Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lawsuit alleges Flint schools are failing to serve lead-poisoned children - The Washington Post

Lawsuit alleges Flint schools are failing to serve lead-poisoned children - The Washington Post:

Lawsuit alleges Flint schools are failing to serve lead-poisoned children

Public officials failed children in Flint, Mich., by allowing the city’s supply of drinking water to remain contaminated with lead, a known neurotoxin, for 18 months. The government is again falling short, a lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges, by failing to provide those children with educational services that they legally deserve and that could counter the effects of the Flint lead exposure.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan, argues that the public school system in Flint is not meeting its legal obligation to screen lead-exposed children for disabilities or provide services and interventions that could make a difference in their ability to learn and thrive. It also alleges that the state education department has failed to provide Flint schools, which have cut teachers and other staff in the face of a $10 million deficit, with the resources and funding they need to provide those services.
There are 30,000 children under the age of 19 in Flint, and 8,000 of them are younger than five and particularly vulnerable to the effects of lead exposure. Lead exposure can result in diminished academic achievement and a greater tendency to be hyperactive, impulsive and aggressive. Without meaningful action soon, the complaint says, children’s opportunities to reach their full potential will be “permanently foreclosed.”
“In the wake of the Flint lead crisis, Flint children face an unprecedented educational and civil rights disaster,” says the 133-page complaint. “It is impossible to overstate the resounding effects of the failure to provide meaningful education opportunities, and to provide them now.”
A spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education said that the agency has not yet seen a copy of the complaint; the agency generally declines to comment on pending litigation. A spokeswoman for Flint Community Schools did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bilal Tawwab, the superintendent of Flint schools, acknowledged in February before a congressional committee that his schools need more support to measure “the intellectual and emotional damage done to each, and possibly every child.” Tawwab said students have profound needs — for lead-free facilities, trained and talented teachers, early intervention and year-round schooling — but the district’s budget is already strained.
The complaint was filed on behalf of Flint families by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan; the Education Law Center, a New Jersey-based public interest law firm; and White & Case, a Manhattan law firm. It seeks class certification to represent all Flint children who were exposed to lead and are — or may be — eligible for special education services.
The plaintiffs are 15 children, ages 3 to 17, each of whom was exposed to lead in Flint. They allege that they have been denied the special-education services they need and deserve under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Michigan state law.
The plaintiffs also allege that Flint Community Schools has a history of problems with special Lawsuit alleges Flint schools are failing to serve lead-poisoned children - The Washington Post:

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