WNPR

Connecticut to Appeal Landmark Ruling That Criticized Public Education

Sep 15, 2016

State officials announced on Thursday that they will appeal a recent decision by a Hartford court that ordered the state to revamp much of its education policies and procedures. 

Attorney General George Jepsen said the decision "would wrest educational policy from the representative branches of state government, limit public education for some students with special needs, create additional municipal mandates concerning graduation and other standards, and alter the basic terms of educators' employment – and entrust all of those matters to the discretion of a single, unelected judge. "

Judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled last week that Connecticut was "defaulting on its constitutional duty to provide adequate public school opportunities because it has no rational, substantial and verifiable plan to distribute money for education aid and school construction." 

The state has an Education Cost Sharing formula, or ECS, that was developed to distribute aid based on need. However, the state hasn't used the formula since 2009, according to the Office of Policy Management. Instead, according to Moukawsher, the state has used "arbitrary" methods to determine how much money each school district gets. 

Jepsen contends that Moukawsher's decision "exceeded [the court's] authority" and is asking the Connecticut Supreme Court to review the ruling. 

"Despite its order, the trial court correctly determined that the state far exceeds its minimum constitutional obligations for providing equitable access to adequate education," Jepsen stated in a press release. "Nevertheless, the ruling identified profound educational challenges that remain and must continue to receive serious and sustained attention – and action – at every level of government. Nothing about this appeal prevents policymakers from immediately addressing those challenges, and I urge them to do so without delay."

Read the state's petition to the Supreme Court here.

Governor Dannel Malloy issued a statement after Jepsen announced the decision to appeal, saying that "it does not negate the urgency to take action for students."

"It would be prudent to address the systemic problems in our educational system, particularly fair funding, in a serious manner once and for all in the 2017 legislative session," Malloy said in a release. As mayor of Stamford in 2005, Malloy was one of the original plaintiffs who sued the state over education funding.