Two weeks before the Vergara decision was issued, a case that challenges from a different angle state policies regarding the quality of education for low income students was filed in the Superior Court, Alameda County. In Cruz v. State of California, poor students of color from seven public schools claim that they are being denied an equal educational opportunity because they receive far less meaningful learning time than their peers who attend school in more affluent areas. The case was brought by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and a group of co-operating attorneys.
Plaintiffs allege that several interrelated factors divert substantial classroom time away from instruction, including:
- Assignment of students to administrative tasks or free periods instead of assignment to classroom periods of instruction because of insufficient curricular offerings and a lack of available qualified teachers;
- Violence or security disruptions, which result in cessation of instruction, and insufficient access to mental health professionals to assist students and faculty in coping with these disruptions;
- Late changes to the master course schedule requiring course and teacher changes well into the semester
- Unstable, transient teaching faculties and administrative teams, resulting from from under-resourced and stressful campuses not conducive to professional development and growth;
- Unaddressed student absenteeism, resulting in whole or in part from campus conditions.
Plaintiffs allege that the state’s failure to prohibit these activities and to monitor the mount of instructional time that is being provided to students in their schools denies them equal protection under both the state and federal constitutions and constitutes racial discrimination under California law. They seek declaratory relief and an injunction requiring the state to monitor the amount of meaningful instructional time being provided in these schools and to intervene in a timely manner when the amount of instructional time in a school falls below the state standard for meaningful instructional time.
June 17, 2014