Note: We wish these families well. They and their children deserve to be acknowledged, educated and receive reparations for the damage done by the water in Flint. There is little in the world more painful than watching your children being poisoned. Except perhaps being told that you're crazy, seeking to blame someone and the poisoning never happened and has always been here....
Now imagine legislators across the nation telling families that this water is healthy and then mandating a bottle a day to attend school.
From WBUR (a Boston public radio station owned by Boston University)
More than a dozen families in Flint, Michigan, are suing the public school system, arguing their children were exposed to brain-damaging levels of lead during the water crisis six years ago.
The parents say that exposure may have caused or exacerbated their children’s disability-related needs. These families will make their case in federal court this summer.
“What we're enforcing in this lawsuit in federal court is a federal entitlement statute that children are identified and that their disability-related needs are provided with accommodations and services so that they can access a quality education,” says Kristen Totten, an education attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan.
This case is just one of several lawsuits against the Flint school system. The city’s rate of special education students has grown steadily since the water crisis began –– 28% of students are in special education programs, while the national average is about 13%.
Medical professionals have said there's no way to prove conclusively that lead has caused new disabilities in Flint. But it has been proven that children exposed to lead are at higher risk of neurological damage and developmental delays.
Jessica Gutierrez, a Flint native and mother of five, says she noticed significant behavioral changes in her children since the water crisis.
“I've had a child that was potty trained and now all of a sudden she has a problem with incontinence,” Gutierrez says. “The worst types of behavioral issues are the ones where you can see that your child realizes that what they're doing is not normal.”
Her children were tested, and all five were diagnosed with different psychological and development issues. But only one of her children is currently in a special education program.
“If you have the privilege and you have the knowledge about the workings of the school system and you run into a parent or you see a parent or a child that needs help, advocate for them,” Gutierrez says. “And we hope that the cure to fix this problem will come in our time. It's not just to help the future because we need help now.” Read more here.