Last June, New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, denied the state’s motion to dismiss New Yorkers for Students Educational Rights (NYSER) v. State of New York and sent the case back for trial. NYSER was brought by parents from throughout New York State, along with a coalition of statewide education groups in 2014 to require the state to provide the level of funding to which the state committed itself following the Court of Appeals’ 2006 decision in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case and to honor its constitutional obligation to ensure on an on-going basis that every school has sufficient funding to provide all students a meaningful educational opportunity.
In its recent decision, the Court of Appeals held that plaintiffs could not assert claims on a general state-wide basis, but must prove that in particular districts students today are not receiving the opportunity for a sound basic education. The court found that plaintiffs had pleaded viable claims regarding the state’s failure to provide a meaningful opportunity for a sound basic education for students in New York City and Syracuse.
In order to maintain the state-wide focus in this case, plaintiffs have now filed an amended complaint that adds to its claims about New York City and Syracuse additional specific allegations that students in a small city (Schenectady), a high need suburban district (Central Islip) and a rural district (Gouverneur) are also not currently receiving the opportunity for a sound basic education as required by the state constitution. The amended complaint also updated and strengthened the allegations regarding resource deficiencies in New York City and Syracuse. The amended complaint further emphasizes that the State has failed to provide policies and resources to allow schools to prepare students properly to function productively as civic participants, the main purpose of a sound basic education, according to the Court of Appeals decision in the CFE litigation.