School closures have disrupted education for all of our children. But for vulnerable students with special needs, distance learning is impossible—resulting in learning loss, emotional damage, and irreparable harm, leaving families struggling to address one of the most fundamental needs of the children in their care for months without a plan.
That is why the Alliance for Children’s Rights, the Learning Rights Law Center, and Milbank LLP have filed suit today in the Supreme Court of California to force LAUSD to comply with its most basic duties under the law: to ensure that these students safely receive the in-person assessments and instruction that they need.
There are more than 80,000 students with special needs in Los Angeles who rely on support from LAUSD schools.
They and their families are facing a daily struggle to not give up. Giving up means regressing in their educational and developmental progress, dropping out of school, and—in many cases—irreparable harm. This reality is distressing and it is avoidable.
We do not seek to sacrifice safety; the priority remains the safety of students, their families, and their teachers. And we are not asking for anyone—student or teacher—who is in a high-risk category, or living with someone in a high-risk category, to engage in in-person instruction. But LAUSD must provide these services for students who are able and willing and who cannot access the educational curriculum through distance learning.
Senate Bill 98 makes clear that California school districts must provide in-person instruction “whenever possible” and “to the greatest extent possible.” It has been possible for months. Since September 2, 2020, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has consistently maintained that in-person instruction can be provided, in small cohorts, and up to 25% of campus capacity. Such in-person instruction would be provided in accordance with the Department of Public Health’s safety protocols.
We are asking LAUSD to fulfill its legal obligation to provide in-person assessments and instruction for those who cannot do without them.
Our children with special needs are being left behind because of LAUSD’s failure to comply with the law and meet the needs of our most vulnerable children.
Make your voice heard.
And write to LAUSD board members at firstname.lastname@example.org before December 14th by 6PM to demand that students who cannot benefit from their education through distance learning alone receive the appropriate support and services to continue their learning.