(Boston Globe) Massachusetts school officials have reported dozens of families to state social workers for possible neglect charges because of issues related to their children’s participation in remote learning classes during the pandemic shutdown in the spring, according to interviews with parents, advocates, and reviews of documents.
In most cases, lawyers and family advocates said, the referrals were made solely because students failed to log into class repeatedly. Most of the parents reported were mothers, and several did not have any previous involvement with social services.
The trend was most common in high-poverty, predominantly Black and Latino school districts in Worcester, Springfield, Haverhill, and Lynn; advocates and lawyers reported few, if any, cases from wealthier communities.
Among those parents is Em Quiles, who struggled to work her full-time job while overseeing her young son’s schooling. During remote class time, her 7-year-old was largely supervised by his teenage brother, who had his own school work to do.
Quiles said she told staff at Heard Street Discovery Academy in Worcester in the spring that her work schedule made it tough to assist with virtual schooling and she struggled to navigate the school’s online platforms. “They didn’t offer any help,” she said.
Then in June, Quiles was stunned to receive a call from the state’s Department of Children and Families. The school had accused Quiles of neglect, she was told, because the 7-year-old missed class and homework assignments.“I couldn’t believe it,” she said.
Quiles lived one of the worst nightmares for a parent: A neglect charge, if substantiated, can lead to removing a child from their home. It came during a period of unprecedented educational disruption, in which parents, students, and schools all struggled with ad-hoc routines that challenged even the most engaged, but would result in some being singled out…
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Editor’s Note. This article was written by Bianca Vázquez Toness and posted at The Boston Globe. Title changed by Pulpit & Pen
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