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LAS Sues City for Failing to Provide Students at Shelters Reliable Internet Access

The Legal Aid Society and Milbank LLP – representing the Coalition for the Homeless and certain individual shelter residents and their children – filed a lawsuit today in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York 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, reports the New York Daily News.

The lawsuit seeks to force the city to install WiFi in shelters across the city no later than Jan. 4, 2021, which is the first day of school after winter break.

Students in shelters have been struggling with virtual learning due to lack of WiFi or other reliable internet access in the shelter system. This litigation comes in response to the Mayor’s recent announcement that the City “cannot offer a detailed timeline” for WiFi installation and that its goal is to have “all [family] sites complete [by] this summer.” The City’s vague plan to prioritize installation for 27 shelters sometime “this winter” does not address the needs of thousands of homeless students who need working internet access now.

“Even in the buildings that are on the priority list we have not heard that they’re actually being addressed quickly,” said Susan Horwitz, Supervising Attorney of the Education Law Project at The Legal Aid Society.