On June 12, 2019, Cohen Milstein, the ACLU of Maryland, and Howard University School of Law Civil Rights Clinic (Howard Law), on behalf of students in Prince George’s County Public Schools, filed a first-ever access-to-education discrimination class action and motion for a temporary restraining order against the Prince George’s County Board of Education to stop it from charging of fees for students to attend summer school.
On April 27, 2020, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Plaintiffs filed a supplemental brief in response to Defendant's motion to dismiss, to enjoin Defendants from charging Prince George County students to attend summer school both because it violates their state constitutional right to a free public education and because the COVID-19 pandemic will likely force more students, largely from families with low income and African-American and Latino children, to attend summer classes than ever before.
Prince George’s County, Maryland has a long and unfortunate history of denial of educational opportunity, particularly to students who are poor or African American. This history has unfolded against the backdrop of Article VIII of the Maryland Constitution, which requires that all students be provided a thorough, free, and efficient education.
Despite this unequivocal mandate, Prince George’s County continues to charge even its poorest students, i.e., those eligible for free and reduced meals, $125 for a single credit of summer school. In doing so, the County has violated the explicit terms of the Maryland Constitution by denying indigent students the opportunity to attend summer school classes if they cannot afford them.
The denial of the opportunity to enroll in such courses unless they pay, constitutes an unequivocal violation of Article VIII’s requirement that education in Maryland be “[f]ree.”
Plaintiffs are middle and high school students in Prince George’s County Public Schools who were unable to successfully complete their coursework during the 2018-2019 school year. Because many of them cannot afford to pay the per credit fee Price George’s County Public Schools imposes, they will be forced to repeat the entire grade in which they are enrolled, thereby preventing them from graduating with their peers.
This matter is being handled pro bono by Cohen Milstein.
The case name is: Nalda Rozon v. Prince George’s County Board of Education, Case No. CAL19-1930, Circ. Crt., Prince George’s Cnty.