Second California Lawsuit

Last Updated: July 23, 2010

This article appeared in the July 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

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As reported in June RSFN, a second school funding has been filed in California. Plaintiffs in the latest suit, Coalition for Quality Education v. California, are public interest and community organizations representing underserved communities in the state. The lawsuit also includes individual student and parent plaintiffs, along with taxpayer representatives.

The action asks for a ruling that says that the state has a duty under the California Constitution to ensure sufficient funding for schools and that the state has failed in this duty. The suit asks for a new funding system that provides every child a “reasonable opportunity to obtain a meaningful education that prepares them for civic, social, and economic success in the 21st century.”

The lawsuit also asks for expanded preschool opportunities and a data tracking system in addition to funding reform. Only 12% of California 4-year-olds are enrolled in the State Preschool Program for low-income children

The suit cites the large numbers of California students who fail the exit exam and the high drop out rate (nearly 1/3 of students do not graduate from high school in four years) as evidence of the state’s failures. The suit also notes the large numbers of students who are learning English as a Second Language and/or are living in poverty as evidence of the need for a new funding system that addresses the needs of these students.

The suit was filed in Alameda County, as was a separate school finance suit brought in May by nine school districts and the California PTA and School Board Association. Partner Rohit Singla, of Munger, Tolles & Olson, one of the law firms representing the Coalition pro bono, stated, “Our clients filed their own suit because it allows grassroots community members and their constituents — primarily low-income parents and students — an independent voice so that they will have a direct say in their and their children’s future.”

Read more:

Local news coverage:

Coalition for Quality Education website:

Video with students and parents of California explaining why they are suing the state:

Read more from the July 2010 Rural Policy Matters.