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COURT PROTECTS EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS OF NJ’S POOR SCHOOLCHILDREN

Orders Remand on New Formula

Directs Continuation of Landmark Abbott Remedies

Newark, NJ – November 18, 2008

In a unanimous opinion, the New Jersey Supreme Court today stepped-in to protect the educational rights of the State’s most needy school children by ordering a remand in the landmark Abbott v. Burke case to fully vet the constitutionality of the Legislature’s new school funding formula, the School Funding Reform Act of 2008.

The Court also ordered the Abbott remedies -- under implementation since 1999 -- to remain in effect pending the completion of the remand process. This means the Court’s groundbreaking mandates for supplemental programs, school reform, and high quality preschool must continue, along with the right of the urban or Abbott districts to seek supplemental state funding to maintain those essential programs.

In taking this firm action, the Court recognized the Abbott remedies have been working, finding that these remedies have "enabled children in the Abbott districts to show measurable educational improvement." The Court also noted that Plaintiffs, through their counsel Education Law Center, "have worked long and hard to obtain a constitutionally sound, mandated educational program" for these children, "supported by a consistent level of state funding."

The Court appointed Superior Court Judge Peter E. Doyne to serve as Special Master, conduct the remand on an "expedited" basis, and imposed the burden of proof on the State.

Abbott v. Burke is widely recognized as establishing a national model for educational equity, and the rulings are considered the most significant in the advancement of equal educational opportunities since Brown v. Board of Education.

Click to read the Court’s decision.

Education Law Center Press Contact:
David G. Sciarra
Executive Director
email: dsciarra@edlawcenter.org
voice: 973 624-1815 x16