Thank You for an Incredible 2015

Board member and pro bono partner Paul Saint-Antoine attending our art show with artist Jaither West
2015 was a banner year for the Public Interest Law Center, thanks to the support of people like you. From the more than 95 pro bono volunteers who served our clients, to the law firms, foundations, individuals and corporations who generously supported our work, thank you! All of the work we do on behalf of our clients is made possible by your support. Here's to an even better 2016!

PA Department of Education Declares Philly Schools Offer Deficient Curricula

Clients & Legal Team
In Case You Missed It: in December we celebrated a significant victory when the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) found curriculum deficiencies in four Philadelphia schoolsThese findings are a direct result of our lawsuit on behalf of parents in Philadelphia who filed complaints with PDE documenting the severe effects of state disinvestment in local schools. We brought this suit after PDE failed to respond to, or meaningfully investigate, more than 800 such complaints filed in 2013. Through discovery in the case, we learned that following our filing of the suit, PDE began taking responsibility to investigate and remedy complaints. PDE has ordered the School District of Philadelphia to create corrective action plans to remedy the deficiencies in the four schools. Our lawsuit will continue in order to ensure that PDE fulfills its full range of duties when it comes to responding to parent complaints.

 Special Education Conference: Discipline, Truancy and More
Join us in-person or via webinar on February 10 from 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. for a special education conference on the rights of students with special needs when it comes to discipline and truancy matters. This is a must-attend event for people that know and work with children with special needs, especially parents, teachers, attorneys, and advocates. Tickets cost $50 - $200, with a "Pay-What-You-Can" option. CLE credit is available for attorneys that attend in person.

Historic Deal Reached in Eastwick

The Eastwick Team
For the last four years we have worked with the Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition and Dechert LLP to advocate for a neighborhood planning process and return of a 135-acre parcel of land to the community. For decades, Eastwick residents have faced disinvestment and trauma after the neighborhood was the site of the nation's largest urban redevelopment project in the 1950s. In December, we helped Eastwick residents reach an enormous, years-in-the-making milestone: the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) and developer Korman Residential reached an historic agreement terminating the 50-year old Eastwick Redevelopment Agreement and returning control of the135 acres to the city. Now, we will continue to support Eastwick residents as they work with PRA and others to begin a long-awaited planning process.

Law Center Editorials

In December, executive director Jennifer Clarke commented on Justice Antonin Scalia's controversial remarks during a case challenging an admissions policy designed to enhance diversity at the University of Texas. As civil rights lawyers who represent African American students scarred by low expectations, we find Justice Scalia's rhetoric all too familiar.

Image from The Legal Intelligencer
In January, attorney Michael Churchill published an editorial about the role of Pennsylvania courts in school funding in The Legal Intelligencer. He wrote, "Pennsylvania courts have an honored history of protecting basic rights of citizens, and this is another time that cries out for the Supreme Court to do so." (Link requires a log-in to The Legal Intelligencer. We will soon republish the article on our website)

Keep an Eye on Our Website 

Thanks to generous support from The Philadelphia Foundation, in the coming months we will redesign our website: This grant is awarded from the Eleanor Kiefer Fund, the Ada Wessel Fund, the Rosalie Halmi Markovcy and Frank Brody Markovcy Fund, the Sidney N. Repplier Fund, and the Grace Hamill Memorial Fund.  In addition to funding our new website, this grant will also help us create new brochures and materials featuring our new logo. 
Disability Rights Clinic
Do you have a disability or health condition? Think you've faced discrimination? Need an accommodation at work, school, or from your doctor or landlord? Attend a free clinic and learn about work incentives and your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Introducing New Ex Officio Board Members

Left: Mary Platt; Right: Erin Lamb
Each year the Law Center's bylaws provide a wonderful infusion of talent by designating ex officio board members. This year, we welcome Mary Platt as the Vice-Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association and Erin Lamb as the Chair of the Young Lawyers Division of the Philadelphia Bar Association. We also say thanks and farewell to Albert Dandridge, who served as an ex officio member during his time as Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association. 

Board Member of the Month

Congratulations to January board member of the month Nicholas Chimicles of Chimicles & Tikellis LLP. He has served on the board for more than 10 years and has played a critical role in helping the Law Center grow and stabilize. Of his time on the board, he said, "I serve on a number of non-profit boards, but I do not think there is a harder working and more committed board than the Law Center's. And the energy at the board level is driven by the unparalleled dedication of the staff under Jennifer Clarke's leadership which has as its sole objective the improvement of  the lives of ordinary citizens in Philadelphia and beyond by leveling the playing field in the judicial system."

Access to Medicaid in Florida

Malik Staton, Photo: Rachel S. O'Hara of the Herald-Tribune
Two million children living in poverty in Florida face serious obstacles getting basic medical and dental care, even though federal Medicaid law requires states to provide prompt and effective treatment services. For more than a decade, we have litigated to increase access to services for these kids. While our fight for these children goes on, tremendous work is being done through other outlets in Florida is well. We encourage you to read this article by Maggie Clark of the Herald-Tribune, which describes the plight of 12-year-old Malik Staton, who nearly died because of the health care system that Florida has in place.