I'm back! Livetweeting the SRC

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UPDATED, 3:50 p.m.

Parents United for Public Education and Philly School Counselors United today filed a complaint with the state Department of Education requesting "urgent intervention" because of a lack of counselors in the Philadelphia School District.

Many district schools currently lack full-time counselors. Some counselors will be re-hired with part of the $45 million released by Gov. Corbett yesterday, but it's not clear exactly how many will be restored.

The complaint, filed by the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia on behalf of the two groups, highlights widespread problems - for students facing complicated applications processes for new schools, for those applying to colleges, for those needing emotional support.  "The shortage of counselors is already producing incidences of students without adequate support to participate effectively in classes, who have articulated emotional needs arising from family deaths and neighborhood violence going unattended, and who therefore may upset classrooms, or participate in unruly behavior, bullying, and tumoil - exactly what would be expected from the absence of counseling services."

In addition to the group complaint filed today, more than 800 district parents at 60 schools citywide have filed complaints over conditions in district schools which they feel violate state school code.

Some were outlined in the most recent complaint - at Kearny Elementary, a recently-orphaned child has been acting out, but the school has a counselor once every eight days. At E.M. Stanton Elementary, the parent of an eighth grader said her daughter has not been able to submit her high school application form because a counselor is present only every seventh day. At Bartram High, one counselor serving 1,200 students cannot handle the college application load, "much less attend to needs of student victims of several fights which have occurred at the school."

Helen Gym, a founder of Parents United for Public Education, said the groups will continue to push until every school has a counselor. "This is a major issue," she said.

Parents, Gym said, "have been wonderful. Whole schools are organized around this complaints process."


I'm back at it after five months at home with my new baby, and just in time - the School Reform Commission meets tonight at 5:30, and I'll be livetweeting.

Should be a busy day and night, as usual - this afternoon, community members are holding an event at Feltonville Intermediate School to highlight the hundreds of complaints that have been filed with the state Department of Education over problems in the cash-strapped district. And while the SRC meets, school nurses will hold a vigil to remember Laporcha Massey, the 6th grade student who died after an asthma attack. Laporcha attended Bryant Elementary, a district school without a nurse on duty.

Follow along here, or on Twitter, for updates.