The outbreak of COVID-19 caused life to change for many people in a variety of ways. This is reflected in the education system through the closure of in-person schooling and the continuation of education online during this time. While the state worked to provide students with different resources, a pair of families in Bucks County filed a class action suit against Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education in federal court. The basis of the lawsuit is that online education for students with autism during these school shutdowns has been “insufficient.” It is important to note that Attorney Fennick is not the lawyer on this case.
When the school closures began, the United States Education Department announced they were “ready to offer guidance, technical assistance, information on any available flexibility, within the confines of the law, to ensure that all students, including students with disabilities, continue receiving excelled education during this difficult time.” However, within the class action suit that was filed, the families claim that “online learning is wholly inadequate to meet the needs of nonverbal and partially verbal children with autism who rely upon…in-person instruction.” This suit raises a variety of legal, financial, and ethical questions pertaining to the special education system.
The case was filed on behalf of all public school students in the state of Pennsylvania who have autism and are either nonverbal or partially verbal. The attorneys representing the children within the suit criticize the state’s Governor for not mandating districts to provide better in-person special education services as some private special education programs are operating as “life sustaining” businesses. The lawsuit requests “compensatory damages” for the students that are represented and asks the court to strike down Pennsylvania’s ban against in-person school services for children with autism.
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Anderson, Converse & Fennick is an experienced law firm in York County, Pennsylvania focusing on Education Law, Family Law, Estate Planning, and Civil Litigation matters. If you need a knowledgeable attorney that will effectively represent your interests, contact Anderson, Converse & Fennick today.