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Parents United sends hundreds of complaints to PA Secty. of Education

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Today, Parents United for Public Education and the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia fed-exed 260 individual complaints to the PA Secretary of Education about program and curriculum deficiencies we believe to be in violation of the Pennsylvania code. We expect to mail over 130 claims at the end of this week. Nearly 400 complaints were collected within three weeks time and are a clear indicator of the scope of harm happening to public school children in Philadelphia.
Under the Pennsylvania state code, the Secretary of Education must investigate each complaint and correct any deficiencies that may be found.
Among the complaints:
  • a third grade student who became homeless and lacks a full-time guidance counselor to offer services and supports required under the McKinney-Vento Act;
  • a parent of a student in emotional distress whose guidance counselor is present only two hours one day a week;
  • a parent whose first grader is in a separate annex building which used to have an assistant principal and now has no supervisory or administrative staff;
  • a parent whose primary grade child is denied any arts programming even though the state code mandates arts instruction including art, music, dance and theater that meets “rigorous academic standards” for every student  in every year at the primary grade level;
  • a parent of a 12th grade student who cannot access required transcripts in a timely manner for college applications because her school, which once had two full-time guidance counselors, is now down to one part-time counselor;
  • parents at a school where the new library is shut down because of a lack of a librarian. The PA code states that every child in every year at the intermediate level shall have “understanding  and use of library and other information sources.”
  • elimination of gifted support programs for students with G-IEPs

The documentation of the direct harm of irrational and arbitrary budget cuts demands immediate relief from the state. Gov. Tom Corbett today sits on $45 million in federal funds designated for Philadelphia which he refuses to release. This arbitrary action results in the denial of a basic education guaranteed in the Pennsylvania state code and constitution.

In conjunction with the Media Mobilizing Project, we have developed an online complaint form available at:

http://www.myphillyschools.com

Numerous organizations citywide are supporting this effort to help families and others file formal complaints with the state, including Offices of City Council members Bill Green and Maria Quinones Sanchez, Philly Counselors United, BPSOS-Delaware Valley, the Philadelphia Home and School Council, Action United, PCAPS, NAACP-Philadelphia branch, and others.

If you would like someone to come to your school or community event, please contact us. Read more about this effort here.

Thanks to all the parents and community members who have helped volunteer time and energy for this effort. Let’s make sure we hold the state accountable for upholding its duty to all Philadelphia’s school children.
Read more:
Associated Press (as shown in San Francisco Chronicle): “Philly parents send complaints to Education Dept.”
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