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June 27, 2012

On June 26, 2012, in Hussein v. State of New York, the Court of Appeals affirmed lower court decisions that denied the state's motion to dismiss. In its 6-1 decision, the court rejected the state's two arguments by holding that "Plaintiffs' claims are neither moot nor unripe for review," and enabled this educational opportunity and school funding case to proceed to trial.

Hussein is brought by 101 parents and their children and 13 Small City School Districts across the state.

"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 (ELC).

"The continued viability of the Hussein case is essential to the preservation of all New York students' constitutional right to the opportunity for a sound education," said Robert Biggerstaff, Executive Director, NYS Association of Small City School Districts. "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."

Hussein follows the precedent set in the historic New York City CFE litigation, 1993-2006, which led to the constitutional standard of a "meaningful high school education" and the Foundation Aid remedial statute enacted in 2007. Recently, 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.

After two years of a multi-year remedial phase in, the governor and legislature have slashed funding for schools, causing school districts to cut programs and staff. According to New York school board members, superintendents, and administrators, many districts will soon face insolvency, unless the state's funding system is repaired---and funded. Parent advocates, community members, and organizations like statewide AQE, Alliance for Quality Education, are urging the state to invest in its public schools to benefit the state's children.

New York's funding system is highly inequitable, scoring a "D" in the Fair School Funding national report card.

In the last two years, plaintiffs have challenged school funding cuts in several states, including New Jersey, North Carolina, Kansas, New York, and Montana. The Kansas trial began June 4. Plaintiffs in MT, NC and NJ obtained favorable court orders, and the states of NJ and MT agreed to replace constitutionally required funding that had been cut. The NC ruling is before the state supreme court on appeal.

Education Justice Press Contact:
Molly A. Hunter, Esq.
Director, Education Justice
email: mhunter@edlawcenter.org
voice: 973 624-1815 x19

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