From: Jennifer Clarke []

Sent: Thursday, December 30, 2010 12:11 PM

Subject: December Update: A Strong Finish to the Year for the Law Center and its Clients



Affiliated with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Board of Directors

Roosevelt Hairston, Jr., Chair

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia


Eric J. Rothschild, Vice Chair

Pepper Hamilton LLP


Melissa A. Wojtylak, Treasurer

Reed Smith LLP


Scott Bennett Freemann, Secretary

Freemann Law Offices


Danielle Banks

Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young LLP


Richard L. Bazelon

Bazelon Less & Feldman


Anna M. Bryan

White and Williams LLP


Nicholas E. Chimicles

Chimicles & Tikellis


William H. Ewing


Joseph B.G. Fay

Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP


Brian T. Feeney

Greenberg Traurig LLP


H. Robert Fiebach

Cozen O'Connor


Howard R. Flaxman

Fox Rothschild LLP


Ellen S. Friedell

Reaching Agreement ADR LLC


George G. Gordon

Dechert LLP


Stacy L. Hawkins

Diversity Consultant

Rutgers School of Law - Camden


Marilyn Heffley

Sunoco, Inc.


Donald K. Joseph

Rutgers School of Law - Camden


Aliza R. Karetnick

Duane Morris LLP


Marciene S. Mattleman

After School Activities Partnership



Sharon F. McKee

Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin


H. Laddie Montague, Jr.

Berger & Montague PC


Derek Redcross, CPA

Redcross Associates


Paul H. Saint-Antoine

Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP


David Smith

Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP


Marc A. Topaz

Barroway Topaz Kessler Meltzer & Check, LLP


Shelly D. Yanoff

Public Citizens for Children & Youth




DaQuana L. Carter

Barristers'Association of Philadelphia



Scott F. Cooper, Chancellor

Philadelphia Bar Association


Abbie DuFrayne, Chair

Young Lawyers' Division of the Philadelphia Bar Association


Rudolph Garcia, Chancellor-Elect
Philadelphia Bar Association


Ellen T. Greenlee

Defender Association of Philadelphia



Grace P. Manno

Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania


Carlos Montoya

Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania


John Savoth, Vice Chancellor

Philadelphia Bar Association

Letter from the Executive Director


Dear Lauren, 


What is our Public Health and Environmental Justice project?  What do we do? How does that work fit with our other high impact legal strategies to secure equality for of our most vulnerable citizens?


Our dedicated board of directors asked these questions and others this year as we put each of our projects under the microscope in a strategic planning process designed to make sure that our precious time and resources are spent in a way that is coherent and effective.

In this newsletter, we begin to answer those questions as we highlight some of the many initiatives guided by our able project director, Adam Cutler.  We are giving voice to residents in Eddystone, Pennsylvania whose elected officials approved a metal scrap recycling facility, ignoring public opposition.  Through grants from the EPA, we are providing legal and technical support to Chester, Pennsylvania and the Hunting Park neighborhood of Philadelphia, communities already organized to improve the quality of their surroundings.  We joined the public discussion about Marcellus Shale drilling as co-hosts and panelists following a film screening at WHYY.  Through a fellowship from the Skadden Foundation beginning in the fall, we will provide legal advice to minority individuals, communities and organizations seeking to supplement their incomes and create community food sovereignty through urban farming.

To us, these projects fit naturally with the rest of our work.  If we are to have equality, all of us must ensure that our fellow citizens have access to the basic conditions people need to thrive, including education, jobs, housing and health.  And health comes not just from having access to a doctor and dentist (although that certainly is a central right which our attorney James Eiseman is working to vindicate in Florida with our partners at Boies Schiller & Flexner).  A neighborhood with parks, available healthy food and clean soil, water and air are equally critical.

We will be featuring this project over the course of 2011, first as endorsers of the EPA's Brownfields 2011 Conference, which will be held April 3-5, 2011 in Philadelphia, and  later as we focus on environmental justice issues during our Fourth Annual Symposium on Equality and Thaddeus Stevens Awards Dinner to be held on October 6, 2011.     

Please join us to learn about and celebrate this expanding and exciting work.      

Very truly yours,


jenny sig

Jennifer R. Clarke

Executive Director

p.s.  If you are one of the generous donors who has already supported the Law Center this year, thank you!  If you haven't made your gift yet, there's still time to make a year-end donation online by clicking here.



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Film Screening and Marcellus Shale Discussion Features Adam Cutler, DEP Sec. John Hanger, and OthersAdam Speaking


The Law Center partnered with WHYY to present the November 17th Philadelphia premiere of Deep Down, a documentary exploring a small Appalachian community's mobilization around mountaintop removal mining.  The film was followed by a panel discussion about the parallels between the film and the environmental, social and economic issues around Marcellus Shale drilling.  Adam Cutler, Director of the Law Center's Public Health and Environmental Justice Clinic joined John Hanger, former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Tracy Carluccio from the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Christine Knapp of PennFuture, and State Representative Tony Payton, Jr., of the 179th District in Philadelphia on the panel.  Watch a video of the panel


EPA Grant to Aid Residents of Chester, PA in Reducing Environmental Hazards 


Rev Strand

CEP's Rev. Strand with clinic students

The Law Center's Public Health and Environmental Justice Clinic received a $100,000 grant through the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) grant program to help residents organize and take action to reduce toxic pollution in their neighborhoods.  The grant will help build the capacity of the Chester Environmental Partnership (CEP), led by Reverend Horace Strand (pictured), to catalogue environmental hazards in the community and organize a community-wide effort to address these issues.

More information about EPA's CARE program


Law Center Co-Sponsors Report On Costs of Air Pollution to Downwind AreasSmokestacks


The Law Center co-sponsored a study released December 8th finding that, without key pollution controls, pollution from coal-fired power plants  is costing businesses in downwind states nearly $6 billion annually due to higher labor and insurance costs, lost work days, and lost productivity. The report, "Expensive Neighbors: The Hidden Cost of Harmful Pollution to Downwind Employers and Businesses," concludes that the benefits of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed "Transport Rule" under the Clean Air Act far outweigh any associated compliance costs. More on our website... 


Public Health & Environmental Justice Clinic Represents Eddystone Clients

Scrap Yard

Picture via Eddystoner

Since the Spring of 2010, the Law Center has been advising Eddystone Residents for Positive Change (ERPC), a community group which is addressing a proposed metal shredding and processing facility for the Eddystone Burough, which could introduce dangerous pollutants into the air and the adjacent Delaware River. Eddystone residents began voicing their concerns to the Eddystone Borough Council in early 2010, but the Council approved the plans in October despite these objections. Residents hope to convince the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) not to grant the facility the necessary permits. At a public hearing hosted by the DEP on Tuesday, December 15th, the Law Center, speaking on behalf of the ERPC, made their voices heard along with many other town residents. More about the hearing...
DEP hears from Eddystone residents, Delco Times, 12/14/10


Law Center Welcomes Two New Fellows to Public Health & Environmental Justice Project

Jamie Moore 

Jaimee L. Moore, a graduate of the Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University and former intern with the Law Center's Public Health and Environmental Justice Law Clinic, has returned to the Law Center as a Drexel Public Service Fellow.  As a fellow, Jaimee will continue to work with Adam Cutler and this year's Clinic students on with the Law Center's work with low-income and minority communities to protect the health of their neighborhoods.  The Fellowship lasts through May, 2011.  More about Jaimee....



Amy LauraIn Fall 2011, Amy Laura Cahn will join the Law Center as a recipient of the prestigious Skadden Fellowship, which has been described as "a legal Peace Corps."  Amy Laura will provide comprehensive legal assistance, including direct legal, transactional, and negotiation support, to Philadelphians in historically underserved and low wealth communities using urban farming to encourage economic independence, foster community food sovereignty, and reclaim neighborhoods from urban blight. Amy Laura graduated magna cum laude in 2009 from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and is currently clerking for the Honorable Michael M. Baylson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  She worked with the Law Center and her classmates from Penn Law's Visual Legal Advocacy seminar earlier this year to produce "Pennhurst: the Road to Civil Rights for People with Disabilities," a documentary about the Law Center's groundbreaking lawsuit to close Pennsylvania's largest state-run institution for people with disabilities.  The video will be available online soon.  More about Amy Laura...


 studentGetting Results for the Students of LMSD

The Law Center's legal proceedings on the behalf of students languishing in low-level and special education classes in Lower Merion School District are moving forward and continuing to get results.  On December 21st, Judge Harvey Bartle III set Blunt et al v. LMSD to return to the trial pool in November, 2011, after the parties exchange documents and information and take pre-trial testimony. This federal lawsuit alleges that LMSD has systematically discriminated against its black students by disproportionately and inappropriately  placing them in special education programs and the lowest level classes, where they are segregated from their white peers and receive a substandard education.


Complementing this high-impact litigation, the Law Center's advocacy on behalf of individual students continues to achieve real results for the students whose educations have been neglected by LMSD. High school students S.M. and A.L. were both awarded compensatory education from LMSD this month. And, a federal court judge decided that a Hearing Officer's decision to deny S.L. and his family's request for a hearing seeking an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) was unfounded and ordered the Hearing Officer to allow S.L. and his family a hearing on that issue.  This ruling established that hearing officers cannot decline to hold a hearing on any right protected under the IDEA. 

Loraine Carter, president of Concerned Black Parents, an organization in which many of the families we represent are involved, wrote:

"With PILCOP advocating for us, one middle school boy is enrolled in a private school where his gains are tremendous and he feels it's the absolute right match for him, another is attending a local college where she is prospering while gaining the academic skills lost through years of receiving an inappropriate education within Lower Merion, another is receiving reading and math support with Lindamoode Bell in Bryn Mawr, and several others were removed from special education simply because they never were disabled to begin with. By the way, the Lower Merion School District is paying 100% of these students' tuition.


Participate in a Study of Parents of Children with Disabilities


A doctoral student at Peabody College and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center has asked us to help her with a study of parents of students with disabilities. The study will examine parent-school collaboration as it relates to parental and child characteristics. The study itself will involve the parent answering a survey about him/herself, the child with a disability, and the relationship with the school the child attends.  Altogether, the study will take about 20-30 minutes. The results of the study will be available to those who are interested.
Click here to participate!


Judge Rules Methadone Treatment Center Lawsuit Can Proceed


Judge Kim Gibson of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania ruled on December 7 that the RHJ Medical Center, a methadone clinic for which the Law Center is serving as co-counsel, has standing to sue the City of DuBois, PA, for discriminatory practices that prevented it from opening. The court denied the city's motion for judgment on the pleadings, relying heavily on the Third Circuit's opinion in the Law Center's successful suit on behalf of New Directions Treatment Services against the City of Reading, PA. (The Third Circuit struck down a Pennsylvania law that banned methadone treatment facilities within 500 feet of schools, public playgrounds, public parks, residential housing areas, child-care facilities, churches, meetinghouses, and other facilities, essentially making it impossible for clinics to provide recovering drug addicts with the treatment they need for their recovery.)

Read more about the RHJ case.


Law Center Friends and Colleagues Celebrate the SeasonDonald and Michael

On the evening of December 16th, past and present staff, interns, volunteers and colleagues of the Law Center braved the snowy weather to gather at the Law Center's office and celebrate the Holiday season. Thanks to all who attended for making it such a memorable evening, and happy holidays from all of us at the Law Center!


Pictured at right are Law Center Board Member and Symposium Chair Donald Joseph and Michael Churchill of the Law Center. 


Meet Our Volunteers!
Christa Cobb


The Law Center's day-to-day operations rely in large part on the hard work of its wonderful volunteers. A big thank you to our volunteers and interns for their contributions to the Law Center's success! Our current volunteers are Christa Cobb, Jim Kostman, Dean Williams, Bunmi Bayode, Eileen Somers, and Karen Wheeler.  This month we feature Christa Cobb (pictured at right), who has volunteered at the Law Center for over a year, taking on important responsibilities such as helping to coordinate the panelists for our 3rd annual Symposium on Equality.


Three Local Foundations Join Others to Support Law Center Projects

The Claneil Foundation, the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation and the Philadelphia Bar Foundation recently joined our other
foundation donors to support our projects.  The Claneil Foundation grant supports our work to secure a quality education for children in the School District of Philadelphia by enforcing the provisions of the desegregation case settlement agreement negotiated last summer.  The Lindback Foundation grant supports our project to train law students, lawyers and parents of children with disabilities in the School District of Philadelphia about the Individuals with Disabilities Act. The Philadelphia Bar Foundation grant provides general operating support.  The Law Center extends our thanks to all three funders for their generosity!


Support the Law Center by Shopping through GoodShop


While shopping online for post-holiday bargains, you can take a few simple steps to donate a portion of what you spend to the Law Center. Go to and select the store from which you want to make a purchase, and as much as 7% of your final purchase will be donated to the Law Center. Also, whenever you perform an web search on with the Law Center selected, we'll receive a one cent donation. If enough people take these easy steps, GoodSearch could contribute significantly our mission of equal citizenship for all.


Join Us at These Upcoming Trainings and Events:


Assistive Technology: Leveling the Playing Field for Children with Disabilities

When:  Tuesday January 25, 2011, 12-4 p.m.

Where: United Way of Southeastern PA, 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 

Who should attend: parents, including foster parents, advocates, attorneys, human service workers, child care providers, and others who work with children who experience disabilities. 

What: This seminar will focus on the legal requirements of how to obtain and utilize assistive technology in schools, including addressing assistive technology (augmentative communication) evaluations, device selection/trials, and incorporating assistive technology within IEPs. This seminar is designed for those with varying degrees of knowledge.
View the course outline. | REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN


"Ask Absolutely Anything" Education Public Information Sessions

When: Thursday, January 27th, 3-6:30 p.m.
Where: 92 Greenfield Avenue in Ardmore, PA (Zion's Annex)
Cost: FREE, first come, first served.
Our clients, Concerned Black Parents, are hosting these weekly sessions during which, Law Center attorneys will respond to questions from Lower Merion students and their families on general and special education issues.


Children with Behavioral and Counseling Needs and Juvenile Justice Issues
When: Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 12-4 pm

Where: United Way of Southeastern PA, 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 

Who should attend: parents, including foster parents, advocates, attorneys, human service workers, child care providers, and others who work with children who have emotional needs and/or behavioral problems, and who have encountered or may encounter the juvenile justice system.

What: This seminar will focus on practical ways to work with your child's team to improve behavioral programming, reduce suspensions and other disciplinary actions and avoid involvement in the juvenile justice system, as well as what to do if the child is in the juvenile justice system, and to assist a child with emotional needs. This seminar is designed for individuals with varying degrees of knowledge. REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN

View our full calendar of trainings

The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia is dedicated to advancing the Constitutional promise of equal citizenship to all persons irrespective of race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, gender or poverty. We use public education, continuing education of our clients and client organizations, research, negotiation and, when necessary, the courts to achieve systemic reforms that advance the central goals of self-advocacy, social justice and equal protection of the law for all members of society.

The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia is a registered charitable organization. A copy of the official registration may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free within Pennsylvania 1.800.732.0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.


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