Giving Compass' Take:

• According to Shawna De La Rosa Flint, Michigan owes increased support to its special education programs due to lead-contaminated water.

• What have we learned from the tragic incident in Flint, Michigan? How can you help ensure nothing like it happens again? Why should other communities strengthen their special education programs, regardless of water contamination?

• Read more about the crisis in Flint, Michigan and how it impacts the prison system.

A class action lawsuit settlement includes at least $9 million in funding for Flint, Michigan-area students with disabilities and for other students and districts impacted by lead that was found in drinking water for up to 18 months, according to a joint press release by the plaintiffs' lawyers.

The money, provided by defendants Michigan Department of Education, the Genesee Intermediate School District and Flint Community Schools, will be used to:

  • Establish a special education fund to strengthen the services and supports for students with disabilities.
  • Provide $1 million in supplemental assistance for countywide special education transportation and more than $1 million to fund FCS' staff and services during the 2020-21 school year.
  • Assess Flint's preschools for universal high-quality, developmentally appropriate programs.
  • Review and update Genesee County's special education program.
  • Continue the work of the Neurodevelopmental Center of Excellence, established through $4 million for universal screening and in-depth neuropsychological assessments if needed to all children impacted by the water crisis.

​Filed by Michigan families in 2016, the plaintiffs claimed the state and districts failed to identify, evaluate and provide services for Flint's students with disabilities, and wrongly suspended and expelled those students. The lead crisis, it states, increased special education needs.

A September 2015 study found elevated levels of lead in the blood of 2.1% of children age 5 and under. It's estimated as many as 12,000 children were impacted.

According to the Center for Disease Control, lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Children under the age 6 are most at risk of health problems due to their rapid growth trajectory. Children living in older houses are also at risk of exposure. Elevated blood levels have been found in 3% of Black children compared to 1.3% of White children.

Read the full article about Flint, Michigan by Shawna De La Rosa at Education Dive.