On September 13, 2016, seven school children, represented by a California public interest law firm, filed a class action suit against Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and state education officials in the Eastern District of Michigan under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs alleged that the state denied ...
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On September 13, 2016, seven school children, represented by a California public interest law firm, filed a class action suit against Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and state education officials in the Eastern District of Michigan under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs alleged that the state denied students their constitutional right to literacy.
The plaintiffs are students at five of Detroit’s lowest performing schools: Hamilton Academy, Experiencia Preparatory Academy, Medicine and Community Health Academy at Cody, Osborn Academy of Mathematics, and Osborn Evergreen Academy of Design and Alternative Energy. The student proficiency rates in these schools hover near zero in core subject areas. At Hamilton, for example, 100% of the 6th graders scored below proficiency in both reading and math.
The lawsuit documents what it alleges to be pervasive conditions that deny children the opportunity to attain literacy, including lack of books, classrooms without teachers, insufficient desks, buildings plagued by vermin, unsafe facilities, and extreme temperatures.
The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated the Fourteenth Amendment under Due Process and Equal Protection Clause, by denying them the access to literacy, as compared to other students in Michigan, and by functionally excluding plaintiffs from Michigan’s statewide system of public education. Second, the defendants affirmatively created or increased the risk that plaintiffs would be exposed to dangerous conditions, which placed plaintiffs specifically at risk, and plaintiffs were harmed as a result, although the defendants knew or should have known their acts or omissions specifically endangered the plaintiffs. Third, the defendants intentionally discriminated against the plaintiffs, or responded with deliberate indifference, on the basis of the plaintiffs’ race. Fourth, the defendants violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when the defendants utilized criteria or methods of administration which have the effect of subjecting individuals to discrimination because of their race, color, or national origin. Fifth, the defendants sought a a judicial declaration that the defendants have violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The plaintiffs asked the court to order the State to provide relief that includes appropriate, evidence-based literacy instruction at all grade levels and to address physical school conditions that impair access to literacy.
This case is ongoing. Soojin Cha - 10/03/2016