Lower Merion School District response to post by PILCOP
This guest blog post is a statement of the Lower Merion School District, submitted by Director of School & Community Relations Doug Young.
The Notebook recently published an inaccurate, misleading, and inflammatory guest commentary by attorney Sonja Kerr and communications assistant Dave Hanyok both of Philadelphia Public Interest Law Center (PILCOP). Kerr is part of the team of attorneys that have pursued a 2007 federal lawsuit against Lower Merion School District (LMSD). The case is scheduled for trial very soon in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
Acting outside the legal process, PILCOP has used the Notebook and its readers in a continuing, orchestrated campaign to sensationalize baseless claims and portray the LMSD in a negative light, contrary to the factual record in the pending lawsuit. What they present as “evidence” of educational bias toward minority students are unsupported allegations that we believe will be rejected by the court.
The Notebook’s readers can draw their own conclusions by reviewing the public court record, including the plaintiffs’ filings, the corrections to their filings, and the District’s filings related to the case (see .zip file of filings). It is important to note that prior to September, most of the documents in the case had been filed by the LMSD with the plaintiffs’ consent, under seal. This was done out of respect for the privacy of the named-student plaintiffs. However, their lawyers recently lifted the veil of confidentiality and rushed to the media in opposition to the LMSD’s filing of a motion for summary judgment in the case. That pre-trial motion is pending.
With no public fanfare, the plaintiffs’ lawyers filed court documents correcting some of their blatant misrepresentations, which were pointed out by the LMSD. Despite admitting to the court that their prior filings contained errors, PILCOP has irresponsibly posted the uncorrected version of its brief in the Notebook blog. It should be corrected immediately. (editor’s note: the link has been updated.)
While the LMSD will not try its case in the press, we are fully prepared to go to trial and stand by our record of exemplary special education services and educational excellence for all students. We have made significant advances in addressing student achievement gaps and we are working tirelessly to completely close these gaps. These are challenges we openly and honestly embrace and they are at the heart of our strategic plan. The LMSD is grateful for the support of a deeply engaged community that partners with our dedicated staff in this process. We are hopeful that there will be a day in the near future when we are all moving forward in the same, positive direction.
The LMSD invites you to follow its progress at www.lmsd.org.
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