SOMSD Sued by Group of Local Parents

Several parents have filed a suit in U.S. District Court against the School District, BOE, and Superintendent requesting in-person instruction five days per week.  The suit was filed by Keri Avellini, an attorney based in East Orange, who is also the wife of the lead plaintiff.

https://villagegreennj.com/schools-kids/parents-sue-south-orange-maplewood-school-district-seek-full-return-to-in-person-learning/

"A group of parents have filed a lawsuit against the South Orange-Maplewood School District, Superintendent Ronald Taylor and the Board of Education, alleging that online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic is harming students and allowing those who receive special services to fall between the cracks."


I read that.  11 parents wanting "at least" 5 days of on person instruction per week, claiming it as a constitutional right.


Does Keri Avellini have kids in the school district? Anyone knows? Ridiculous.


Jaytee said:

Does Keri Avellini have kids in the school district? Anyone knows? Ridiculous.

 "The suit was filed by Keri Avellini, an attorney based in East Orange, who is also the wife of the lead plaintiff."  So I assume the answer is "Yes", although as the "wife of the lead plaintiff", suing on behalf of (her) minor children, she is effectively a plaintiff representing herself.


Can you post the complaint?  Unless they get a preliminary injunction, which seems very doubtful to me (assuming they are even seeking one), I'm not sure what the point is. The kids will likely be back in school in the fall long before a lawsuit like this will end.  


nohero said:

Jaytee said:

Does Keri Avellini have kids in the school district? Anyone knows? Ridiculous.

 "The suit was filed by Keri Avellini, an attorney based in East Orange, who is also the wife of the lead plaintiff."  So I assume the answer is "Yes", although as the "wife of the lead plaintiff", suing on behalf of (her) minor children, she is effectively a plaintiff representing herself.

The quick answer is yes, she has a student(s) in the district.


bub said:

Can you post the complaint?  

There’s a link to a PDF at the bottom of this Village Green article.

https://villagegreennj.com/schools-kids/parents-sue-south-orange-maplewood-school-district-seek-full-return-to-in-person-learning/


Looks like I'm getting paywall blocked.  Give me name of plaintiff and I'll look it up on official court web site.


Never mind. Jamie linked it.


jamie said:

Here's the complaint.

Based on the claims, is Scott Atlas going to be the expert witness for reopening the schools for all students?

[Edited to add] For example, citation to a document last updated under Trump's CDC.  

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/pediatric-hcp.html


yahooyahoo said:

The quick answer is yes, she has a student(s) in the district.

 Is OLS private school part of the SOMSD?


Looks like this is oriented specifically to kids who receive special services...


berkeley said:

Looks like this is oriented specifically to kids who receive special services...

 Not as the students are described in the complaint.


What's to prevent every parent from suing the school system over forced virtual learning?  Is this mainly to try to force a 100% re-opening?


The stats they provided were pretty compelling for lower grade or elementary school opening.  Starting around page 19.

They're using this site as reference:

https://covidschooldashboard.com/


This lawsuit has not shown up on the court site yet but the lawsuit filed in January against the Scotch Plains school district, which this complaint cross-references to, has.  It looks like the preliminary injunction motion in that case was argued in the last few days so expect a decision soon.  Attached is the Scotch Plains school district's (lengthy, dense) opposition to the motion.  I'm guessing SOMA will borrow from it.  It confirmed my recollection from law school con law that contrary to what the plaintiffs in both cases say, there has never been a recognized federal constitutional right to an education (state con law is different).

Dembiec Opp to PI.pdf

nohero said:

[Edited to add] For example, citation to a document last updated under Trump's CDC.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/pediatric-hcp.html

Likewise, the Covid-19 School Response Dashboard, cited several times for infection rates, is an opt-in repository of self-reported data from a small percentage of schools. It could easily be a case of incomplete data being worse than no data.

And while the lawsuit highlights the recommendation for in-school learning by the American Academy of Pediatrics — which, sure, everyone knows that in-school is better than remote — the academy’s Key Principles end with this one: “Federal, state, and local funding should be provided for all schools so they can provide all the safety measures required for students and staff.” The group quotes its president as saying, “Such as improving ventilation systems and providing personal protective equipment for teachers and staff.”

ETA: Cross-posted with Jamie’s comment about the dashboard.


Looking into it further - this is some of the data they're using:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1U0FSbm77qXB4shssE66EFgp-I8Ia_I6_xYrotKk3Zqg/edit#gid=1474379494

From what I can see - there's really very little data here that can properly justify a full re-open of a school system.  Most are hybrid and remote.  I can't see any where all students are fully enrolled in person.


bub said:

This lawsuit has not shown up on the court site yet but the lawsuit filed in January against the Scotch Plains school district, which this complaint cross-references to, has.  It looks like the preliminary injunction motion in that case was argued in the last few days so expect a decision soon.  

I would be very surprised if a court grants a request to compel more in-person classes as injunctive relief. 


jamie said:

The stats they provided were pretty compelling for lower grade or elementary school opening. Starting around page 19.

They're using this site as reference:

https://covidschooldashboard.com/

Confusingly, the dashboard’s FAQ says the infection rate “applies to in-person only or hybrid learning environments.” So I’m not sure how the suit came up with the infection rate for remote learning for comparison. (Maybe there’s a way to get that data, too, from the dashboard, but I admit I’m not willing to take the time to learn how to use it.)


From what I can see - most of the schools that are all in-person are private. The student/teacher ratio isn't very comparative to a public school.


nohero said:


I would be very surprised if a court grants a request to compel more in-person classes as injunctive relief. 

 Ditto.  Would take huge melons.  Also, in general, the courts have always been deferential to governmental decisions about health safety and welfare.


This suit is going nowhere.


My children aren't school aged but I cant imagine a remote learning curriculum created on the fly due to necessity is really that effective or well thought out. 


how many people have gotten sick...and more importantly died...after catching covid from an asymptomatic student?  people refuse to understand that while many children are asymptomatic, they can pick up and transmit the virus.  and data only shows KNOWN cases.  many people don't get tested---especially kids of parents who want schools fully open....if more kids were tested, there would be more of an argument against opening schools.

in a school, groups are together for over 40 minutes at a time, in elementary school, the same group is together for hours, giving more time for germs to accumulate.   its not like a grocery store, where you may be near the same person for a few minutes.


What's happening now is not "home schooling". That means something completely different from. The remote learning that's happening now.

It may sound pedantic but I think it's an important distinction. 


mrincredible said:

What's happening now is not "home schooling". That means something completely different from. The remote learning that's happening now.

It may sound pedantic but I think it's an important distinction. 

 Fixed for the discussion as my point stands. (I've seen the terms used interchangeably so I wasnt aware that the 2 were completely different)


the_18th_letter said:

My children aren't school aged but I cant imagine a home school curriculum created on the fly due to necessity is really that effective or well thought out. 

FWIW: The intention is to teach the regular curriculum. The teachers lead live classes (lectures/presentations/class discussions, etc.) online, the students can ask teachers questions in real time, and the teacher sets up 'breakout rooms' for things like partner projects during class. The kids submit classwork/homework electronically, and also take assessments electronically. Sometimes they are assigned videos to watch to supplement the class (e.g., lab experiments).


sprout said:

FWIW: The intention is the teach the regular curriculum. The teachers give live lectures online, the students can ask teachers questions in real time, and the teacher sets up 'breakout rooms' for things like partner projects during class. The kids submit classwork/homework electronically, and also take assessments electronically.

 I'm quite sure the intentions were noble but the actual execution seems to be less than desirable or effective. Again I have no first hand experience just the discussions I've had with friends who have school age children. 



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