School Funding: Our Lawsuit and PA Budget Impasse

Jamella and Bryant Miller, clients in the lawsuit, tell their story at our annual event
In September, in partnership with the Education Law Center and O'Melveny & Myers LLP, we filed our first appeal brief with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in our school funding lawsuit. We are asking the Court to decide that the constitutional violations alleged in our petition are matters that courts can decide, reverse the decision of the lower court, and send the case back to the lower court for a full trial.  Our petition alleges that state officials have violated their  constitutional obligation  to provide a "thorough and efficient system of public education" and that the present funding system violates the equal protection provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The state will submit its reply brief in November. We expect oral argument to take place in early 2016.

We also continue our advocacy efforts. This month, in partnership with the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, we submitted a formal request to Governor Tom Wolf and members of the general assembly urging them to promptly reach a budget agreement that increases education funding by at least $410 million.

NEW Vacant Land Toolkit

Philadelphia has tens of thousands of vacant parcels. For decades, many communities have tried to put these spaces back into productive use by growing gardens or farms or establishing open, community spaces. But too often gardeners, farmers and community members face challenges trying to gain legal access to new spaces or secure the legal protections they need to maintain their spaces. So, we created a comprehensive self guide for gardeners looking to maintain or create community spaces on vacant land. Through this guide, our community trainings, and, we are helping community members self advocate to secure access to vacant land.

Law Center Staff Honored

Amy Laura Cahn Receives the Trailblazer Award
Recently, several members of our staff have received  recognition for their work!

Amy Laura Cahn was honored with the Trailblazer Award from Bread & Roses for her environmental work in Philadelphia. At the same event, our client - Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition - was awarded the Community Empowerment Award. 


Amy Laura will also receive the Young Alumni Award from the University of Pennsylvania in November.

Ben Geffen and our pro bono partners from Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP received the Child Health Advocate Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics for their work in our Florida Medicaid Case. Former staff attorney Jim Eiseman was also recognized at the ceremony. 

On November 7, Michael Churchill will be given the Philadelphia Bar Foundation Award, which recognizes a public interest attorney who has dedicated his or her life to promoting equal access to justice.

In December, executive director Jennifer Clarke will be awarded the Edwin D. Wolf award from our sister organization, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, for her work strengthening the Law Center over the last eight years.

Disability Rights Clinic
11.06.15 @ 2 - 5 p.m.
We provide free information to people with disabilities on their rights and work incentives under the Americans with Disabilities Act at a monthly walk-in clinic. This month's clinic will be held at The Sierra Group at 714 Market Street in Philadelphia.

Welcome New Board and Staff

Judy Yun and Matthew Glazer
We are pleased to welcome Judy Yun of AstraZeneca, Matthew Glazer of Cozen O'Connor, and Michael McKeever of KML Law Group, P.C. to our Board of Directors. 

We are also excited that Daniel Urevick-Ackelsberg has joined our team as a staff attorney. Daniel worked at Community Legal Services and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission before serving two years as a law clerk. 

Sonja Kerr
Sadly, however, we will be saying goodbye to longtime staff attorney Sonja Kerr, who will be leaving the Law Center in early January 2016 to join The Cuddy Law Firm P.C. as National Director of Impact Litigation. Cuddy is a parent-side firm devoted to special education with offices in New York and Texas. Sonja will be resident in the Austin, Texas office. We'll miss you Sonja!

Thank you for an Amazing Annual Event!

Thank you so much to all attendees, sponsors and volunteers for making our Annual Event a special night. Special thanks to our Board of Directors and host committee, and our honorees H. Laddie Montague, Jr. and the clients in our School Funding Lawsuit. The night is one we won't soon forget! Check out a photo album by clicking "Learn More" below