ELC Testimony to Auditor General: Charter Schools Underserving At-Risk Students
Education Law Center Attorney David Lapp's March 7, 2014 testimony at the Pennsylvania Auditor General's hearing highlights significant demographic disparities when comparing brick-and-mortar charter schools as a whole in Philadelphia to the School District of Philadelphia schools.
"In general, we found that brick and mortar charter schools in Philadelphia are underserving students with severe disabilities, English language learners, and students in poverty. The result is that these students are often more heavily concentrated in the neighborhood schools operated by the School District of Philadelphia," said Lapp.
Contacting DOJ about alternative ed discrimination
Based on the Education Law Center's legal complaint, the U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into discriminatory placement of students in Pennsylvania's Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth programs.
The Law Center's August 2013 complaint cites four years worth of Pennsylvania data showing a disproportionately high number of students with disabilities and African American students are removed from traditional public schools and sent to educationally inferior AEDY or similar alternative education programs, often in violation of federal laws.
Parents, students, caregivers, social service professionals, and others who have had experience with Pennsylvania's Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth programs can contact DOJ directly to help in their investigation. [email protected]
Philly district orders school police to stay out of level 1 offenses
Statisticians record and categorize incidents at Philadelphia schools, providing the data needed for security planning. (Emma Lee/for NewsWorks)
Kevin McCorry, Newsworks - March 25, 2014
Philadelphia School District has directed school police officers to stop responding to calls related to Level 1 student conduct offenses. The proscribed violations range from "failure to follow classroom rules" to "truancy" to "verbal altercations" to "inappropriate touching/public displays of affection."
"These infractions are not criminal offenses; they are classroom/student management issues," wrote District Chief Inspector Carl W. Holmes to school administrators and school police in a memo dated March 10, 2014.
The memo states that school police should "respond to all calls that are criminal in nature, or where persons involved are violent or threatening."
In the event of other incidents, officers should "request the presence of an administrator, counselor, or administrative designee."