Detroit education cases may reverberate across U.S.
One case, filed by a California special interest law firm, received substantial media attention when lawyers claimed their lawsuit on behalf of Detroit school children was an unprecedented attempt to establish literacy as a U.S. constitutional right.
Yet seven months earlier, the American Federation of Teachers put a similar question before a different federal judge when it sued Detroit Public Schools over its poor building conditions.
U.S. District Court judges David Lawson and Stephen J. Murphy III each have a separate — but similar — case on what has become a controversial education issue.
Because the Detroit cases are filed in federal court, they could reach the U.S. Supreme Court, from which any ruling would force nationwide changes to education.
In the case before Lawson, the AFT alleges DPS building conditions are so dangerous they will cause harm to students and their educational opportunities. Attorneys are asking Lawson to find that children in Detroit have a “right to minimally adequate education.”
While the case focuses on the deplorable conditions found inside schools, the central question of the case — as in the literacy case — is whether education is a fundamental right.
In the case before Murphy, the students allege that broad conditions — lack of books, classrooms without teachers, insufficient desks, buildings plagued by vermin, unsafe facilities and extreme temperatures — have an adverse impact on