OLR Research Report

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sue brief ECS 2

Main Findings of the Court

School District InterventionThe court found that the state's duty under the state constitution to provide free public education is non-delegable. “The state is responsible for Connecticut public schools, not local school districts,” the court wrote. The court ordered the state to submit a plan that redefines the relationship between the state and local governments, with particular attention to state action regarding troubled school districts.

Education AidThe court found beyond a reasonable doubt that Connecticut is failing in its “constitutional duty to provide adequate public education opportunities” because it has no rational plan to distribute money for education aid and school construction. The court said this does not mean it should set the amount of money the state should spend on education. But the court did order the state to draft a rational spending plan.

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Defining Elementary and Secondary Education
The court found that the state has broken its promise to provide free secondary education for the state's poorest students by making a high school degree meaningless, as it is not credibly tied to real educational achievement. As for elementary education, it found the state's failure to define it rationally violates the constitutional duty to provide a meaningful opportunity to get an elementary education. It ordered the state to propose meaningful definitions and standards for elementary and secondary education.

Teacher StandardsThe court found that the state has failed to meet its constitutional obligation to Connecticut public school students is in its educator evaluation and compensation systems. It held that “beyond a reasonable doubt. . . the state is using an irrational statewide system of evaluation and compensation for educational professionals . . .” The court ordered the state to submit replacement plans for both evaluation and compensation, along with proposed implementation schedules.

Special EducationThe court found the state to be engaged in two practices regarding special education that raise constitutional concerns. First, it found that the state is spending money on severely disabled students who may be incapable of receiving any form of education. Second, it found the state's system for identifying students for special education services to be mostly arbitrary and dependent upon the “irrational” criteria of where children live and the pressures placed on their respective school systems. The court ordered the state to submit new special education standards that rationally and verifiably link special education spending, identification, and services with elementary and secondary education.