Monday, June 12, 2017

Case Challenging Segregation as Violation of State Constitutional Right to Education Gains Support of National Scholars and Advocates - Education Law Prof Blog

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Case Challenging Segregation as Violation of State Constitutional Right to Education Gains Support of National Scholars and Advocates

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For two decades, advocates and scholars have been calling for an expansion of school quality and  finance precedent to incorporate claims challenging school segregation.  The Connecticut Supreme Court issued the most significant victory in Sheff v. O'Neill in 1996, holding that de facto segregation violated the state's education clause.  Plaintiffs in Minnesota are hoping their new case, Guzman v. State, will follow suit. 
The plaintiffs survived a motion to dismiss in the trial court.  After a quick stop at the court of appeals, the case is now before the Minnesota Supreme Court.  The primary issue before the court is whether de facto racial and/or socioeconomic school segregation violates the Education Clause of the Minnesota Constitution.  The state argues the issue is non-justiciable.
Last week, the Education Law Center and over twenty of the nation’s leading education and constitutional law scholars filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs.  The brief argues that the state constitution’s mandate for the legislature to maintain a “general and uniform system of education” makes plaintiffs’ segregation claims justiciable.  They cite to Minnesota precedent, as well as a host of other cases from peer states, regarding the general responsibility of courts to adjudicate school equity and quality challenges.  The brief emphasizes that:
a claim that an education system is segregated by race is justiciable because, as state supreme courts have long and properly recognized, education clauses in a state constitution not only prohibit intentional segregation that is unlawful under Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), but also protect students against the negative effects of segregation when they are unintentional. Segregated schools are unequal schools and therefore do not provide a “general and uniform,” “thorough and efficient” system of education, as required by the Minnesota State Constitution.
[I]n Skeen, th[e Minnesota Supreme] Court acknowledged that the guarantee in the Education Clause of a Education Law Prof Blog:

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