Court rejects attempt to thwart ACLU’s schools lawsuit

The Associated Press
Friday November 17, 2000

LOS ANGELES — A judge declined Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the state of providing its poorest public school students with an inferior education. 

Superior Court Judge Peter J. Busch of San Francisco ruled against state lawyers who sought to dismiss the action brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. 

The lawyers had claimed the class-action lawsuit was too vague and the state was not ultimately responsible for assuring equal educational opportunities for all children. 

The lawsuit claims many poor and minority students face rat-infested classrooms, substandard schools lacking textbooks or teachers with credentials. 

“This case is exclusively about the state’s system of oversight and that system’s alleged inadequacies and failures,” Busch said Wednesday. “The lawsuit is aimed at ensuring a system that will either prevent or discover and correct such deficiencies from going forward.” 

The ACLU sued in May in a case that grew to represent 64 students at nine urban districts throughout California. The lawsuit targets a 5.8 million-student school system for which the state provides most of the money, but locally elected school boards make most of the decisions. 

The lawsuit names the state of California, state school Superintendent Delaine Eastin, the state Department of Education and the state Board of Education. 

The ACLU is suing to have the state fix the schools and provide enough credentialed teachers at all schools. Attorneys also would like the state to set up an agency to monitor schools that are fixed to make sure they remain safe and clean. 

The next hearing in the case is set for Dec. 12 in San Francisco.