Amid Flint’s ongoing water crisis, the American Civil Liberties Union is fighting to secure the health and educational needs of students impacted by the contamination catastrophe.
The civil rights group noted that while lead in the blood will eventually dissipate, its harmful effects on the bodies and minds of schoolchildren could be long-lasting, local station WNEM reported. That’s why the nonprofit is suing the state of Michigan and demanding that every child living through the crisis be screened for health and educational disabilities.
“Today is day 1,303 since we’ve been dealing with the water crisis,” parent and Flint water activist Melissa Mays told the news station. “It’s just too much for these kids.”
“My son had to relearn how to learn,” she added. “He had to do it a different way, but he was lucky because he had the support to help him and tutor him – but most of the public schools don’t have that.”
The complaint, filed on behalf of thousands of Flint families in October 2016, accuses the state, the Michigan Department of Education, Flint Community Schools and the Genesee Intermediate School District of failing to “…provide a safe learning environment [and] to allocate sufficient resources” for students. The ACLU also alleges that the agencies didn’t “ensure the availability of necessary personnel or adequately prep” for a likely upsurge in special education cases due to the widespread lead exposure.
Moreover, the suit asks that a judge force the groups into providing more help to affected children through:
- Implementation of positive behavioral interventions, in every school.
- The prevention of unnecessary and illegal suspensions and expulsions.
- Monitoring of corrective measures needed to meet the educational needs of all students.
Mays, who supports the lawsuit and has participated in the proceedings, said the goal isn’t to win money, but resources for the students.
“Help, they need mental help,” she told WNEM. “They need emotional help, educational and physical help … it’s on the state who is mostly responsible for this to help. And they should want to because no state should want a city to fail.”
“Especially school kids,” Mays added. “You should not fail these children.”