AFT Michigan’s Hecker and AFT’s Weingarten on Flint Lead Settlement
DETROIT—AFT Michigan President David Hecker and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued dual statements today after attorneys for Flint schoolchildren reached a historic agreement to establish a program to provide universal screening and, when necessary, in-depth assessments to all Flint children affected by the city’s water crisis. The agreement was filed in D.R. v. Michigan Department of Education, a class-action lawsuit asserting violations of federal and state special education laws.
AFT Michigan’s Hecker said: “Flint families have endured a rolling nightmare because of politicians and administrators who would prefer to strip underprivileged communities of resources than to invest in them. Tens of thousands of kids have suffered permanent harm because of their illegal actions. Today, the children of Flint have won a measure of justice through an unprecedented settlement that mandates the services and support that both the law and basic decency demand.”
The AFT’s Weingarten said: “The children of Flint, who have suffered an entirely man-made crisis, today have won some relief in the courts to help alleviate the health issues they face. At the core of this case is the legal standard that children with disabilities—such as those with lead poisoning—must receive the same education and support guaranteed to others. If they don’t, a just remedy must be found and enforced.
“Flint kids will now get the services they need to help them recover and thrive. But our fight is far from over. We owe these children recompense for the health problems they may suffer for decades to come—entirely predictable and foreseeable injuries that arose after the governor and the emergency manager decided to expose them to contaminated water and lead pipes. We must never let politicians create emergency control that strips away local democratic checks and balances and allows them to put ideology over the health and safety of children and communities, which enables foreseeable disasters like poisoned water.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.