MINNESOTA SETTLEMENT BREAKS DOWN; CASE RETURNS TO COURT
In a 2018 decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court had held that “It is self-evident that a segregated system of public schools” does not provide an adequate education. In order to avoid a lengthy and expensive trial, in the spring of 2021, the parties agreed to settle the case. The terms of the settlement were set forth in a bill that was introduced in the Minnesota legislature. The bill would create a metro-wide student busing program, establish four new magnet schools and order racially isolated charter and district schools to integrate. The settlement, which was estimated to about $63 million per year, was dependent on the legislature’s enactment of the bill.
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The parties agreed that if the legislature failed to enact the bill during its next session, the case would return to court. The legislature failed to take any action and, accordingly, in September, the plaintiffs returned to the Court, filing a motion for summary judgment. The plaintiffs’ motion states that there is no need for a trial in this case and the Court should proceed to consider a remedy for the unconstitutional patterns of segregation in Minneapolis and St. Paul because:
Little more need be said other than the Minneapolis and St. Paul School Districts are segregated by race and socio-economic status (“SES”). The Defendants, and in particular the Minnesota House and Senate, have violated the Education Clause by maintaining and permitting segregated systems of public schools. It is self-evident that such systems are neither general, uniform, thorough, nor efficient as the Education Clause requires. The Legislature’s toleration of their very existence violates the Education Clause.
Because the existence of segregated school systems is undisputed, Plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law that Defendants, and in particular the Minnesota House and Senate, have violated the Education Clause.
If the plaintiffs’ motion is denied, the case may go to trial next year. In the meantime, the legislature may have another opportunity to approve the settlement in the upcoming legislative session.