On October 18, 2016, fifteen families living in Flint, Michigan filed a class-action lawsuit against the state of Michigan and the Flint school district demanding that help be provided to students in the area’s public school system who are experiencing worsening behavior and academic performance issues as a result of the city’s now infamous contaminated water crisis.
The contamination crisis began in the spring of 2014 after Flint switched its water supply from Detroit and Lake Huron to the Flint River. Government officials insisted the switch would be temporary until the city could complete a new water line pipe to Lake Huron. However, water from the Flint River was improperly treated causing lead from the pipes to dissolve into the water supply. Many parents in the area worry that their children are at risk for serious disabilities as a result of the lead-tainted water. The number of children in the Flint area who are experiencing learning disabilities has increased steadily since the water crisis broke almost 18 months ago; however, the capabilities of the area’s public school system to cope with children with special needs has not risen in tandem with the demand. Plaintiffs argue that the Flint public school system was operating at a subpar level even before the crisis and that the increased need for student assistance has only highlighted the problem further.
As a result of the public school system’s inability to cope with the needs of their students, many parents worry that Flint children are being robbed of an opportunity for a quality education. Parents in the suit are seeking a review of the educational plans for children with disabilities, additional staff training and preschool for all children with enhanced screening for children beginning at age three to determine if special education is needed.
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