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In This Issue:                                                                 August 2012

ChesterSettlementSettlement Approved in Chester-Upland


In a settlement approved August 15, 2015, U.S. Federal District Court Judge Michael Baylson paved the way for significant improvements in the quality of special education in the Chester-Upland School District. "This case has now ended not only with more money for the District, but more promise and potential for the students. Every student with disabilities in the District has the potential to succeed academically, graduate high school, and become a productive adult. Because this fair settlement agreement will help each of those students realize that potential, the Court gladly approves it."


The settlement brought an end to litigation that began when, in January 2012, the District "faced with the catastrophic possibility that its empty coffers would necessitate closing school mid-year," sued Department of Education officials. The Law Center intervened on behalf of a class of all children with disabilities, arguing that the financial distress was preventing the children from receiving a free and appropriate public education.
The settlement included an agreement by the Commonwealth to provide the District with approximately $35 million: $4 million for operating expenses in the 2011-12 school year and $31 million to repay past debt and to fund operating expenses for the 2012-13 school year. The agreement also requires improvements to the school district's special education services.The District must hire a Director of Special Education, an additional Special Education Supervisor, school psychologists, a Special Education Assistant for ACCESS funds, guidance counselors, and additional special education staff members. The State also must appoint and pay for a Special Education Officer who will be in the district daily and has explicit authority to ensure children receive a free appropriate public education and to oversee and assist with improvements in special education in the critical areas of deficiency. Read more


Attention Parents: The settlement expressly preserves your rights to seek compensatory education through due process hearings for failures by the district in past years. Click here for more information and resources.

Gala2012 Social Justice Gala:
Progress through Partnerships


 Join us as we celebrate the work of our outstanding pro bono partners!

We will present the 5th Annual Thaddeus Stevens Award to Dechert LLP for the firm's tremendous pro bono commitment to the Law Center's clients.


The event will feature Master of Ceremonies Renee Chenault-Fattah, a live and silent auction, and music by a band of Dechert alumni!


Tickets are available for a discounted price until

Labor Day, so RSVP today!

CLE"Know Your Child's Rights!" Special Education Seminars Are Back!

 Sonja Teaching

The Law Center's year-long "Know Your Child's Rights!" series continues in 2012-2013 with 10 seminars focusing on special education rights and services and how to secure them. Seminars are intended for parents, special education advocates, educators, attorneys, and others who are in a position to help children with disabilities receive an appropriate education. CLE and Act 48 credits are available.


The first session, "Back to School" is September 18, 2012, 12-4pm. The seminar will feature an update on the state of special education law and a discussion of the most pressing issues facing students with disabilities as the new school year begins. For more information or to register, click here.


See the full calendar of 2012-2013 seminars.

zoningPhiladelphia's New Zoning Code 


On Wednesday, August 22, 2012, Philadelphia's new zoning code went into effect.  You  can find detailed outlines of the changes that come with the new code here and here Central ClubFor urban agriculture, the new code represents a sea change, recognizing urban agriculture as a land use category for the first time in at least 50 years.  In fact, community garden and market farming are allowed as of right in most neighborhoods throughout the city.  In anticipation of the implementation of the new code and with guidance from city agencies, the Law Center's Garden Justice Legal Initiative has developed a primer on zoning and permitting of urban agriculture in Philadelphia.


The new code provides more opportunities for urban agriculture in more neighborhoods, but there may still be tinkering that needs to be done.  For example, you'll read that the City's $125 one time use registration fee is per lot -- even for uses permitted as of right -- that would seem to be prohibitively expensive for larger gardens and farms.  In addition, it may take some time and additional advocacy
to ensure these newly permitted uses are recognized.
Please let us know if you see opportunities for advocacy to make sure that the new zoning code lives up to the goal of promoting a greener and healthier city.

VolunteersThe Law Center is Looking for Volunteers!


The Law Center is seeking a volunteer Event Coordinator to market, organize, and  facilitate our program of special education law training seminars for Karen & Jimparents, teachers, advocates and attorneys.


The ideal candidate is interested in nonprofit administration, marketing, special education/disability rights, and event planning, and has excellent organization and communication skills. College or graduate students as well as recent graduates are welcome to apply. Business, marketing & sales experience are helpful, and an entrepreneurial spirit is a plus!


The full job description is available here.


Applicants should submit a resume and cover letter (indicating available days, times, and preferred start date) to:
Jennifer Clarke, Executive Director Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 2nd Floor Philadelphia, PA 19103 jclarke@pilcop.org or 267-546-1302.


Please help us spread the word! 

VoterIDVoter ID Update: On to the Supreme Court!


The Law Center continues its fight against the Voter ID law on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who stand to lose their Constitutional right to vote this November. Just one day after the Commonwealth Court denied our motion for preliminary injunction, we filed a Notice of Appeal, which included a motion for an expedited schedule to ensure that the Supreme Court's decision can be implemented before the election. We are currently awaiting a scheduling order from the Court. We will be updating our website and facebook as soon as more details are available.


You can help combat this law by informing people about its requirements and helping them get ID! Contact the Voter ID Coalition for more information.


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