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NYCLU Sues New York State Over Racial Discrimination in Public Schools

The NYCLU today sued the state of New York and various state officials, including Governor George Pataki, alleging that they are administering the state’s educational system in a manner that discriminates against schools with high concentrations of minority students. This suit covers schools across the state of New York, but not the five boroughs of New York City.

The NYCLU lawsuit charges students in “high-minority” schools, where 80 percent of the student body is comprised of racial and ethnic minorities, are far less likely to receive essential educational services than students in predominantly white schools. The NYCLU defines these essential services as: properly qualified teachers, appropriate remedial services, adequate school buildings, grounds, and libraries, and the opportunity to earn a Regents diploma.

”This lawsuit will seek to fundamentally change the face of public education in New York State,” said NYCLU Executive Director Norman Siegel. ” This is an historic civil rights lawsuit. It will be followed by a second one, which will be based on a New York State constitutional provision guaranteeing an opportunity to a sound, basic education and will be filed in early 1999.

The NYCLU’s lawsuit, filed in the Unites States District Court for the Southern District of New York against Gov. Pataki, Chancellor of the Board of Regents Carl T. Hayden, and Education Commissioner Richard P. Mills, also alleges that the state’s school-finance system discriminates against districts with large concentrations of minority students. The NYCLU charges that this exacerbates the disproportionately poor education resources available to students in high-minority schools.

For example, in Suffolk County on Long Island, the defendants spent nearly 35 percent more on instructional expenses for each student in the county’s low minority districts than it spent on the county’s two high-minority districts.

The NYCLU’s lawsuit against Governor George Pataki, the chancellor of the board of regents and the state education commissioner is available on this site:

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