Press Releases

Monday, May 16, 2016 9:33 AM

The federal notification to schools that discomfort doesn’t justify discrimination comes as many districts are tackling issues raised by and about transgender students.
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Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 14, 2016.

 
Monday, May 16, 2016 9:29 AM

The Obama administration is issuing guidance to schools Friday, saying they must allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
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Source: NPR.org, May 13, 2016.

 
Monday, May 16, 2016 8:49 AM

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released joint guidance today to help provide educators the information they need to ensure that all students, including transgender students, can attend school in an environment free from discrimination based on sex.

Recently, questions have arisen from school districts, colleges and universities, and others about transgender students and how to best ensure these students, and non-transgender students, can all enjoy a safe and discrimination-free environment.

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status. The guidance makes clear that both federal agencies treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX.

The guidance explains that when students or their parents, as appropriate, notify a school that a student is transgender, the school must treat the student consistent with the student’s gender identity. A school may not require transgender students to have a medical diagnosis, undergo any medical treatment, or produce a birth certificate or other identification document before treating them consistent with their gender identity.

The guidance also explains schools’ obligations to:

  • Respond promptly and effectively to sex-based harassment of all students, including harassment based on a student’s actual or perceived gender identity, transgender status, or gender transition;
  • Treat students consistent with their gender identity even if their school records or identification documents indicate a different sex;
  • Allow students to participate in sex-segregated activities and access sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity; and
  • Protect students’ privacy related to their transgender status under Title IX and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

At the same time, the guidance makes clear that schools can provide additional privacy options to any student for any reason. The guidance does not require any student to use shared bathrooms or changing spaces, when, for example, there are other appropriate options available; and schools can also take steps to increase privacy within shared facilities. 

In addition to the Departments’ joint Title IX guidance, the Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education also released Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students, a compilation of policies and practices that schools across the country are already using to support transgender students. The document shares some common questions on topics such as school records, privacy, and terminology, and then explains how some state and school district policies have answered these questions, which may be useful for other states and school districts that are considering these issues. In this document, the Education Department does not endorse any particular policy, but offers examples from actual policies to help educators develop policies and practices for their own schools.

Many parents, schools, and districts have raised questions about this area of civil rights law. Together, these documents will help navigate what may be a new terrain for some. Government resources for transgender and gender-nonconforming students are available here

 
Monday, May 16, 2016 8:37 AM

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has announced that it are offering a Grades 5-6 testing add-on option for the Grades PK-4 certificate only. Interested PreK-4 teacher preparation candidates may take two modules:

  • The Grades 4-8: Module 2 – English Language Arts & Social Studies (5154)
  • The Grades 4-8: Module 3 – Mathematics & Science (5155)

Candidates may take these modules during or after the PK-4 program and apply for them simultaneously, but the evaluation of the Grades Prek-4 requirements will be evaluated first and the Grades 5-6 add on certificate will only be granted once the PK-4 certificate is approved. Refer prospective candidates to the Certification Testing information on the www.education.pa.gov website.

Theresa Lynn Barnaby, Director
Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality
Pennsylvania Department of Education

 
Thursday, May 12, 2016 1:07 PM

A Montgomery County principal is being recognized statewide for his commitment to helping students succeed. Bill Ziegler, principal of Pottsgrove High School, has been named the 2016-17 Principal of the Year by the Pennsylvania Principals Association.
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Source: Pottstown Mercury, May 10, 2016.

 
Thursday, May 12, 2016 1:05 PM

The Pennsylvania school code says teacher layoff decisions can only be made according to who has the least seniority.
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Source: Keystone Crossroads, May 12, 2016.



 
Thursday, May 12, 2016 1:01 PM

School districts across Pennsylvania might have to cover pension debt owed by defunct charter schools.
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Source: Morning Call, May 11, 2016.

 
Thursday, May 12, 2016 8:40 AM

House Bill 1589 became law on April 25, 2016 and is now known as Act 25 of 2016. This Act includes a moratorium on new PlanCon Part A submittals received by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) from May 16, 2016, thru June 30, 2017. Accordingly, the Division of Budget and School Facilities needs to receive the Part A submittal on or before May 15, 2016, in order for it to be placed in the PlanCon queue of projects pending approval.  Given that  May 15, 2016, falls on a Sunday when PDE offices are closed, land-mailed or hand delivered Part A submittals must be received at PDE by no later  than 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 13, 2016. If you are mailing the submission, please do so as soon as possible, because the Commonwealth’s security screening procedures may cause a delay and the submission must be received in our offices no later than close of business on Friday. Any electronically submitted Part A’s need to be received in a PDE staff person’s Inbox or in our general electronic mailbox   (RA-SchoolFacilities@pa.gov) on or before Sunday, May 15, 2016.

Concerning the District-Wide Facility Study (Study), all prerequisite requirements noted in the PlanCon Part A forms/instructions are still applicable.  Overall, this entails:

1) The Board accepting/adopting a Study that includes all required content items and is no more than two years old.

2) Following this accepting/adopting, at the same Board meeting the Board can act on a PlanCon Part A submittal for a construction option that was considered/evaluated in the Study.

As long as the Part A has been received on or before May 15, 2016, and all of the prerequisite requirements have been followed, the project is not subject to the Act 25 moratorium. The project will be placed in the queue regardless of when the Part B materials (i.e.: Site Plan, Scheduled Area Floor Plan, and Educational Specifications) are received. Please keep in mind, however, that the PlanCon review/approval process cannot begin until both the Part A and the Part B materials have been received.

 

 
Wednesday, May 11, 2016 9:23 AM

Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday that he intends to veto a bill that would eliminate the “last in, first out” policy during teacher furloughs.
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Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 10, 2016.

 
Wednesday, May 11, 2016 9:23 AM

As the Pennsylvania Senate passed a measure to allow school districts to lay off teachers based on performance, not seniority — and Gov. Tom Wolf threatened to veto it — elected and union officials voiced their positions on the issue.
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Source: Delaware County Daily Times, May 10, 2016.

 
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