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Document Type

Notes

Abstract

Remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic (COVID-19) disrupted nearly every student’s life and will cause immense learning losses. Low-income students and students of color are the most likely to be in online classes, yet the least likely to have necessary resources to succeed in a remote school environment. Studies show that the COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to worsen the racial and socio-economic achievement gap in education. As a result, two groups of parents in California filed class action lawsuits alleging that the State of California and the Los Angeles Unified School District respectively failed to provide a basic education to students of color in impoverished neighborhoods since the school closures in spring 2020. Following the United States Supreme Court’s seminal ruling in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, education litigation has slowly progressed under State constitutions towards recognizing an affirmative duty for States to provide a free and equal education. The Supreme Court’s decision in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez in 1963 solidified that the federal Constitution does not guarantee an equal public education for all citizens. As such, since the federal Constitution does not guarantee the right to public education, but all state constitutions do, the citizens of California and other states must use their state constitution to enforce the constitutional guarantee of a free and equal education. During the Pandemic, California’s remote learning plan has disproportionately affected low-income students of color, while privileging students in wealthier districts. This Note contends that both class action complaints sufficiently allege an equal protection violation, spurring the need for judicial intervention, and providing a model for future litigants in other states. The courts, therefore, should advise the legislature to adopt a plan that accounts for the lost learning time and ensures the most disadvantaged students receive a meaningful education during and post COVID-19.

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