Citizen Group Challenges State Funding for Education

by Joseph C. Maya on Apr. 26, 2017

Other Education Other  Juvenile Law Government  State and Local 

Summary: Blog post about the issue of how public education should be funded in Connecticut.

If you have a question or concern about special education law, school administration, federal standards, or the overall rights of a student, please feel free to call the expert education law attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. in Westport today at (203) 221-3100 .

In the case of Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Educational Funding v. Rell, a citizens group of students and parents sued state officials and the board of education for a declaration that public school students had a right to suitable educational opportunity under Connecticut law. Under article VIII of the Connecticut Constitution, public schools are required to provide their students with a n education suitable to give them the opportunity to be responsible citizens able to participate fully in democratic institutions, such as jury service and voting, and to prepare them to progress to institutions of higher education, or to attain productive employment and otherwise to contribute to the State of Connecticut’s economy.

The citizens group alleged that due to the State's arbitrary and inadequate funding system and inadequate and unequal inputs, it failed to provide students suitable and substantially equal educational opportunities, including appropriate class sizes; highly qualified teachers; modern technology, libraries, and textbooks; and a rigorous curriculum. Finding no constitutional right to "suitable" educational opportunities, the trial court struck three counts of the complaint. The high court agreed with the trial court that the case was justiciable, or subject to legal judgment, and did not present a political question, as the judicial role was limited to deciding whether existing public educational systems satisfied an articulated constitutional standard. Connecticut entitles students to an education suitable to give them the opportunity to be responsible citizens. To satisfy this standard, the State, through the local school districts, had to provide students an objectively meaningful opportunity to receive the benefits of this constitutional right. Further proceedings were required to determine whether the State in fact provided plaintiff students with constitutionally suitable educational opportunities.

The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings according to law. “For many of our children, public education is, perhaps ironically, the principal means by which they can surmount the obstacles that must be overcome, in the first place, in order to benefit from the education” said the court. “While the state is not bound under the constitution to be a guarantor of educational, social or economic success in the long run, the state is bound to provide a public education that is well suited to enable all children to achieve that success.”

If you have a child with a disability and have questions about special education law, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq., at 203-221-3100, or at JMaya@mayalaw.com, to schedule a free consultation.

Source: Conn. Coalition for Justice in Educ. Funding, Inc. v. Rell, 295 Conn. 240, 990 A.2d 206, 2010 Conn. LEXIS 92 (Conn. 2010)

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