In the State

Connecticut Attorney General’s Office Files Motion To Dismiss School Choice Suit

There hasn’t been much news coming out of the Martinez v. Malloy suit – until now.

The suit, filed by Bridgeport and Hartford parents in August, challenges the Connecticut’s restrictive school choice laws, which the plaintiffs say “knowingly and actively prevent students from accessing even the minimally acceptable public school options.”

The aim of the Martinez lawyers is to establish education as a right under the U.S. Consitution.

On Monday, the state attorney general’s office filed a motion to dismiss the case, writing in their response to the lawsuit: “There is no fundamental right to education, whether minimal or otherwise, under the United State Constitution.”

Dave Collins with the Associated Press writes:

“HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut officials on Monday asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the state’s restrictions on magnet schools, charter schools and school choice programs.

The state attorney general’s office filed a motion in federal court in Hartford saying the lawsuit is not allowed under a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that bars federal courts from interfering with states’ sovereign right to determine public education policy.

A group of parents sued state officials in August, aided by the nonprofit group Student Matters, of Menlo Park, California. They argue the restrictions are unconstitutional and have forced thousands of low-income and minority students to attend low-performing schools.

The lawsuit challenges state laws that place a moratorium on new magnet schools, prevent public charter schools from opening or expanding, and penalize school districts that accept inner-city students under a state inter-district school choice program.

Assistant Attorneys General Michael Skold and Darren Cunningham cite the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which came in a lawsuit that challenged the way Texas funded public education. They say the court made clear that federal courts cannot interfere with local decisions on public education, which is a sovereign function of states.

“To do so would … improperly insert the federal judiciary into complex problems that federal courts are ill-equipped to resolve,” Skold and Cunningham wrote in the motion.

The state Education Department has said that Connecticut has high-quality public education. The agency said more state resources are going to schools that need help the most, and improvements to the education system continue to be made.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs did not immediately return messages seeking comment Monday.

The plaintiffs include a Hartford mother, a Bridgeport mother, a Bridgeport father and their children, and a Bridgeport woman and her granddaughter. They’re suing Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other state officials.

They say they have tried to enroll their children in magnet schools, charter schools or other school alternatives, but their applications have been rejected and they must send their children to public schools they say are failing.

State test scores continue to show that black and Hispanic students, many of them in inner cities, score much lower than white students.”

Full article can be read here:

For more on Martinez v. Malloy here is a link to past coverage of the lawsuit:

Bridgeport and Hartford Parents Make History! File Groundbreaking Lawsuit Against State of Connecticut

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