LAUSD sued over level of in-person instruction for highest-needs students

Dec 13, 2020 by

Two children’s advocacy groups are asking the state’s highest court to compel the Los Angeles Unified School District to provide instruction and other services in person to students who have suffered the greatest learning loss during distance learning.

LAUSD should have to provide in-person services to students with disabilities, English learners and others who can’t participate in their education online the same way as most other students, attorneys for the L.A.-based Alliance for Children’s Rights and the Learning Rights Law Center argued in a petition filed with the California Supreme Court on Friday, Dec. 11.

The alliance and law center want the court to order LAUSD to provide small-group, in-person instruction to these students “to the maximum extent possible,” consistent with the county health department’s guidelines, and to resume in-person special education assessments and other services as outlined in a student’s individualized education plan, as well as to provide accommodations needed in a distance learning environment, according to the petition.

And if the district can’t or is unwilling to provide in-person special education, assessments or related services, it should have to arrange for a nonpublic agency or nonpublic school to provide those services, the petition states.

Alex Romain, one of the attorneys which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the advocacy groups, said during an interview that Senate Bill 98, which the state Legislature passed over the summer, made clear that “in-person instruction should be provided whenever possible to those who would experience the greatest learning loss” during the pandemic.

English learners, students with severe intellectual or emotional challenges and pupils with other special needs may not do well with online learning, where they’re expected to sit in front of a computer for long stretches of time, said Romain, of the law firm Milbank LLP. He estimates that tens of thousands of LAUSD students could fall in this category.

“There are many of those students who simply cannot access the educational curriculum through distance learning,” he said. “Forcing them to sit in front of a computer actually causes irreparable harm.”

Source: LAUSD sued over level of in-person instruction for highest-needs students – Daily News

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