Education Law Center | October Newsletter
President Obama declared October as National Youth Justice Awareness Month. It's so important to have a national focus on the needs of vulnerable youth. ELC's work to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and provide access to a quality public education for all children intersects with many of the priorities outlined in the President's proclamation, available here. Read below to learn about our recent work. 
This month, we rededicate ourselves to preventing youth from entering the juvenile and criminal justice systems and recommit to building a country where all our daughters and sons can grow, flourish, and take our Nation to new and greater heights.
-- President Barack Obama
Spring Valley High School incident shows the need to prioritize prevention initiatives
We are deeply troubled by the recent incident of police brutality at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina. While what happened at Spring Valley may feel distant, such an incident could happen in Pennsylvania where we have just under 2000 school based law enforcement, all of whom have zero state training requirements particular to schools or students. We call on lawmakers to prioritize prevention initiatives that support our students' needs in place of harsh discipline policies and school-based law enforcement. Further, Pennsylvania should require all school-based law enforcement to be trained on developmentally appropriate, race-positive, gender-responsive, trauma-informed interventions.
ELC attorney trains nearly 100 law students to represent families
This month ELC Staff Attorney David Lapp conducted an introductory training for law students interested in joining the Student Discipline Advocacy Service, which provides free advocacy services for Philadelphia-area families in school discipline matters. He covered the basics of school discipline law in Pennsylvania, including requirements of due process and the scope of public school authority to punish students for misconduct, practical tips for organizing and assessing a new case, and general strategies to prepare for a hearing. Nearly 100 law students from Temple, Penn and Villanova Law Schools attended.

ELC Co-Hosts Forum on Racial Disproportionality in Student Discipline
ELC co-hosted a panel discussion and community forum with the University of Pittsburgh School of Education's Center for Urban Education on racial disproportionality in school discipline and academic achievement. Hosted at Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh, Staff Attorney Cheryl Kleiman participated in the panel and advocated for reduced exclusionary discipline, alternative education, and police in schools to address the race, gender, and disability disparities in Pennsylvania.
ELC releases community survey on challenges to education faced by children experiencing homelessness
Through ELC's new initiative, the Homeless Education Advocacy Program, ELC is developing a series of legal clinics and advocacy trainings to be provided in shelters across Philadelphia. In order to ensure that these trainings and legal clinics are offered where they are most useful to the community and to learn more about current issues, we have designed a short survey to identify the barriers to school success for children and youth experiencing homelessness. If you have any questions regarding this project, please contact ELC Philly Fellow Samyuktha Natarajan at 267-262-5670 or via email at [email protected]We are also very grateful to the Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) which has permitted ELC to participate in several HAP legal clinics as part of this endeavor. 

View and share our survey on barriers to school success for children and youth experiencing homelessness.
ELC joins Sen. Casey for event focused on youth homelessness
On Monday, October 26th, ELC participated in a press conference held by U.S. Senator Bob Casey to highlight the needs of youth experiencing homelessness. The conference shed light on the huge number of Philadelphia youth who are couch-surfing, without a secure place to return to each night and their acute need for housing and education support.  Under current federal law, these older youth - many of whom have aged out of foster care - are not recognized as homeless and are unable to access housing vouchers. 

The Philadelphia Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators recognized ELC's work to ensure a quality public education for Pennsylvania's children at their 40th Anniversary Celebration this month. We were honored to be selected by the Chapter and congratulate them on four decades of service to the legal profession!
ELC Fellow presents to law students on the school-to-prison pipeline
ELC's Stoneleigh Foundation Emerging Leader Fellow Ashley Sawyer presented to students at the New York University Law School about education issues facing children in the juvenile justice system and the school-to-prison pipeline, through which vulnerable students are pushed out of schools into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. 

Pro bono partner honored for work with ELC on behalf of students with disabilities
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP was honored this month with the 2015 Pro Bono Achievement Award by the Allegheny County Bar Foundation in recognition of the years of pro bono service with the Education Law Center on behalf of parents and students with disabilities in Allegheny County. We thank the dedicated team of pro bono attorneys in Pittsburgh for your commitment and service in furtherance of our shared mission to ensure access to a quality public education for all students. Congratulations to all of this year's honorees! 
Vernisha is an amazing youth who graduated from high school despite the odds. Formerly in foster care, Vernisha had great dreams for her future. But when she applied to a national education program, she was devastated after she was rejected for being unable to produce her high school diploma or education records. Vernisha had a picture of her diploma and even a photo of herself on graduation day, but the charter school she attended had closed abruptly and lost her records. She was told she would have to re-enroll in and complete high school courses and then re-apply to the program.

ELC intervened on her behalf by submitting a letter explaining the details of the school closure and providing independent verification of her graduation based on social service records. We are happy to report that Vernisha has now been accepted into the program and is very excited to begin pursuing her dreams!
Philadelphia Bar Association honors ELC Executive Director and three other new public interest leaders
ELC Executive Director Deborah Gordon Klehr joined Chief Defender Keir Bradford-Grey of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, Executive Director Deborah Freedman of Community Legal Services, and Executive Director Susan V. Mangold of Juvenile Law Center at a reception hosted by the Philadelphia Bar Association. We're excited to continue working alongside these excellent public interest organizations and their new leaders to improve the lives of the community's most vulnerable populations. 
Join the Campaign for Fair Education Funding
Alongside 50 organizations across Pennsylvania, ELC is a leading member of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. Read more on our efforts to ensure that every student has access to a quality education no matter where he or she lives. As the budget impasse continues and our schools remain unfunded, we urge you to join the Campaign
America is a Nation of second chances, and justice means giving every young person a fair shot -- regardless of what they look like or what zip code they were born into.

-- President Barack Obama
Ensuring access to a quality public education for all children in Pennsylvania
Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  View our profile on LinkedIn