NEW YORK CITY — The de Blasio administration is being sued for its failure to provide students who live in city shelters access to reliable internet for educational purposes.
With the majority of the city's 1.1 million students in remote learning, those left behind are largely the homeless and the poor.
The 38 page lawsuit from the Legal Aid Society spells out how the city's homeless children have been denied access to virtual classrooms since March and how the city has failed to get them the education they deserve since the pandemic shut down schools.
The city failed to lay out a timeline to get these communities connected, only saying their goal was by the summer.
"The goal of the lawsuit is to get internet access available as quickly as possible," said Susan Horowitz, the Supervising Attorney from the Education Law Project. "You have had eight months to do this, let's get at least half of the school year."
The lawsuit lists a Jan. 4 deadline for schools to get internet access up to speed for all students.
The mayor says that students have gotten devices they needed but internet service has proved more challenging.
"If they needed a device, they get it but what we found was they had a device but needed different service, so we switch internet providers and send tech support into the shelters."
Rewiring city shelters is a big task but Horowitz says the longer the way, the more underpriviliged students get left behind.
The majority of these communities opted for 100% remote learning out of fear.
"Two of the named plaintiffs in our case are single parents, solely responsible for a several young children and can't take the risk of getting sick and don’t know what would happen with their kids if they became sick with COVID."
The digital divide has been deepened by a laptop shortage with 60,000 students across the city still needing devices.