A Cape Henlopen High School student has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the district over what she called "unequal" remote learning opportunities.
The student, who is a minor and identified in the complaint only as "N.G." is going into her senior year of high school and must participate in distance learning due to her mother's health problems, which put her mother at high risk for serious complications if she contracted the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
The six-page complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court in Delaware by attorney David Finger names the Cape Henlopen School District and its superintendent Robert Fulton. It claims that students, like the plaintiff, who've opted for remote learning only get one day of live teacher instruction via Zoom on Wednesdays while students who opted for in-person learning will get two days of in-person teaching.
"This will put N.G. and all those similarly situated at an educational disadvantage, as in-person students will have the tangible and intangible benefits of being guided by a teacher for an additional day, including the ability to progress through the curriculum at a faster pace. This will also place N.G. and other seniors at a competitive disadvantage in regard to college admissions," the complaint reads.
The complaint goes on to note that N.G.'s mother contacted the district about this, and Dr. Michael Young, supervisor of secondary education told her: "the school 'doesn't have teachers or staffing' to provide equitable teacher time to both hybrid and virtual cohorts."
The lawsuit further alleges this denies an "equal education" to students who are learning remotely and "intentionally" discriminates against students who chose the remote learning option.
"Reducing by 50% the amount of teacher-led instruction of students learning remotely will cause permanent, devastating, irreparable harm -- harm incapable of subsequent correction. Those students will receive an inferior education, psychologically damaging to their self-image, academically damaging to their opportunities for higher learning, and economically damaging to their ability to perform in an adult world," the complaint noted.
"It is the District’s practice not to comment on pending litigation," said Superintendent Robert Fulton in an email.
Finger did not return a request for further comment.
Here's the full complaint: