Families and community organizations in Los Angeles and Oakland sued California this week, claiming it had failed during the pandemic to provide low-income black and Latino students with the free and fair education that the Constitution of the State guarantees.
According to the lawsuit, California has failed to provide essential equipment, support and monitoring as public schools have switched to distance education in their efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He says parents and grandparents had to become tutors, counselors, and computer techs because of an inadequate response.
“Despite the fact that the home has become the exclusive learning environment for children,” the complaint states, “the state has not offered families any training, support or opportunity to contribute to learning plans at home. distance, the eventual return to the person teaching, or the provision of compensatory education. “
The lawsuit, filed in Alameda Superior Court on Monday, stems from widespread concern that distance education has exacerbated education disparities for students who cannot afford a computer laptop or Wi-Fi access – not to mention tuition fees at private schools that have kept classrooms open. In large districts of the country, failure rates appear to be increasing, especially among disadvantaged students, putting them at increased risk of disengagement and dropout.
It is the latest in a series of legal efforts to pressure California to address socio-economic inequalities in its public school system.
Weeks before the pandemic began forcing schools to close classrooms in the spring, a $ 50 million legal settlement ended another lawsuit brought by Public Counsel, a non-profit legal aid organization. Profit, who filed a lawsuit on behalf of California students who were not receiving adequate reading instruction in elementary schools. . Public Counsel was also part of a coalition of advocacy groups that last year sued the University of California system, accusing its use of standardized tests for admissions disadvantage black and Latino students.
But the lawsuit also comes at an extremely difficult time in the California pandemic, which is facing skyrocketing infection rates. A spokesman for Gov. Gavin Newsom, who warned on Monday that the state may have to tighten public health restrictions, said the state has worked to balance long-term education needs with the immediate health crisis.
“Throughout the pandemic, this administration has taken important steps to protect student learning while taking the necessary steps to protect public health,” said spokesperson Jesse Melgar. “We will defend our position in court.”