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In possible first for Oklahoma, Stillwater parents file suit over distance learning

In possible first for Oklahoma, Stillwater parents file suit over distance learning


A group of Stillwater Public Schools parents on Monday filed suit against the district over distance learning.

The six parents are asking a Payne County District Court to force the district to provide traditional access to in-classroom services and reopen all public school facilities.

The district is using blended learning based on the COVID-19 threat level. They currently are using some in-person and some distance learning and offer virtual coursework as well.

Defendants include Stillwater Public Schools, Superintendent Marc Moore, the Stillwater Public Schools Board of Education and school board members.

“There has been a gross dereliction of duty and this Court must immediately act to ensure that the children of the Stillwater public school are no longer ignored, neglected, and failed by those entrusted to educate them,” according to the brief.

Distance learning requires parents and guardians to spend their own money to accommodate the ill-advised and poorly implemented education model, the suit said.

It neglects their right to a constitutional free public education, the suit said.

“The Defendants’ decision to implement Distance Learning ignores the needs of their student body as well as the harsh reality that parents and guardians, even if available, are not equipped to provide the same standard of education that is accessible through In-Classroom services provided by a credentialed teaching staff,” the suit said.

The suit is also seeking a declaration that parents and guardians have the right to choose which method of instruction is best suited for their child or ward.

The suit seeks attorney’s fees, costs and other damages allowed by law.

“Throughout Oklahoma and the nation, parents are genuinely concerned for the education of their children when not receiving instruction through a traditional in-school environment,” said a statement from the district. “Every district leader, every board member and every parent involved in these conversations faces an incredible challenge in balancing student academic, social, emotional, and physical well-being during this pandemic.

“It is disappointing that the pandemic has led to such a situation. Stillwater Public Schools and its Board desire a safe return to full-time, in-person instruction, and will continue to thoughtfully consider the important issues raised by these parents’ claims.”

The action may be the first of its nature filed in Oklahoma. Officials with the Oklahoma State School Boards Association were not aware of any other lawsuits of such a nature.

COVID-19 basics everyone needs to know as the pandemic continues

Barbara Hoberock


Twitter: @bhoberock

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