Federal law requires that no child be denied an equal education during a pandemic or otherwise

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, May 4, 2020

Jefferson City: The ACLU of Missouri, with 18 other organizations, sent a letter of recommendations to Governor Parson and Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Vandeven urging their offices to take steps to combat the School to Prison Pipeline during COVID-19. All children have an equal right to education. However, before the crisis, Black students in Missouri and students with disabilities were disproportionately subjected to the School to Prison pipeline. Missouri has one of the largest discipline disparity gaps by race and disability status in the country, a problem that the disruption of the school year due to COVID-19 could exacerbate.

During the COVID-19 crisis, students with disabilities have experienced reduced access to IDEA resources and students of color, and those from low-income backgrounds have diminished access to online educational resources. Parents who do not speak English have received minimal resources. This must change, and we can start building today.

With federal resources coming in, Missouri must allocate funds to ensure that all Missouri students are given an equal chance to succeed. Our government can keep kids safe and learning during this crisis by addressing the digital divide, complying with the ADA, protecting parent's rights regarding IEP’s, and a host of other actions recommended by the ACLU of Missouri and partners. We hope to partner with the Governor and Commissioner Vandeven as they assess these resources so that both our current response and our future rebuilding efforts uplift all Missouri students.

“During Covid-19, we hope that the Governor and Commissioner Vandeven will do everything in their power to support and protect our most vulnerable students in Missouri. Failure to address the structural inequalities will extend beyond the classroom into the social and economic health of our state for generations.” Luz María Henríquez Executive Director American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri