RELEASE: Reaction to Small Cities Court Case Advancement to Trial
Court of Appeals Gives Public School Students A Green Light For
Their Day In Court
Small Cities School Case Moves On To Trial
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, June 26, 2012
For Info: Nikki Jones (518) 432-5315
Today, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled in a 6 to 1 decision in favor of 101 parents and students in 13 small cities by denying the State’s motion to dismiss a case calling on the State to provide every student with a ‘sound basic education’. Hussein v. The State of New York (also known as the Small Cities Schools case) is similar to the 2006 landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity case. CFE established a standard that all students have a constitutional right to a “sound, basic education.” After settling CFE on a statewide basis in 2007 and making a commitment to significantly increase school funding, the state has reversed virtually all the new investments through a series of school funding cuts. The attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the hearing before the court argued that the State’s motion for dismissal would unfairly deny these children their day in court. The case, originally commenced in October 2008, is now expected to be ready for trial in 2013.
“Today’s Court of Appeals ruling that the Small Cities lawsuit on fair school funding should go to trial is critically important for students throughout the state. The Court has reaffirmed the precedent set under the Campaign for Fiscal Equity that the state must fulfill its responsibilities to provide the classroom resources every student needs for success,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education. “In just three months, far too many children will return to school and be forced to do more with less – less college and career readiness programs and fewer teachers. In order to shift New York State into educational progress, the education crisis looming over our public school children must be addressed by the Governor and the Legislature.”
“New York’s small city schools have endured deep cuts in state aid, depriving their school children the opportunity for a sound basic education. The Court of Appeals ruling today sends a strong message by ensuring that the courthouse doors remain open. The children can now move forward with their claim that the state is failing to meet its constitutional obligations,” said David Sciarra of the Education Law Center.
Education Law Center (ELC) has undertaken CFE’s core mission of advancing the legal rights of New York’s public school children to sound basic and quality education under state and federal law.
“Hussein is the first education finance case since the historic New York City CFE litigation to survive the State’s motion to dismiss at the Court of Appeals level. The continued viability of the Hussein case is essential to the preservation of all students’ constitutional right to the opportunity of an adequate education. The Court’s decision is a vindication of the Hussein plaintiffs’ efforts to get their claims of insufficient education funding and the resulting deprivation of a quality education heard by a trial court,” said Robert Biggerstaff, Executive Director, NYS Association of Small City School Districts.
“I applaud the Court and believe that this decision sends a clear message. The state legislature must play a much more active role in addressing school district funding inequities. It is our job to enact appropriate and equitable policy. I put forth a bill in the last legislative session that goes a long way toward making school aid more equitable for small city schools and high needs schools in general. I will reintroduce it next year. Providing equity in school aid funding will ensure young people in schools across New York State are provided with the resources they need to meet even the most basic educational milestones. Those resources are lacking in many areas of this state. That must be changed,” said Assemblywoman Addie Russell (D-.Theresa).
“I commend the Court of Appeals for allowing this case to move forward,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell). “This is exactly what needs to happen to draw public awareness to the inequitable funding formula for small city schools.”