Parents file first of its kind personal injury lawsuit against UTLA, LAUSD over school closures

Parents in Los Angeles are suing the L.A. Unified School District and the teachers union (UTLA) for continued school closures during the pandemic, alleging that their children have suffered emotionally and academically.

The personal injury lawsuit is the first of its kind in the country according to Timothy Snowball, an attorney with the Freedom Foundation who is representing the parents pro bono in their lawsuit.

RELATED: Despite agreement between LAUSD and UTLA, families wonder if older students drew short straw

"The scientific consensus is clear, schools can be reopened," Snowball said. "Children like our clients in this lawsuit have been suffering needlessly because of the political demands of UTLA which have absolutely nothing not do with the health and safety of teachers or students."

Specifically, Snowball cites UTLA’s demands to defund the police, funding for the full housing of the homeless population, and elimination of all charter schools before allowing teachers to physically return to class.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are identified by their initials only, because they fear retaliation from UTLA, according to snowball.

RELATED: LAUSD, UTLA reach agreement to return to in-person learning

One mother identified as plaintiff "CP" in the lawsuit spoke to FOX 11. "This whole year has been horrible, the whole distance learning is so terrible," she said. "I’m a liberal democrat, I’m in a union, the moment I peacefully advocated for my child’s education, they called me a white supremacist."

She says her five-year-old son has severely regressed emotionally with only distance learning.

"He hasn’t met his teacher, he’s never stepped foot on campus, and all he knows is this Zoom," she said. "We did it, we went into it with a great attitude, and just every day he had meltdowns and tantrums and was not wanting to do it. He was a somewhat social child, and it was creating a regression where he wasn’t social."

Other families in the lawsuit allege even more serious damage to their kids.

"The children in this lawsuit were all outgoing kids, they were all socially active," Snowball said. "They’ve gone from socially active, well-adjusted kids to in many cases being isolated in their bedrooms, addicted to their computers. In one case, one of our client's children went from a theater arts program and an outgoing kid to now being suicidal and locked in his bedroom addicted to his computer.

LAUSD told FOX 11 they had no comment in response to the lawsuit.UTLA never responded to us.

"I don’t think they realize we feel abandoned by them," CP said. "Many of us that are involved in the reopening effort were the same parents that stood in the rain with them two years ago when they were on strike."

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