Lawsuit Filed Against School District of Philadelphia's Failure to Support Families with Limited English Proficiency

"The school wouldn't give me information in Spanish; they didn't seem to care. I couldn't understand what the District was telling me. They did not help me or my child so that she could do well in school." -Barbara Galarza, parent and named plaintiff, as said through an interpreter 

An estimated 25,000 families in the School District of Philadelphia do not speak English as their primary language and without translation and interpretation services, many of these families cannot fully support their children's educational planning. Together with Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP and the Education Law Center, we filed a federal class action lawsuit that alleges that thousands of these parents and their children are illegally denied the opportunity to participate in the special education process because the district systemically fails to provide the translation and interpretation services required by law.

Ensuring Fair Employment for People with Criminal Records 

Together with Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity and Willig, Williams & Davidson, we recently helped our client Marc Kitchens settle an employment discrimination case against his former employer for its decision to fire him after two years of successful employment because they learned about an old, unrelated criminal record. Here is Marc in his own words about his experience:  "I paid my debt to society for a previous mistake and I did everything the right way. I got my affairs in order, started school, and got a steady job. I started at the lowest possible position and worked hard, earned promotions, and got great recommendations from company executives. But at the end of the day, all of that didn't matter, and it was really unfair that I was let go because of my past record." 

Wolf Administration Moves to Offer Online Voter Registration

Pennsylvania took an important first step in allowing some eligible voters the opportunity to register online. While we laud the Wolf Administration for this step, it is only a small one; we must continue to press the Administration and the legislature to open online voter registration to every person who is eligible.

2015 Annual Event
In Pursuit of the Promise: Education for All
09.29.15 @ 6 - 8:30 p.m.
Honoring H. Laddie Montague and School Funding Lawsuit Clients

Amy Laura Cahn, Eastwick Clients to be Honored by Bread & Roses

Staff attorney Amy Laura Cahn will be honored by the Bread & Roses Community Fund at its 2015 Tribute to Change event on October 1. Amy Laura will receive the Trailblazer Award for her environmental justice work in Philadelphia. Her clients, the Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition, will also be honored with the Community Empowerment Award for its more than three years of hard work and commitment to stop unwanted development, address environmental injustices, and build the capacity of Eastwick residents to advocate and plan for their southwest Philadelphia neighborhood.  

School Funding 
Lawsuit Update

We are in the process of preparing briefs to submit to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. We will file our brief by September 18. The state and legislators will then have 45 days to respond. We will keep you posted throughout the fall. 

Outside the Frame Art Show & Open House
10.20.15 @ 5 - 7 p.m.
Join us for a free art exhibit featuring work from artists with disabilities as part of our Disability Employment Discrimination Project.

Comments Submitted on Proposed Medicaid Rule

We partnered with Duane Morris LLP to represent Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) in urging the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to strengthen a proposed rule that seeks to improve health care coverage for millions of people. Our submitted comments note our general support of the proposed rule, and outline our concerns about how the rule fails to ensure provider networks are adequately coordinated to treat all children.

Back to School Special Education Seminar
10.20.15 @ 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Join us for our first special education conference of the 2015-2016 school year.

Keir Bradford-Grey to Join Board of Directors

In September, Keir Bradford-Grey will replace Ellen Greenlee as the new chief defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. In doing so, she will also become an ex-officio member of our board of directors. We welcome Ms. Bradford-Grey to our board of directors and look forward to collaborating with her. 

Pro Bono Partner of the Month: Ryan Hancock

Special thank you to our pro bono partner of the month, Ryan Hancock of Willig, Williams & Davidson! Co-founder and board chair of Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity, Ryan played a huge role in our recent Marc Kitchens employment discrimination case. About working with the Law Center, he said, "I first became aware of the Public Interest Law Center when I was assistant chief counsel of the Commonwealth's civil rights agency (PHRC) where I saw first hand the Law Center's innovative and effective approach to representing often marginalized communities. Working with the Law Center also enables me to think deeper about using the traditional legal system for systemic change."