New York City schools are leaving children behind, a new class action lawsuit filed by Harlemparents says. The first of its kind, the lawsuit alleges that failing school systems have neglected to inform parents about their educational options, including the No Child Left Behind Act’s (NCLB) provision that allows students to be transferred into non-failing schools and receive free tutoring services. In New York City alone, according to information cited in the lawsuit, 282,000 children in 381 failing schools can benefit from the federal law, enacted in January 2002.
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The New York Department of Education and Albany School District are mentioned specifically in the lawsuit for violating NCLB by:
Denying transfer requests by parents of children in failing schools
Failing to notify parents of their right to transfer and/or their eligibility for supplemental education services (SES)
Having no official process to accommodate transfers
The U.S. Department of Education estimates that 3.5 million children attend 8,600 failing public schools across the nation. The problem is, say school choice advocates, that very few people are aware of the NCLB option to transfer. "There certainly hasn't been the kind of clear-cut communication that is as extensive as it needs to be about this law," says Jeanne Allen, president of Washington, D.C.-based Center for Education Reform. "First, school districts tried to skirt their responsibility because they didn't buy into it. Now, it seems, they are trying to do the least possible to comply."
The suit asks school districts to allocate funds for free tutoring, notify families of their eligibility and enable mid-term school transfers. Charlie King, the attorney who filed the suit, says he intends to revise the lawsuit so that parents from other cities can be included.
“These school districts, through their actions and inaction, have denied hundreds of thousands of children these basic rights.”
--Class Action Attorney Charlie King
[As reported January 28, 2003 in the Washington Post, and January 30, 2003 in the New York Post.]
To view the full January 28, 2003 Washington Post article, click here.
To view the full January 30, 2003 New York Post article, click here.
To view the full complaint filed on January 27, 2003, click here. (To view this file, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader. Click here to get the Reader. Also, please note that PDF files are sometimes large and may take a few moments to download.)