Springfield family drops suit over bullying, ‘looping’

SPRINGFIELD, NJ — A family who sued the school board in federal court to have their 9-year-old daughter’s class assignment changed after they said she was bullied has withdrawn the suit and removed their children from the school system, school officials announced last month.
The development in the highly publicized case, which highlighted the practice of “looping” in which whole classes are kept together with the same teacher from one year to the next, was announced at the March 19 Springfield Board of Education meeting.

“The Springfield Board of Education and the Spektor family have resolved their legal dispute with respect to their daughter’s education,” board President Scott Silverstein said. “While the specific terms of the agreement will remain confidential, the parties are happy to share that the Spektors will be dismissing their lawsuit.”

The conflict began in late September 2017, when the Spektor family removed their daughter, Emma Spektor, from school and demanded she be placed into a different classroom at the Thelma L. Sandmeier Elementary School.

Standing by the district’s practice of looping, the school board offered to place the child into a class in the James Caldwell School, the district’s other elementary school.

Unwilling to accept the board’s proposal, Irina Spektor, Emma’s mother, filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 14, 2017, claiming the district purposefully would not reassign their daughter’s classroom in retaliation against the mother for “airing grievances about the district’s response to the press.”
Irina Spektor spoke openly to reporters, prompting other parents to attend board meetings and demand a written policy regarding the practice of looping, to no avail.

School board members chose instead to keep the issue an internal matter, leaving it in the hands of the district superintendent.
The Spektors and the school board were ordered into mediation by U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in November 2017 and again in February, but word of a resolution regarding the matter did not come until last week.

The Spektors withdrew their lawsuit and voluntarily removed their children from the district schools to enroll them elsewhere, Silverstein stated at the March 19 meeting.

“This action was never sought or required by the board, and was never a condition of settlement,” Silverstein read. “Pursuant to an agreement, if the Spektors return their daughter to public school before she enters middle school, she will be enrolled at James Caldwell School,” he added.
Noting that both parties are pleased to have the issue behind them, Silverstein added that the school board will not make any further public comment regarding this issue.

Attorney Kerri Wright, who defended the Springfield Board of Education, told LocalSource that “the parties are in the process of wrapping up the lawsuit, but the final paperwork has not been submitted to the court.” She declined to further comment on the matter.
Irina Spektor did not respond to a request for comment before press time this week.

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