The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Thursday alleging that the Highland Park School District [official website] has violated state and federal law by failing to ensure that students are reading at grade level. The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court [official website] on behalf of eight Highland Park students, cites a "right to read" provision in Michigan law [Detroit News report] that seeks to ensure that students who have trouble reading are given assistance to help improve their literacy. The lawsuit explains:
[T]he opportunity to achieve basic proficiency in reading sufficient to allow a student to access curricular content is a constitutional "bottom lin," codified in statute by the Legislature consistent with its constitutional obligation to maintain and support a public education system. This bottom line applies to all students.According to the ACLU, two-thirds of students in the Highland Park School District lack the basic reading skills to pass Michigan proficiency standards.
The lawsuit, apparently the first of its kind, also lists as defendants the state of Michigan, the Michigan Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Emergency Manager of Highland Park. The eight students listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit represent nearly 1,000 students in the Highland Park School District. The ACLU of Michigan is requesting immediate help from the state [press release] including research-based methods of instruction, highly trained educators and administrators, a process for monitoring progress, new educational materials and textbooks, and a clean and safe learning environment.