A lawsuit claiming the state is shirking its responsibility to educate poor and minority students was thrown out after a Monday ruling from the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
An opinion written by Judge Michelle Ann Larkin said the parents’ claims about education quality can’t be settled by court action.
“While we share the desire of respondents, and indeed of all Minnesotans, for an excellent system of public education, the establishment of qualitative standards necessary to achieve that laudable goal is entrusted to the elected representatives in our legislature and local branches of government,” Larkin wrote.
The suit was brought in November 2015 by a group of Minneapolis and St. Paul school district parents who said that the state was conscious of race and poverty segregation trends and did not provide students an adequate education. It asked for a metrowide integration plan and other fixes to aid segregated schools.
The ruling reversed a July decision from Hennepin County District Judge Susan M. Robiner, who ruled that the group of parents had enough legal footing and denied a request by the state and a group of charter schools and parents to dismiss.
Monday’s dismissal was a victory for the Minnesota Department of Education.
“As we have said from the beginning, we are committed to helping every student achieve academic success,” Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said in a statement. “While we have made significant progress in reducing educational disparities under the leadership of Governor Dayton, we know there is still significant work to be done.”
The families plan to appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court, said Daniel Shulman of Gray Plant Mooty, the lead attorney on the lawsuit.
After almost a year and a half of courtroom tug-of-war, Shulman said he hopes the process won’t last much longer.
“It’s a shame that these tens of thousands of schoolchildren are now going to have more delay while we seek Supreme Court review of this and lose valuable time when they’re not getting educated,” Shulman said. “This affects their prospects for the rest of their lives.”
Beena Raghavendran • 612-673-4569