Post-Trial Arguments Conclude, School Funding Case to be Decided (July 30, 2022)

On July 26, 2022, post-trial arguments were held in Commonwealth Court for William Penn School District, et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Education, et al., a case filed in 2014 that challenges how Pennsylvania funds its public schools.

The case centers on  plaintiff arguments that the current funding for Pennsylvania’s public schools violates the state constitution, which states that the legislature “shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.” Plaintiffs also claim that funding disparities among school districts violates the state constitution’s version of an equal protections clause.

The case is now in the hands of the court and is expected to be decided in the next few months.  

Source: WHYY

PDE Releases 2022-23 Gifted Ed. Compliance Monitoring Schedule (July 28, 2022)

On July 27, 2022, Carole L. Clancy, Director of the PDE Bureau of Special Education, sent a PennLink message titled  2022-23 Gifted Compliance Monitoring Schedule to all LEAs. The message states that the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has the responsibility to ensure that all school districts providing gifted education, whether directly or by contractual arrangements, administer gifted education services and programs in compliance with applicable state and federal laws and regulations. In order to fulfill this responsibility, PDE has established administrative procedures for monitoring program implementation, including evaluating the appropriateness, effectiveness, and accountability of gifted education services and programs.

PDE has developed the schedule for compliance monitoring for the 2022-23 school year, in which 10 school districts of varying sizes across the Commonwealth will be monitored. Additional monitoring, if deemed appropriate, may be designated as the school year progresses.

The Gifted Cyclical Monitoring for Continuous Improvement includes a Gifted Facilitated Self-Assessment (GFSA) completed by each school district and a virtual and/or onsite review by a PDE team, which may include peers who will conduct teacher/parent interviews or file reviews. The process includes a review of the GFSA submitted by the district; input from administrators, teachers, and parents; and verification activities of the information reported in the GFSA. Verification activities include file reviews of student documents; studies of service delivery; and analysis of policies, procedures, and outcomes.

Districts to be monitored will be scheduled for virtual training. The training will review the virtual/onsite monitoring process, documents, and GFSA submission, and provide suggestions and checklists regarding preparation and implementation of the monitoring process. Monitored districts are strongly encouraged to review the Gifted Monitoring Manual on PDE’s website and to seek assistance from your IU Gifted Liaison to prepare for the monitoring.

Questions regarding the 2022-23 monitoring schedule outlined below should be directed to Shirley Moyer, Special Education Adviser, at 717-903-2938 or shirmoyer@pa.gov.

LEAWeek to be Monitored
Ambridge SDOctober 17, 2022
United SDOctober 31, 2022
East Stroudsburg SDNovember 7, 2022
Camp Hill SDDecember 12, 2022
Northwestern Lehigh SDJanuary 9, 2023
Neshaminy SDJanuary 30, 2023
York City SDFebruary 6, 2023
Colonial School District SDMarch 6, 2023
Johnstown SDApril 17, 2023
Altoona SDMay 1, 2023

PA Releases New App to Connect Students and Families Experiencing Homelessness with Resources (July 27, 2022)

On July 26, 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced the creation of Finding Your Way in PA, a Pennsylvania-based mobile and desktop app developed by the Center for Schools and Communities to help connect students and families experiencing homelessness with local services and resources.

“It is critically important that we remove the barriers faced by students experiencing homelessness to help them learn, grow, and thrive continuously and seamlessly, and this new app brings that assistance into the 21st century,” said Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty. “Through this innovative new resource, Pennsylvanians can access free help 24 hours a day, seven days a week on a mobile phone or a desktop computer. Users without access to these devices are encouraged to visit their local library or community center for help and support.”

While using the app, users can search for and request assistance with services and resources in their current location, local communities, and throughout Pennsylvania to connect them with helpful supports. The app is available on three platforms (Web, Google Play Store & Apple App Store), features a simple design with List and Map View to find & connect to services easily, features a Chatbot that helps users find services, and lists various national crisis hotlines that can provide users with emotional support.

The app’s development was supported through the American Rescue Plan Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) Program. This program provides children and youth ​experiencing homelessness with wrap-around services and enables them to attend school and fully participate in school activities. Finding Your Way in PA supports educational stability and strives to foster positive education outcomes so that students and families experiencing housing instability can succeed in school, work, and life. Pennsylvania’s Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness (Pennsylvania ECYEH) Program was established to make sure youth have access to a free and appropriate public education while removing barriers​ facing children experiencing homelessness. Its goal is to have the educational process continue as uninterrupted as possible while the children are in homeless situations.

Some of the other main objectives of Pennsylvania’s Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness Program are to inform local school districts of their responsibilities to ​these children and youth, to increase awareness about their needs, explain current laws and policies, and provide practical tips for working with ​these children. In this effort, Pennsylvania’s network of eight regional offices ensures that the educational needs of students experiencing homelessness are met.

To learn more about Pennsylvania’s education for children and youth experiencing homelessness initiatives visit https://ecyeh.center-school.org/.

PDE: 2022-23 Special Education Compliance Monitoring Trainings Due by Sept. 9th (July 26, 2022)

On July 25, 2022, BSE Director Carole L. Clancy, Director sent a PennLink titled  2022-23 Special Education Compliance Monitoring Schedule to all local educational agencies (LEAs). The memo states that the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has the responsibility to ensure that all LEAs providing services, whether directly or by contractual arrangements, administer special education services and programs that are compliant with applicable state and federal laws and regulations. To fulfill this responsibility, PDE has established administrative procedures for monitoring program implementation, including evaluating the appropriateness, effectiveness, and accountability of special education services and programs.

PDE has developed the schedule for compliance monitoring for the 2022-23 school year in which 91 school districts and charter schools of varying size across the commonwealth will be monitored. The list of selected LEAs is included at the end of this Penn Link. Additional monitoring reviews, if deemed appropriate, may be designated as the school year progresses.

For the 2022-23 school year, the Cyclical Monitoring for Continuous Improvement (CMCI) process continues to be a combination of virtual and onsite components. Verification activities include digital and onsite review of student documents; studies of service delivery; and analysis of policies, procedures, and outcomes. This hybrid CMCI process will include:

  • Virtual Components – Facilitated Self-Assessment submitted by the LEA, and verification of the information reported in the Facilitated Self-Assessment; Administrative and Exit Interviews; and Parent and Teacher Interviews.
  • On-Site Components – Student Sample File Review and Classroom Observations.

Training for this monitoring process is designed as a series of web-based training modules. These modules will be available on the PaTTAN website and Leader Services website in late July. Relevant LEA personnel must complete the trainings and report date of completion to the chairperson by September 9, 2022.

These training modules review the current monitoring process; Facilitated Self-Assessment submission; documents to be submitted; managing web-based documentation; and provide additional resources to assist LEA personnel to prepare for the monitoring process. District superintendents, charter school chief executive officers, special education directors, and additional appropriate personnel at LEAs who will be monitored, will benefit from completing these training modules to familiarize themselves with the monitoring process.

The Chairperson assigned to each monitoring will contact the LEA for follow up. Should you have any questions regarding the 2022-23 monitoring schedule, please contact Kelli Franklin at kfranklin@pa.gov.

PA Dept. of Labor & Industry Celebrates Graduates of Apprenticeship Program Preparing Workers for Careers in Precision Manufacturing (July 23, 2022)

​On July 21, 2022, Tara Loew, Director of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry’s (L&I) Apprenticeship and Training Office (ATO), joined Oberg Industries to celebrate 45 recent graduates of the manufacturing company’s apprenticeship program, which provides in-demand skills training for Pennsylvanians interested in precision manufacturing careers.

Established in 2016, the ATO supports and expands registered pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs statewide. As one part of Governor Tom Wolf’s PAsmart framework, the office provides outreach, education, and technical support to current and prospective program sponsors and apprentices. The ATO aims to expand the apprenticeship model to non-traditional occupations and ensure opportunities are available to under-represented and underserved communities across Pennsylvania. The ATO currently supports more than 17,000 active apprentices, nearly 5,000 new apprentices, and more than 1,580 active occupation-specific apprenticeship programs around the commonwealth. 

The Wolf Administration has invested more than $28 million in Pennsylvania apprenticeship programs since 2018, focused on increasing academic training in computer sciences, science, technology, engineering, and math education to strengthen Pennsylvania’s workforce.

L&I estimates that, on average, apprentices earn a starting wage of $70,000 per year after graduation and are on track to earn $300,000 more over their careers compared to workers who don’t graduate from an apprenticeship program. For every dollar spent on apprenticeships, employers get an average of $1.47 back in increased productivity.

For more information, click here.