California parents sue state alleging inequity in distance learning

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A group of seven families from Oakland and Los Angeles, as well as the Oakland REACH parents group filed a lawsuit Monday against the State of California alleging the state hasn’t done enough to prevent racial and socio-economic inequality in distance learning.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Alameda County Superior Court, says the state failed its “constitutional obligation” to provide students an equal education by not ensuring equal access to devices, technology and support necessary for remote learning. The lawsuit also alleges the state has failed to provide teachers the support needed to help students learn under the current circumstances.

The impact, the lawsuit said, has disproportionately affected Black and Latinx students, as well as students from low-income backgrounds.

“The change in the delivery of education left many already-underserved students functionally unable to attend school,” the plaintiffs said in the lawsuit. “The State continues to refuse to step up and meet its constitutional obligation to ensure basic educational equality or indeed any education at all.”

Nine Los Angeles families filed a similar lawsuit against Los Angeles Unified in September, alleging the district’s distance learning program does not meet state educational standards and disproportionately harms Black and Latinx students, the Associated Press reported.

The Alameda County lawsuit calls for a judgment barring the state from “further depriving Plaintiffs of their constitutional rights,” as well as for low-income, Black and Latinx families to be included in the state and local planning for in-person instruction when conditions allow.

The families are being represented by Public Council — a nonprofit civil rights law firm — and international law firm Morrison and Foerster.

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