Sunday, July 7, 2024

In response to our legal challenge, DOE will now require parent consent before assigning students to online classes

In a big win for parents and students, the DOE significantly revised its guidance to schools about online learning after Class Size Matters and five parents launched our legal challenge three weeks ago. See the Daily News article here.

Originally, DOE had advised principals that they could assign students to online classes and keep them there until parents asked for their children to be removed, which violate the state regulations that require prior written parental consent.

But in response to our Commissioner's appeal filed on June 13, DOE emailed principals on July 1 and rewrote their instructions to align them with the regulations.  DOE sent the following email to principals:

Sure enough, the new DOE guidance makes it very clear that NO student can be assigned to an online class without prior parental consent.  See pp. 7-8:

See also p. 22:

We are not withdrawing our legal challenge,  in order to ensure that parents of children with disabilities receive IEP meetings before their children are placed in an online class, and so that DOE must validate that any student who assigned to an online class at home has adequate access to internet and the use of a laptop.  Finally, DOE should recognize the rights of parents to revoke their consent and have their children reassigned to a regular class if they are struggling. 
But forcing DOE officials to rewrite its guidance so emphatically is a significant victory and one that we hope will provide guardrails against what many parents believe is an unwise expansion of online learning -- which, as we witnessed during the pandemic, did not serve most students well academically or their need for social connection. 

Much thanks to our pro bono attorney, Laura Barbieri, and to the five parent plaintiffs, one from each borough: Amanda Vender, Tanesha Grant, Naila Rosario, Amy Ming Tsai, and Tia Schellstede.  As Tia put it,
"NYC parents will not accept the automation of our children’s education. Learning is a fundamentally human process. We are a community who cares about how policies affect our neighbors, and we work together to make sure that the city does not get away with breaking the law to deny vulnerable students of learning. We are vigilant and coordinated."


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