Massachusetts Case to Decide if Wi-Fi Signal Disrupts the Classroom Learning Environment

A Massachusetts school faces charges of impeding a student’s ability to learn because its WI-FI signal is so strong as to be distracting, states a federal court complaint.

mass-wifi-caseThe Supreme Court has affirmed a right to educational access in Brown vs, Board of Education (1954). Students with disabilities also have rights grounded in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Well, these issues, and others, are coming into play in a Massachusetts case involving high technology. A student at the Fay School in Southboro complains that the signal emissions from the institution’s Wi-Fi system cause severe irritation. As such, he and his parents have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the school is in violation of the ADA. The federal court plans to hear preliminary motions on September 4, five days prior to the start of classes.

At the heart of the matter is whether Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS), in which a person feels aggravated by electromagnetic radiation, is a real medical condition, deserving of ADA protection. The school apparently sent the 12-year old boy to its recommend doctor, who summarily dismissed the claim. Meanwhile, the parents have had the boy diagnosed with EHS, by another physician, saying he suffers from headaches and nausea when near high-frequency electromagnetic emissions.

The lawsuit seeks these things:

  • an injunction requiring either use of Ethernet cable Internet or reduction of the Wi-Fi signal.
  • $250,000 in damages.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes EHS. Others find its presence less than compelling. The boy’s parents believe the schools should err, if needed, on the side of helping students learn. Their son, they say, is in a 9-year plan to attend Fay and wants to remain. The Wi-Fi emissions are adversely affecting his learning; yet, the boy wants to stay at the school, as is his right, states the family.

It is very unclear just how the federal judge will rule. Also, one has to wonder if he will be able to make an appropriate decision in time to get the boy situated in school for the first day of classes.

School administrators and the family remain at loggerheads. Educators believe the Wi-Fi signal is well within federal standards. The boy’s parents, in contrast, believe the emissions above those in the average household.