The following article by Libby Stanford appeared May 4, 2021 on postandcourier.com.
MONCKS CORNER — Berkeley County School District has allowed a woman’s two children to return to school in person after she filed a lawsuit claiming the district was forcing them to be stuck in virtual learning.
Brigette Herbst filed a complaint against the school district and Superintendent Eddie Ingram on May 4 through attorneys at the Liberty Justice Center. Daniel Suhr, one of the lawyers representing the Berkeley County mom, said the district informed Herbst just hours after the lawsuit was filed that her students would be able to start learning in person as soon as May 5.
“It’s a shame that Brigette had to go to lawyers and file a lawsuit for the district to do the right thing here, but we’re glad her kids are back in school,” Suhr said.
In the lawsuit, Herbst claimed the district was forcing her children to be stuck in virtual learning despite a law signed by Gov. Henry McMaster requiring all districts in the state offer in-person instruction five days a week.
The law mandates that districts offer full-time, in-person learning no later than April 26. On that same day, Herbst emailed her children’s school, College Park Middle School in Ladson, to ask if they could start learning in person, according to the complaint.
A school official responded that all open spots for in-person learning at the school were full and that Herbst’s children would not be able to start learning in the classroom.
As with many school districts in the state, Berkeley County established a new model of learning at the beginning of the school year. Families and students were given three options for instruction before the fall: traditional in-person learning, blended distance learning or virtual learning.
The latter two options offer completely remote learning for the students who chose blended distance learning, which is live-streamed face-to-face instruction, and virtual learning, which includes self-guided online classes.
School district officials declined to comment on the lawsuit as it is a pending legal matter.
Herbst moved to South Carolina midway through the year “to escape the onerous pandemic restrictions of their previous home state,” the complaint said.
When Herbst’s children enrolled in the school district, the family was told that all in-person slots were filled and her sixth and seventh grader would have to participate in virtual learning.
According to the complaint, the district has said that it met the requirements outlined in the law when it offered full-time, in-person learning to students at the beginning of the school year.
The complaint claims that the district has harmed both Herbst and her children by failing to offer in-person learning.
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