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Public Education: It’s A Constitutional Right!

By: Matthew H. Fry, Esquire
       [email protected]

Our partner Robert M. DiOrio, Esquire has successfully defeated an improper attempt by a Chester County school district to exclude a student for alleged non-residency.   This victory for the student and his family highlights that public education is not only a valuable but a constitutionally-protected right as well.

The school district had held a hearing before a district-appointed hearing officer, which resulted in a decision that the student was not a district resident, was excluded from the district, and must repay the district over $13,000.00 for educational expenses. However, after the Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP began to represent the student on appeal, the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County reversed the decision of the hearing officer, finding that the student’s constitutional rights had been violated, that he was eligible to remain in the school district, and that the district was not entitled to any repayment.

The Court found that although the student had been enrolled in the district since kindergarten, emergency family circumstances required him to seek temporary housing with relatives outside the district. As a result, based upon an assumption that he no longer was a district resident, the district had scheduled a hearing,  notifying the student and his father only days in advance, and without notifying the student’s long-standing attorney – despite knowing that the student had been represented previously by this attorney.

The Court noted that when a school district asserts non-residency of a student, before a student may be lawfully excluded from the district, the district must provide the student with certain due process and other constitutional protections, including proper notice of the accusation, the right to a hearing, the right to present witnesses at the hearing, and of course, the right to be represented by counsel.  The Court determined that the student’s constitutional rights had been violated and that the student actually remained a district resident in light of the emergency circumstances.

               If issues involving school law arise with your family or friends, the attorneys at the Law Firm of DiOrio and Sereni, LLP are experienced and available to help you. Contact Matthew H. Fry, Esquire at (610) 565-5700, or send him an email at [email protected].

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The National Trial Lawyers

The Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP, is located in Media, PA and serves clients in and around Media, Glen Riddle Lima, Brookhaven, Wallingford, Newtown Square, Lenni, Springfield, Swarthmore, Chester, Aston, Bryn Mawr, Morton, Woodlyn, Broomall, Gradyville, Folsom, Chester Heights, Crum Lynne, Glen Mills, Marcus Hook, Ridley Park, Drexel Hill, Marple, Bethel, Garnet Valley, Chadds Ford Concord, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County.

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