Jailed students file suit alleging DCPS hasn’t offered virtual school since pandemic began

Two students who are serving sentences in the DC Jail have filed a lawsuit against D.C. Public Schools and the State Superintendent of Education, claiming that the city hasn’t offered any virtual or in-person instruction to kids in custody since the pandemic began.

In the complaint, the two incarcerated students say there are 42 other high school-aged students in the on-site school at the DC Jail who they claim have not been offered any instruction by D.C. Public Schools since March 2020.

Instead, the complaint said, the students who all have disabilities for special needs have only received “inaccessible, inadequate and inconsistently delivered work packets in lieu of classes.”

“I am fighting for this case so people who are in my predicament can have a chance to succeed. I want to have a better education for myself and others,” Plaintiff Israel F., one of the students, said in a news release about the lawsuit.

Attorneys who filed suit earlier this week are asking the court provide special education and Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs, through in-person or virtual classes, as well as counseling sessions.

“The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and District of Columbia law require that defendants provide or otherwise ensure the provision of a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) to these students,” the Washington Lawyers for Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

In response to the suit, D.C. Public Schools offered this statement:

“DCPS is committed to providing every student, including those receiving special education services, with a high-quality education that improves their academic outcomes and prepares them for life-long success. While we cannot comment on pending litigation, we will actively work with the Office of the Attorney General to address the lawsuit.”

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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