Judge Hands Significant Victories to Civil Rights Groups Battling California's Educational Failures

April 11, 2001 12:00 am

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SAN FRANCISCO – A California State Superior Court today handed a substantial victory to the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups that are fighting to reform California’s failed and inequitable school system in the statewide education lawsuit, Williams v. State of California, filed last May.

In an early response to the lawsuit, the state countered with a cross-complaint blaming individual school districts rather than acknowledging any responsibility for its own system. In today’s ruling, the Court severed that complaint from the Williams case and put off any proceedings on the counterclaim until the ACLU case is decided.

“The State tried to pass the buck to school districts,” said Catherine Lhamon, staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California, “but the court put the buck right back where it belongs – in the lap of the state.”

Michael Jacobs, a partner at Morrison & Foerster and pro bono co-counsel in the case, added that the judge’s order “”will allow school children to get the real relief they need as quickly as possible without needless finger-pointing against school districts that cannot themselves do what the state should have done in the first instance.”

The Court today also denied the State’s motion for a pre-trial decision on a group of students from Cloverdale, whose classrooms routinely reach unbearably high temperatures.

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