyok for more information and/or to request a scholarship. 
This session will cover how to ensure specially designed instruction with supplemental aids and services without your child having to leave the classroom, and it will teach you the nuts and blots of a meaningful transition plan.


The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia is dedicated to advancing the Constitutional promise of equal citizenship to all persons irrespective of race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, gender or poverty. We use public education, continuing education of our clients and client organizations, research, negotiation and, when necessary, the courts to achieve systemic reforms that advance the central goals of self-advocacy, social justice and equal protection of the law for all members of society. www.pilcop.org

The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia is a registered charitable organization. A copy of the official registration may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free within Pennsylvania 1.800.732.0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.