January 11, 2021

Milbank Pro Bono Team Secures Expedited Hearing in Litigation That Seeks to Equip Homeless Shelters With Reliable Internet Access for Remote Education


In November,  Milbank LLP, in partnership with The Legal Aid Society, filed a class action lawsuit and preliminary injunction motion on behalf of the Coalition for the Homeless and certain individual shelter residents against New York City seeking to ensure that school-aged children living in New York City’s shelters have sufficient internet access to receive a sound basic education during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Recently, after briefing and oral argument, Judge Alison J. Nathan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected the City’s attempt to derail the lawsuit and held that plaintiffs have stated a claim that the City’s failure to provide reliable internet access to homeless students violates New York State Education Law Section 3209, which requires the City to provide homeless students with “suitable clothing, shoes, books, food, transportation and other necessaries” to enable them to attend school. In her ruling, Judge Nathan credited plaintiffs’ argument that internet access during the pandemic is akin to transportation, recognizing that “[j]ust like getting to brick and mortar schools requires reliable transportation, access to virtual school during the pandemic requires access to reliable internet.” 

Judge Nathan granted plaintiffs’ request for expedited discovery and a hearing to take place in early 2021.

The Milbank pro bono team includes Litigation & Arbitration partner Grant Mainland and associates Alison Bonelli, Maria Ortiz, and Isabel Pitaro.