Lawsuit Filed Against the State of California for Distanced Learning Inequities

Written by Angela Landes (News Writer)

Seven families filed lawsuits this September against the state of California, the state board of education, the state department of education, and Tony Thurmond (The State Superintendent of Public Instruction) alleging the State´s failure ¨ to ensure basic educational equality,¨ as the Constitution of California requires. Among other things, the plaintiffs alleged that in the second-grade class of two students, ¨between March 17, 2020, and the end of the 2019-2020 school year, their teacher held class only twice,¨ according to their filed lawsuit. This is one example of the many failures to support students the plaintiffs allege the state of. 

The plaintiffs filed this case because these failures particularly affect lower-income households and students of color. For example, there is a failure of many schools that did not provide training and equipment such as computers, which disproportionately affects lower-income families who are less likely to already own a device and have access to a stable internet connection for their child to use during school. While many children of more wealthy families already are able to provide these expensive items and services to their children, lower-income students are sometimes unfortunately left without any way to access their education whatsoever. This has put greater financial and legal pressure on lower-income families and guardians because they must find a way to provide their child(ren) with an official education, often requiring great financial expenditure. Because the California Constitution guarantees free and equal education, this inequality brings into question the state´s compliance with its Constitution. The failure of schools to provide proper tools and skills to students and families during distanced learning also violates the California Education Code § 43500, showing a great lack of enforcement of these codes.

Spokespeople for a multiple of the defendants have not yet provided public comment regarding the lawsuit, including the California Department of Education which stated that the departments´ legal team had not yet reviewed the lawsuit. However, spokesman Jesse Melgar represented California Governor Gavin Newsom saying, ¨Throughout the pandemic, this administration has taken important actions to protect student learning while also taking necessary steps to protect public health. We will defend our position in court.¨ It is yet to be seen the result of this case, which could completely change how California schools handle distanced learning inequities.

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