Plaintiffs in Connecticut’s long-standing education adequacy case obtained a major victory last week when a trial court judge rejected the State’s attempt to dismiss the case on ripeness and mootness grounds. In a thorough 34-page opinion, Judge Kevin Dubay ruled that the constitutionality of the State’s education system must be determined at trial. Nine years after the case was initially filed, the opinion enables Connecticut students to “get their day in court,” said Dianne deVries, project director of CCJEF. This decision follows the 2010 ruling in which the state Supreme Court found that Connecticut’s Constitution guarantees public school students an adequate education. Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Gov. M. Jodi Rell
Judge Dubay’s opinion rejected the Defendants’ legal argument that the court should dismiss the Plaintiff’s case because of education reform legislation enacted last year. The Defendants argued both that it is too early to evaluate the state’s educational reforms and that the recent reforms fundamentally altered the education system, thus ameliorating all constitutional deficiencies in the Plaintiffs’ complaint. Judge Dubay found instead that the effect of the 2012 legislation on the constitutionality of Connecticut’s education system was an issue of fact that would need to be determined by the evidence at trial. In doing so, he relied on the New York Court of Appeals’ decision in Hussein v. State of New York that rejected similar ripeness and mootness arguments.
In his opinion, Judge Dubay also rejected the State’s attempt to deny CCJEF organizational standing in the case. He ruled that CCJEF met all of Connecticut’s legal requirements for the right to bring this lawsuit, and he recognized that CCJEF’s membership includes parents of Connecticut schoolchildren who have a clear interest in the adequacy and equity of the state’s system of education. CCJEF together with individual parents and students in Connecticut will therefore remain Plaintiffs in the case.