Video | U.S.: ACLU Files ‘Right to Read’ Lawsuit

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has filed what it is calling a “first-of-its-kind” lawsuit against the state, its Department of Education and one Detroit-area school district for allegedly failing to teach students to read at grade level.   The lawsuit alleges that hundreds of students from the Detroit-area district are functionally illiterate. The school district has not responded to the legal action and is already facing an $11 million deficit, and so the problem may not be corrected anytime soon.


The suit names the Highland Park school district as a defendant, and it seeks to have the state and school district enforce a state law requiring that “a pupil who does not score satisfactorily on the 4th or 7th grade reading test shall be provided special assistance reasonably expected to enable the pupil to bring his or her reading skills to grade level within 12 months.”


Filed as a class action on behalf of eight students who, the ACLU said, represent nearly 1,000 students in the district, the lawsuit cites individual cases of students struggling with basic literacy.  One of the student plaintiffs reportedly failed the state’s standardized tests in his fourth, fifth and sixth grade years without receiving “any specialized reading intervention in 4th or 5th grade,” the lawsuit says.  Another student plaintiff has, according to the suit, attended Highland Park schools since first grade and after completing eighth grade earlier this year “his reading proficiency level is appropriate for the 2nd or 3rd grade.”


Highland Park is one of the worst performing school districts in Michigan, according to the state Department of Education, and its high school currently ranks in the bottom 1% statewide.


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