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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Families of children with disabilities are suing over closed schools

The lawsuit claims school districts violated federal law by failing to provide services for children with disabilities when schools closed due to coronavirus.

Parents around the country who have children with disabilities have filed a class-action lawsuit urging schools to reopen immediately. 

The complaint claims that when school districts closed for the coronavirus pandemic, they ignored federal law by failing to provide adequate services for students who have developmental or physical disabilities. 

Patrick Donahue, a New York City lawyer and founder of the Brain Injury Rights Group, filed the lawsuit and told NY 1 there are more than 500 plaintiffs from 25 states who have signed onto the complaint. The complaint specifically names New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and school districts in all 50 states. 

"There are over 7 million students nationwide receiving special education services and it's absolutely horrible what's going on for these kids and these school districts have in essence very simply violated federal law," Donahue said to NY 1

The lawsuit calls on school districts to immediately reopen or asks for parents to be given "Pendency Vouchers" to pay for the services needed along with their students' Individualized Education Plans. 

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Donahue, who also founded a New York school for students with brain injury and brain-based disorders, told NBC New York it was reasonable to close schools for a few weeks due to health concerns. He says it's now putting kids' health at risk by keeping schools closed. 

"This is beyond negligent, it's borderline criminal what's happening," Donahue claimed

The lawsuit also seeks new evaluations for students and compensation for parents who may have suffered "employment loss or out-of-pocket expenses" while trying to provide their children with the services they needed.