New Agreement Reached In The Sheff v. O'Neill Saga

May 1, 2013

The Connecticut Department of Education has reached a new agreement with the plaintiffs in the decades long Sheff v. O'Neill case.

The lawsuit is meant to ease the racial disparity between students in Hartford Public Schools and neighboring school districts.

The latest settlement extends for a year the Phase II agreement hammered out in 2008. Phase II aims to find seats for 80 percent of Hartford's minority students who are actively seeking a more integrated school. That includes four new magnet schools, more available seats in existing magnet schools, and through an expanded Open Choice program. 

Open Choice gives Hartford Students the chance to transfer to a more racially diverse school outside of Hartford. Dennis Parker is an attorney who represents the Sheff v. O'Neill plaintiffs says yesterday's agreement gives school districts more incentive to participate in Open Choice.

"Part of the agreement is that the commissioner will make extra efforts to reach out to the school districts, to provide more seats than they are currently providing. The agreement also provides financial incentives for the suburban school districts to participate," said Parker. "They're eligible for capital funding to permit them to make changes in the libraries, or however they want to use it that will benefit all of the students."

Tuesday's agreement between the state and the plaintiffs still needs legislative approval before it is implemented.