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CMS Parents Sue Over Remote Opening, Demand Return To In-Person Classes

Thomas Park

Five Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools parents have sued the district over opening with all-remote instruction, saying the decision deprives students of their constitutional right to a sound basic education. 

The lawsuit, filed Sept. 3 in Mecklenburg County Superior Court and first reported on by the Charlotte Ledger, claims CMS has put the needs of teachers above those of students. It claims that students with special needs, racial minorities and low-income students who lack access to online technology are especially harmed by being denied access to in-person classes.

Parents Nicholas and Natalie Foy, Bryan Crutcher, Sandy Blakely White and Stephen Lonnen are listed as plaintiffs suing the school board, Superintendent Earnest Winston, board Chair Elyse Dashew and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators.

CMS spokesperson Brian Hacker said Tuesday the district has not been served. 

The CMS board approved an all-remote opening in July, after Gov. Roy Cooper gave districts the choice between bringing students back with social distancing or doing all remote instruction. At least 45 districts made the same choice, according to a state survey. More than half of the state’s students are learning from home either because their school districts opened remotely or because their families chose remote academies.

A Department of Public Instruction spokesman said Tuesday he's not aware of any other North Carolina schools or districts that have been sued over remote instruction.

The suit asks a judge to issue a preliminary injunction forcing CMS to bring students back then hold a jury trial. It claims the teachers association and Dashew took part in improper political lobbying to put the interests of teachers over students.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.