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Hamilton Academy in Detroit struggled to replace a middle school math teacher who quit over crowded classrooms and a lack of support. When administrators couldn’t refill the position, they tapped the brightest eighth-grader in the school to teach math classes to his peers.
That is just one of many allegations in a federal lawsuit against Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and other state education officials. The suit complains about poor conditions in the troubled Detroit Public Schools Community District, the Business Insider reports.
The lawsuit was filed Sep. 14 on behalf of seven students, who are Black or Hispanic; at least one of them attends Hamilton, a charter school within the district.
According to The Insider, the lawsuit blames the state for allowing “slum-like conditions” in schools that serve mainly students of color. Consequently, many of those students struggle to read, write, and solve math problems at a basic level of proficiency.
Those conditions create “separate and unequal” schools, which violate the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, the lawsuit alleges.
It claims that the plaintiffs and their classmates receive books that are outdated and damaged beyond readability. Moreover, the schools have insufficient books, so students must share the textbooks and are not allowed to take them home to do homework.
Unlike the schools in wealthier locations, the schools attended by the plaintiffs and their classmates also lack basic supplies like pencils and toilet paper.
The appalling conditions at schools in the district are well-known. Rodents and roaches infest decrepit school buildings that are plagued by mold. Teachers have organized widespread sickouts to complain about pay and conditions.
Brian Whiston, Michigan’s education superintendent, told The Insider that he could not comment on the lawsuit because it had not yet reached his desk. However, he stated that his office is concerned about the literacy of all the state’s children.
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