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Lawyers: Berkeley County School District allowing kids to attend in-person classes after mother files lawsuit

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 6:41 PM EDT
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BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Lawyers for a Lowcountry mother say the Berkeley County School District is now allowing their client’s kids to attend in-person classes after she had filed a lawsuit against the district who originally were not giving her kids that option.

Lawyers for Brigette Herbst said hours after they had filed the lawsuit the district contacted Herbst and said her children would be allowed to attend school in-person starting immediately at College Park Middle School.

The lawsuit was filed on May 3 and claimed that the district was breaking the law by not allowing Herbst’s kids to attend in-person classes, and cited Gov. Henry McMaster’s mandate that every district in the state must offer a 5-day, in-person classroom instruction to students no later than April 26.

Herbst said she had moved to South Carolina in the middle of the pandemic to escape pandemic restrictions at their previous home state. The lawsuit states she enrolled her two kids at BCSD in March of 2021 and was told that her children would have to be enrolled in virtual learning because the in-person learning slots for her kids’ grades were already full.

On Wednesday afternoon, Herbst’s lawyers said despite the district allowing her children to attend in-person classes the lawsuit was not over.

According to officials with the Liberty Justice Center, there are 124 other students in the district who have been denied in-person learning; the LJC said that information came through a Freedom of Information Act document requested from the district.

“We are hearing from some of those parents and will continue to fight on their behalf,” said Kristen Williamson with LJC.”The District must acknowledge that all students have a right to an in-person education.”

Herbst’s lawsuit also named BCSD Superintendent Eddie Ingram and is suing for violation of the governor’s orders and constitutional right to education. The suit is seeking damages for lost wages, childcare expenses, and for lost educational opportunities.

On April 26, Herbst said she emailed the district and asked them why her children were still regulated to remote learning, and received a response from an official stating that the status of their face-to-face classes has not changed and they are currently full.

According to the lawsuit, the district also said that, “College Park Middle School has offered a face to face option 5 days a week since September, which is what the state is requiring all schools to have.”

Lawyers contend that the district is interpreting the mandate to say that as long as a student somewhere in the district has the option to attend class in person 5-days a week than they are fulfilling the order.

The suit states the district’s interpretation is “far-fetched” and inconsistent with the details of the order.

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