Connecticut officials seek dismissal of school choice suit

Source: Dave Collins, The Associated Press, November 21, 2016

Connecticut officials on Monday asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the state’s restrictions on magnet schools, charter schools and school choice programs. The state attorney general’s office filed a motion in federal court in Hartford saying the lawsuit is not allowed under a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that bars federal courts from interfering with states’ sovereign right to determine public education policy. A group of parents sued state officials in August, aided by the nonprofit group Student Matters, of Menlo Park, California. They argue the restrictions are unconstitutional and have forced thousands of low-income and minority students to attend low-performing schools. The lawsuit challenges state laws that place a moratorium on new magnet schools, prevent public charter schools from opening or expanding, and penalize school districts that accept inner-city students under a state inter-district school choice program. … The state Education Department has said that Connecticut has high-quality public education. The agency said more state resources are going to schools that need help the most, and improvements to the education system continue to be made. A lawyer for the plaintiffs did not immediately return messages seeking comment Monday. The plaintiffs include a Hartford mother, a Bridgeport mother, a Bridgeport father and their children, and a Bridgeport woman and her granddaughter. They’re suing Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other state officials. They say they have tried to enroll their children in magnet schools, charter schools or other school alternatives, but their applications have been rejected and they must send their children to public schools they say are failing. …