The Philadelphia Project


Special Ed Team Working to Ensure Kids have Access to Aides

We recently helped E.W., a 5th-grade student who needs emotional support due to experiencing homelessness and bullying, secure the help he needs in school.

When E.W. was in second grade, the School District of Philadelphia determined that E.W. had an emotional disability and needed a one-to-one aide in the classroom with him. Having an aide helped to create stability for E.W., inspired E.W. to achieve perfect attendance, and boosted E.W.’s academic performance.

Last summer, however, with E.W. entering 5th grade, the district said that E.W. had to move schools and that he could no longer have his aide. E.W.’s mom tried to request a special education hearing and then contacted us for help.

Through our litigation at a hearing on the issue in December, the District agreed to return E.W. to his original school with the same aide in the same classroom.

Our success will likely help many other students like E.W., as the School District of Philadelphia has too often failed to ensure that children who need aides receive them. Thanks to our advocacy, the Pennsylvania Department of Education went so far as to issue a letter to the District, reminding district staff that aides must be provided.

Other issues in this case still need to be resolved, but we are pleased the District is returning E.W. to his original school with his original one-to-one aide.

E.W.’s parent said, “I am pleased and encouraged to have regained the rights and services displaced under the supervision of the School District, myself, and others of authority. It is a step in the right direction, but there are challenges ahead, none of which should be taken lightly. We need to stay focused on the goal: the safety, security, happiness, and education of the child.”