Several civil rights groups filed a lawsuit against District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), the District of Columbia, and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education on behalf of two students.
The students, referred to in the case as Charles H. and Israel F., claim that jailed students have not been offered virtual or in-person classes since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, School Justice Project, and Terris Pravlik & Millian LLP.
According to the lawsuit, DCPS provided class materials and video-conference classes for students learning from home after it stopped in-person classes in March 2020, but never resumed classes in any format for the nearly 40 students enrolled in DCPS at the DC Jail complex. All of these students have disabilities and special education needs, the plaintiffs say.
The students that are attending DC Jail’s Inspiring Youth Program (IYP) only received work packets sporadically at their cells or on tablets and they were expected to complete the work on their own without instructions from teachers.
“These work packets are inaccessible for students with disabilities, many of whom, are functioning below grade level in reading comprehension and writing skills,” the lawsuit explained. “Then, after the work is collected, the students never see their assignments again and receive little to no feedback except for generalized progress reports or final grades at the end of each term.”
DCPS and the District are also not offering any mental health counseling or other required services to these students, according to the complaint.
In response to the claims raised in the complaint, DCPS released the following statement:
“DCPS is committed to providing every student, including those receiving special education services, with a high-quality education that improves their academic outcomes and prepares them for lifelong success. While we cannot comment on pending litigation, we will actively work with the Office of the Attorney General to address the lawsuit.”