The ACLJ has taken up the charge for parents and students who are struggling to handle school closures and at-home learning during the Coronavirus pandemic. Our efforts at the ACLJ are already delivering victories for parents and kids.
Since we launched our School Choice Initiative and encouraged parents who felt their kids were being denied educational opportunities due to Coronavirus school closures and at-home learning to contact us, we’ve heard from nearly 1,700 families across 48 states and the District of Columbia.
To date, approximately 1,350 of those families’ situations have already been assigned to our attorneys to review. Our legal team has been working with families to find outside-of-the-box solutions so that every child can obtain a quality education during these unprecedented times. And we are contacting school administrators, urging them to do the same.
One need many families have during this time is adequate equipment – a computer, wireless device, or Internet connectivity – to complete remote learning. A disabled parent in Georgia with 2 sons – both suffering from asthma – contacted us because the boys needed laptops in order to complete assignments on the school’s remote learning platform. The ACLJ sent a letter to the school after the frustrated parent’s request went unanswered. The school responded and provided the parent with laptops for each of her sons.
This is exactly the kind of situation we are working nationwide to resolve.
Similarly, the ACLJ helped families in Texas whose children didn’t have computers needed for distance learning. Our legal team’s guidance assisted the parents in obtaining these resources.
We were able to assist four more families in California who needed help navigating childcare and student supervision issues. The ACLJ was able to direct the parents to the proper state-issued resource which answered questions about paid time off from work and provided information about supervised child care centers.
And in South Carolina, we recently sent letters to school districts on behalf of two families who reached out to us because they lacked essential educational tools necessary for their children to complete their schools’ remote-learning programs planned for the fall.
We’ve also been working with many parents of children with special needs to help connect them with the appropriate school officials, and to advocate on their behalf, regarding what accommodations will be provided to their children in the upcoming school year. Several who have reached out to us are single-parent families who are finding it difficult to manage their child’s “Individual Education Plan” (IEP) and are seeking guidance on how to navigate this difficult time.
We are urging school districts to find creative solutions to ensure that children with special needs and IEPs will still be able to receive the special education, services, and therapy they need during remote learning programs.
We will not leave families feeling stranded or helpless during this confusing time.
This week, the ACLJ is representing a parent in North Carolina whose autistic daughter has been unable to do online work with her teacher. With the school deciding to go fully virtual in the fall, the teacher offered to come to the home a few days a week for in-person instruction, but the school district wouldn’t allow it. The parent has found a therapy group that meets a few days a week that will walk her daughter through her studies, but this service is costly. Since the school district has refused to allow the student to receive much needed in-person instruction from her teacher, we are asking the school to help with the cost of a tutor, as well as group therapy sessions typically provided by the school during in-person learning.
Another parent in North Carolina whose son has special needs contacted the ACLJ because the school is not fulfilling the IEP. The school has not responded to any of his emails asking for help, wherein he stated that his child cannot understand any instruction offered through online learning. Our client has been unable to return to work and will need to find a tutor or other program to help his son understand and complete his schoolwork. We are working with the father to determine what would best meet his son’s educational needs and will be contacting the school.
Our team is in the process of preparing more letters to go out in the coming week to school districts in Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, Colorado, Minnesota, and North Carolina on behalf of dozens of families.
Our work is not done. We will continue to keep you informed of our progress.
We are not asking these school districts for charity. We are asking them to meet basic educational needs of students within their districts – students whose parents faithfully pay taxes to support these schools in exchange for educational opportunities. In addition, school districts receive millions of tax dollars every year specifically earmarked for special education. If schools don’t open for in-person learning and, instead, opt for a virtual learning program, they must be prepared to provide the equipment and resources for students to learn. No child should be robbed of an education because he or she lacks basic educational tools and resources necessary for learning.
That is educational justice. That is what we are demanding for every American family.
As we aggressively advocate for families to receive essential educational resources during the pandemic and quality education for every child, we need your support.
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