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Judge allows ACLU suit demanding better education for Flint children to move forward

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

A class-action lawsuit claiming state and local education officials are not doing enough to identify and educate Flint students exposed to lead-tainted tap water is moving forward.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow brushed aside almost all the legal motions offered by attorneys for the Michigan Department of Education, Flint Community Schools and the Genesee Intermediate School District seeking to dismiss the suit.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan brought the lawsuit. It seeks disability screening and programs for Flint schoolchildren through high school.   

“All children over the age of four through high school should at least be evaluated for whether or not they have a disability,” says Kary Moss, ACLU Michigan executive director. “And then, provided services that are required under federal law.”

Tarnow’s ruling is an important step for the lawsuit. However, the legal process could take a long time.

The ACLU’s Kary Moss says there is no need for this case to drag through the courts, while Flint’s children grow older.

“This is really up to the state,” says Moss. “They don’t need to fight this, tooth and nail, which is what they’ve done so far.”

A spokesman for the state Department of Education declined to comment on the lawsuit.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.