Late last month, the Schenectady City School District and the Middletown City School District each filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Litigation claiming that New York State’s current education funding system discriminates again African American and Latino Students. The complaints, brought under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the federal Equal Educational Opportunity Act, allege that the substantial cuts in education funding that the state has imposed since the 2008 recession have a disparate impact on school districts such as theirs which have large numbers of minority students and English Language learners. The districts allege that the neediest school districts are receiving a much smaller percentage of the Foundation Aid they were promised in 2007 than affluent districts. Out of almost 700 school districts in New York, 138 districts are receiving 100 percent or more of the Foundation Aid they were promised, while 155 districts, including the complainants, are receiving less than 70 percent of the Foundation Aid they were promised.
According to the complaints, the funding disparity has resulted in larger class sizes and higher student-to teacher ratios; cuts in and elimination of programs and electives and advanced placement courses; shortages of textbooks and resources; shortages of technology; insufficient physical education and extracurricular activities; insufficient library resources; and insufficient facilities. The claims are being filed with the federal agency because under the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U.S. 275 (2001), individual plaintiffs cannot bring Title VI discriminatory impact claims before the courts, but federal agencies are not precluded from enforcing such claims.
December 10, 2013