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New Agreement In School Desegregation Case

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A new settlement has just been reached in Connecticut’s landmark Sheff vs. O’Neill school desegregation case.

The two sides spent this afternoon in Hartford Superior Court negotiating educational opportunities for city school children.

This all started back in 1989 when the mother of Milo Sheff – a fourth grader attending Hartford public schools – filed a lawsuit against the state.

Elizabeth Horton-Sheff and 16 other families claimed poor minority students were isolated and at a disadvantage compared to kids at suburban schools. They argued that violated the state constitution’s right to an equal education for all.

The case went to the state Supreme Court which ruled 4-3 in favor of the plaintiffs, saying school districts being limited by town lines was a factor in segregation.

Over the past decade, regional magnet schools and school-choice programs have attempted to narrow the academic divide. And this afternoon there is a new agreement in the Sheff case that includes some familiar and new conditions.

The potential new agreement is an extension of a revised five-year plan that was instituted back in 2007. It would include new pushes and requirements for desegregation numbers, more magnet schools and a one-year extension of the current five-year plan designed to accomplish those goals.

The plaintiffs in this case argued the state didn’t meet the goals laid out in the original plan –  and this meeting with the judge is expected to bring about an update to some of those requirements.

“Today means that they have more opportunity, more access to opportunity and I would encourage families to continue to apply for opportunities in quality integrated educational settings because their children will benefit from this in the long run,” Horton-Sheff said outside of court Tuesday.

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