The parents of 15 California public school students allege in a new lawsuit that the state has not given their children equal access to education during the coronavirus pandemic.
The children, ranging from kindergartners to high schoolers, attend school in Los Angeles and Oakland, according to Reuters. The lawsuit filed Monday alleges the students were not provided with the devices and internet connections they needed when their schools switched to online instruction and that school systems fell short on language barriers and resources for homeless students.
Plaintiffs asked Alameda County Superior Court to declare state education officials violated the guaranteed equality of education found in the state constitution, according to the news service.
“The change in the delivery of education left many already-underserved students functionally unable to attend school. The State continues to refuse to step up and meet its constitutional obligation to ensure basic educational equality or indeed any education at all,” the lawsuit states.
“The State’s abdication of responsibility and insufficient response to the challenges of remote learning have denied Plaintiffs the basic educational equality guaranteed to them by the California Constitution,” it said. “Because the State’s pandemic response compels families to use their homes as classrooms, the State’s constitutional obligations expand into the home.”
The lawsuit reportedly names the state, the Department of Education, the state Board of Education and Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond as defendants.
Jesse Melgar, a spokesman for Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomNewsom pledges increased spending on busting retail crime rings The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Shipwreck sends waste thousands of miles MORE’s (D) office, defended the state’s handling of education during the pandemic, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"Throughout the pandemic this administration has taken important actions to protect student learning while also taking necessary steps to protect public health,” Melgar said in a statement to the newspaper. “We will defend our position in court.”
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the nation, was the defendant in a similar lawsuit filed in September. That suit alleged the district did not provide a basic, equal education during the pandemic to its Latino and Black students.