Lawsuit filed against Grand Island school district and others seeking to fully reopen schools

Posted at 6:48 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 18:48:26-04

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WKBW) — Some local parents are fighting to get students back into the classroom full-time.

HoganWillig says a lawsuit has been filed against Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of Health, the Grand Island Central School District, the district’s Superintendent and others.

According to the law firm, the suit argues that the decision to "singularly offer a “hybrid” learning model for those students and families who wish to attend in-person is harmful to students, contributes to stress and severe mental health issues, and poses a significant threat to a child’s normal growth and development."

“I think the damage that has and is being done amongst our youth far outweighs any disease risk mitigation for them. These kids want to be in school, and now with vaccination widely available to the teachers and staff in these buildings, it's long past time for schools to reopen fully” says Corey Hogan of HoganWillig.

Some parents have formed an organization called Coalition of Grand Island Parents to Put Students First.

“Forcing students to learn remotely has proven to be disastrous. So many of our kids are struggling, not only with their grades and keeping up academically, but they are missing out on socialization and the enrichment opportunities that a school environment provides” says a coalition member.

The Grand Island Central School District has issued this statement:
"The District has been committed to returning to full in-person instruction as soon as we can responsibly, safely and legally do so. Governor Cuomo, through
his legal authority to issue disaster emergency executive orders, established compliance with certain pandemic-related guidance as a specific condition necessary in order for a school district to be open for instruction for the current school year. State Education
Department approval of the District’s reopening plan was likewise conditioned on compliance with the mandatory elements of the SED guidance document. The District accordingly is legally required to comply with such guidance and directives, including with respect
to social distancing standards, use of masks, and the wide variety of other measures and requirements. The failure of the District to meet its legal obligations and comply with mandatory guidance could result in serious enforcement actions, liability and other
adverse consequences. The District will be prepared for the return to full in-person instruction when future modifications to mandatory guidance permit us to do so. Meantime, I am tremendously proud of the combined efforts of our students, faculty and staff
in the operation of our educational program over the past year in the face of the unprecedented challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic."

The law firm says they plan to bring additional lawsuits against other districts in Western New York that are similarly offering only remote or hybrid learning models.

The full petition can be found here.