200 families file federal lawsuit on behalf of students with special needs | WHEC.com

200 families file federal lawsuit on behalf of students with special needs

Lynette Adams
Created: July 20, 2020 05:11 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As school districts scrambled to get distance learning up and running this spring amid the pandemic, a recently filed lawsuit says they forgot about students with special needs.

Last Friday, a class-action lawsuit was filed in Manhattan by 200 hundred families in 10 states.

It says remote learning models were inadequate at best for students with special needs, especially students who require one on one assistance.

The lawsuit includes New York State.

It claims students entitled to federally protected programs have been abandoned and their parents have suffered as well. In some cases, parents left their jobs to care for their children.

As schools prepare to reopen, the lawsuit demands a resumption of full-time-in-person special education for children, fresh evaluations for children who have badly regressed, compensation for the parental expense incurred during remote learning and money for additional staff.

Executive Director of the Autism Council of Rochester and Chairman of the Monroe County Office of Mental Health Community Services Lawana Jones applauds parents for advocating for their children, but she says this is a complex issue.

“But I don't think the states can handle that alone, I know districts can't handle that alone,” Jones said. “So, I would expect our local lawmakers to work with the federal government, whether it's financial assistance [or] professional development, we're going to need federal aid in doing this.”

Jones says the conversations about services for children with special needs are just starting. She says parents should advocate for their children, but also work in partnership with their school districts to make sure children have services.

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