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LAS Secures Working WiFi for Homeless Students at 200+ City Shelters

The Legal Aid Society and Milbank LLP announced a settlement in the E.G. et al. v. The City of New York et al. – class action litigation, which was filed last year on behalf of the Coalition for the Homeless and shelter residents with school-age children against the de Blasio Administration for its failure to provide students who reside in City shelters access to reliable internet service so they can attend school remotely.

The settlement requires the City to install wireless internet in over 200 shelters housing more than 11,000 school-aged children across the City, so that these children can participate in remote education during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, as reported by the New York Daily News.

As of April 1, 2021, the City has installed wireless internet in the vast majority of shelters – roughly 75 percent. For those shelters where installation remains incomplete, the City will undertake significant interim measures and support designed to ensure that all children housed in shelters have adequate remote educational access, and substantially complete installation by August 31, 2021.

The settlement also ensures that:

  • When families report a tablet-related issue, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) will:
    • reach out to those families within one school day of receiving the report;
    • undertake “best efforts” to determine if there is a need to exchange a City-provided SIM card, tablet, or individual hotspot, within two school days of speaking with the families;
    • and, if there is such a need, undertake “best efforts” to schedule the exchange within three school days of determining there is a need.
  • Shelter providers must continue to affix prominent signage in all shelters alerting residents, in all Local Law 30 languages, about the availability of this dedicated helpdesk and technical support.
  • Shelter providers must give each shelter resident a fact sheet containing the same information as part of the intake and arrival process for new residents; and to discuss the status of residents’ internet connectivity during regularly scheduled meetings with shelter case managers.

“We didn’t have a basis to trust that they were going to do it comprehensively and consistently and in a timely matter,” said Susan Horwitz, Supervising Attorney with the Education Law Project at The Legal Aid Society. “We had to file this lawsuit in order to make sure the city would be held to their word.”