CT's attorney general to appeal education funding ruling - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CT's attorney general to appeal education funding ruling

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(WFSB photo) (WFSB photo)

Following a ruling by the state Superior Court that said Connecticut's education funding system is unconstitutional, the state's attorney general said Connecticut will seek a direct appeal.

Attorney General George Jepsen said on Thursday that state education policy is determined by the Legislative and Executive Branches under our system of government.

"[It's] and implemented under a strong tradition of local control by municipal school boards and, ultimately, teachers," Jepsen said in a statement. "This 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."

Jepsen said there are strong arguments that the trial court exceeded its authority and the standards articulated by the state Supreme Court.

The ruling last week was the result of an 11-year-old lawsuit by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding.

The coalition argued in 2005 that the state's system resulted in more money for wealthy school districts.

A judge said Connecticut must overhaul the system and come up with a new funding formula within 180 days to ensure the state's poorest school districts have resources to provide an adequate education.

The judge essentially said the state was failing poor students by giving them unearned degrees.

"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 continued. "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."

Jepsen said nothing about the appeal prevents policymakers from immediately addressing those challenges. He said he urged them to do so without delay.

Gov. Dannel Malloy issued a statement about Jepsen's appeal announcement.

“We understand and accept the Attorney General’s legal rationale for pursuing this course of action," Malloy said. "The attorney general’s decision to appeal 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. Legislative action is always preferable to a judicial decision."

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