Similar Lawsuits Expected in Other States
On September 15, 2014, the Northeast Charter Schools Network (NECSN) and charter parents filed a lawsuit against the State of New York, seeking more taxpayer support for charter schools, specifically for facilities.
The lawsuit, Brown v. New York, which was filed in Buffalo, claims the funding system used by the State to allocate money to charter schools violates the state constitution. The plaintiffs argue that the state funding formula denies children enrolled in charter schools access to a "sound basic education," as required by the New York State Constitution. Additionally, they allege that the funding scheme has a disproportionate and discriminatory impact on minority students.
The parent plaintiffs are from Buffalo and Rochester and are represented by Herrick, Feinstein LLP, Park Avenue, New York, NY.
As reported in the Rochester City Newspaper, the Alliance for Quality Education, a statewide group that advocates for high quality public education for all New York students, issued a statement calling the suit a "deceptive PR stunt." "Despite the fact that public schools are severely underfunded, Wall Street-backed charter school groups continue to use aggressive propaganda to win more public school dollars," the statement asserts.
The plaintiffs ask the court to issue an injunction and a declaratory judgment that the State's funding scheme violates the Equal Protection and Education Clauses of the New York Constitution and discriminates on the basis of race.
As reported in the Hartford Courant, one of the co-founders of NECSN, Michael Sharpe, falsified his academic credentials, resigned from leadership of a charter school organization, and was convicted of embezzling public funds years earlier.
In North Carolina and Washington, DC, charter school organizations filed cases seeking additional public funding. And, Connecticut, because NECSN is active there, could anticipate a similar suit. It bears watching to see if charter organizations take similar actions in other states.