Face-to-face summer school in Detroit turns Black children into 'guinea pigs,' lawsuit claims


Cass Tech High School in Detroit. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • Cass Tech High School in Detroit.

Reopening classrooms for face-to-face summer school amid the coronavirus pandemic in Detroit is “a deadly experiment” that turns Black children into “guinea pigs,” according to a lawsuit that seeks to shut down the classes.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday by a group of students, parents, and school employees, asks the Court of Claims to order the Detroit Public Schools Community District to halt classes until public health officials say it’s safe.

"Governor Whitmer and the Detroit Public Schools Community District are using Detroit’s Black children as guinea pigs for a deadly experiment for Michigan’s white citizens, with predictably fatal consequences for Detroit’s Black children, their teachers and school staff, and their families," the suit claims.

The plaintiffs allege the Gov. Whitmer, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, and state education and health officials are "carrying out Trump's insane policy of dismissing the recommendations of public health officials and reopening DPSCD without even minimal safety measures in place."

Vitti counters that summer school is voluntary.

“Our summer school program offers students, parents and teachers a voluntary face-to-face or online K-12 educational option," Vitti said in a statement to the Free Press. "No student, parent or teacher was required to participate face to face."

But plaintiffs argue that state and district officials are misleading parents about the dangers of face-to-face classes at a time when coronavirus cases are rising in Michigan. A disproportionate number of Black people have been infected by COVID-19 or died of the virus since March.

Summer classes began Monday, when protesters blocked buses from leaving the terminal.

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