Ordinarily, decisions on how best to educate children and protect the public rest with elected officials, said Tom Hutton, interim executive director of the Education Law Association. “But a combination of factors is bringing these things to the court, one being that the stakes are so very high from an education and health standpoint,” he said.
Many judges now find themselves faces with a balancing act.
“I think courts generally are deferential to public health authorities,” Mr. Hutton said. “At the same time, on education calls, they tend to defer to school boards. And if you have the immovable object and the unstoppable force, in most cases, public safety wins.”
A distance-learning company that has thrived during the pandemic is being criticized for content seen as sexist or racist.
The pandemic has created an enormous market for online learning, but some people have criticized the companies that have helped fill the void.
Parents in several states are protesting the use of Acellus Academy, an online learning company that has received a flood of business since the outbreak began.
Acellus, based in Kansas City, Mo., provides thousands of video lessons for students of all ages in 4,000 schools across the country. It says it has quintupled its servers to keep up with demand from schools unable to provide in-person instruction.
But in Hawaii, Ohio, Michigan and elsewhere, parents have complained that some of the company’s lessons are racist or sexist.
In one lesson, students are asked whether Osama bin Laden led the Islamic Jihad Union, Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood or “Towelban.” In another, they are shown two images — one of a woman holding a small bag over her shoulder and one of a robber in disguise with a large sack over his shoulder — and asked which best depicts Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery.