The Corner

Politics & Policy

NYC Parents Suing to Reopen Schools

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (left), Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and New York Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez visit a Pre-K class at Public School 123 Suydam in Brooklyn in 2016. (Anthony DelMundo/Pool via Reuters)

The utter fiasco that is New York City’s Department of Education continues to devastate children. The DOE is essentially a servant to the United Federation of Teachers chief Michael Mulgrew, and has been maintaining an insane standard that has predictably led to chaos: If two cases are detected in a school, that school and all others in the building get shut down, with no time for parents to prepare. (In the city, many schools can share space in a single building, including non-DOE. charter schools such as the hugely successful Success Academy schools). As of January, only about a third of New York City public schools (which serve, or are supposed to serve, more than a million children) were offering in-person learning. A combination of in-person learning and remote learning is the norm. Read this post from ProPublica if you want a sense of what a dumpster fire public education has been in New York City for the past year. Schools have been opening and frantically closing for months.

After close consultation with Mulgrew, Bill de Blasio’s DOE has decided to slightly loosen standard: four linked cases in a school means the school gets shut down, but not necessarily the whole building. Well. Baby steps. After more than a year of misery, and psychological and pedagogical damage to a million kids. And after teachers and school administrators have had plenty of time to get themselves vaccinated. It’s almost like the teachers’ union doesn’t want to go back to on-site work, and is using the pandemic to drag its feet. But surely a group that has vowed for decades that it’s “all about the children” wouldn’t be all about its employees, children be damned? The teachers union is, of course, ignoring “the science,” which informs us that in-school transmission is rare, kids aren’t particularly vulnerable to COVID and, oh yeah, that you’re probably ok if you’ve been vaccinated. Virtually every New York City teacher who wants the vaccine has had ample opportunity to get it by now, three months after they were allowed to skip to the front of the line to get the jab.

A group of parents has had enough and is suing the schools for an injunction to force them to offer five days a week of in-person learning. Upper West Side mom Natalya Murakhver, who started the fund-raising campaign, told the New York Post that she was moved to action because “this city is not putting its children first.” Other parents complain that kids, particularly the younger ones, are completely unable to learn via laptop.

The group has launched a GoFundMe campaign that has brought in $22,000 to pay for legal services. They say they will file suit in state supreme court today. Long Island lawyer James Mermigis, who previously used to reopen the schools last November, told the Post, “This lawsuit is necessary to help these children. There are children that are not doing well. They’re not coping. They have regressed significantly because of the remote learning.”

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