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State wins school funding case

January 17, 2018

HARTFORD — The state Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed a lower court ruling that the state’s distribution of state education aid violates the constitution.

“It is not the function of the courts to eliminate all the societal deficiencies that continue to frustrate the state’s educational efforts,” the court determined in a 53-page decision.

The battle pitted a coalition including a dozen school districts and municipalities, including Bridgeport and Danbury, that claimed insufficient funding and a haphazard distribution was denying school children their constitutional rights to an adequate educational opportunity.

“Although the plaintiffs have convincingly demonstrated that in this state there is a gap in educational achievement between the poorest and neediest students and their more fortunate peers, disparities in educational achievement, standing alone, do not constitute proof that our state constitution’s equal protection provisions have been violated,” read the decision. “The plaintiffs have not shown that this gap is the result of the state’s unlawful discrimination against poor and needy students in its provision of educational resources as opposed to the complex web of disadvantaging societal conditions over which the schools have no control.”

In fact, it was pointed out that the trial court found the state does provide significantly more resources to poor districts.

Lawyers for the Connecticut Coalilition for Justice in Education funding said Wednesday they were reading the decision and would have a statement shortly.