By: Robin Roberts
What’s going on?
Curricular Complaint Process
In 2013, when the School District of Philadelphia massively cut services to it’s schools, Parents United for Public Education members organized an incredible drive which collected 825 complaints from over 70 schools. With assistance from Public Interest Law Center, those complaints were sent to Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). Together we initiated a lawsuit against PDE when there was little to no response concerning the complaints: Allen vs. Rivera. In December 2015, the School District of Philadelphia was found to be curricularly deficit in 4 of 4 cases that were presented: lack of individualized gifted programming, lack of foreign language in a 4 year series, lack of physical education and arts program. PDE required the District to provide a corrective action plan (link CAP) to address the curricular deficiencies found in those complaints. In October 2016, the Commonwealth Court ruled in our favor and agreed to a new policy promoting transparency in getting curricular complaints addressed by PDE. This was a huge win for parents to ensure that their concerns were being investigated by PDE.
For the four parents involved in this case, this win meant that those 4 schools were able to meet school code and regain curricular programs that were eliminated by the district. We want all of Philadelphia’s school students to have a high quality education that meets and exceeds PA school code. Unfortunately, even though there have been some additions to the bare bones educational programming, many schools are still not fulfilling that requirement and are still curricularly deficit.Ask yourself: Does your child have an individual gifted program? Do they have arts,foreign language, technology programming? Do they have an abundance of substitute teachers? Are they in an over crowded class (larger than 33) in key subjects: math, English, science? These some examples of what may be curricular deficiencies within the school.
In 2014, We worked with Media Mobilizing Project to develop an online process to file your complaint electronically directly to Pennsylvania Department of Education.
What can you do?
If you believe that your child is lacking in educational programming you have a right to file a formal complaint with the State Department of Education. They are required to investigate. It is time for parents, advocates, and students to exercise our legal rights.