The lead water crisis in Flint, Michigan has plagued the city and its community for the past several years. Flint’s schoolchildren bear a significant brunt of the crisis, as school-age children are susceptible to cognitive and behavioral impairments when exposed to lead.
But, there is renewed hope for Flint's children. This month, attorneys from White & Case LLP, the Education Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan reached an agreement with the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), the Genesee Intermediate School District (GISD) and Flint Community Schools (FCS) to launch a groundbreaking program. This program will provide universal screening, and in-depth assessments when necessary, for all Flint children impacted by the water crisis. The agreement comes as part of a class action lawsuit filed in 2016 against MDE, GISD and FCS on behalf of affected Flint children.
The lawsuit and subsequent agreement has received much media coverage, and a new story in American weekly magazine The Nation details the new program and quotes Lindsay Heck, an associate for the Firm’s Commercial Litigation Practice.
The story says that according to Heck, the program should help reverse an "untenable cycle" of victimization for lead-impacted children, in which under-diagnosis "results in them not only being deprived of the essential educational programs and services that they need, but…places them at an additional risk of being disciplined and removed from the classroom environment, which compounds their cumulative educational deficit."
The program will utilize the Flint Registry, which was founded to support victims of the water crisis, and expanded assessment services by the Genesee Health System/Hurley Children’s Hospital Neurodevelopmental Center of Excellence (NCE). Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of the Michigan State University-Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, will lead the program. The program is set to begin at the start of the 2018-19 school year.
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