In a decision received today by the NYCLU, United States District Court Judge Lawrence M. McKenna rejected an effort by New York State to dismiss a case filed by the NYCLU alleging that the state is discriminating against students in high-minority schools in New York state by providing them with grossly inferior educational services compared to those provided to students in predominantly white schools. Judge McKenna also ordered that the NYCLU could proceed with the case on behalf of the nearly 80,000 minority students in high-minority schools outside New York City. As a result of this decision, the case will now proceed to trial.
In the lawsuit, the NYCLU alleges that state officials are violating federal civil rights law by failing to enforce a variety of mandates requiring that children receive essential educational services, including certified teachers, appropriate remedial services, appropriate school libraries and school facilities, and the opportunity to take and pass the examinations that soon will be necessary for any student to receive a high school diploma. In annual reports to Governor Pataki and the State Legislature over the last ten years, the State Education Department has revealed that students in high-minority schools have far fewer of these educational resources than do students in predominantly white schools. Not surprisingly, these same reports have reported that students in high-minority schools perform far worse on state tests, drop out at much higher rates, and are far less likely to receive Regent's diplomas.
NYCLU Executive Director Norman Siegel said, "We are pleased with the Court's decision. It gives us a green light to vigorously proceed with our historic civil rights lawsuit which seeks to change fundamentally the face of public education in New York State. Systemic education reform, throughout New York State, is overwhelmingly needed and long overdue."
NYCLU Staff Attorney Christopher Dunn said, "The racial discrimination that pervades public education in New York is a scandal that is destroying the futures of tens of thousands of African-American and Latino children in New York State. Judge McKenna's decision is an important step towards remedying this situation."
Read Judge McKenna's decision