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Williams Plaintiffs Release Experts' Reports

In mid-October 2002, the plaintiffs in Williams v. State of California made available sixteen reports on public-education issues related to their adequacy case. The class-action lawsuit, which was first filed in 2000 by several California organizations, seeks to force the state to fund certain basics of an adequate education, such as qualified teachers, safe facilities, and textbooks, in order to remedy the deplorable conditions in California's poorest schools. The reports, commissioned by the plaintiffs from experts at leading California universities, address the effects of these basics on students and learning.

The reports are the latest development in the Williams case, which is in discovery. Plaintiffs have conducted 38 depositions of state witnesses since April 2001, when the court agreed to sever and delay the state's counter claims against 18 districts. The court granted class status in October 2001. The governor came under fire for hiring a private firm after the attorney general agreed to defend the case cheaply, and for paying his lawyers more than $300 an hour to depose the children included in the class, sometimes very aggressively and for hours at a time.

In April 2002, a Harris poll of 1,071 California teachers found significant discrepancies between the state's wealthiest and poorest districts. Poor and minority students were four times as likely than the wealthiest white students to suffer high teacher turnover and twice as likely to have outdated and insufficient textbooks. The schools with the highest populations of poor and limited-English-proficient students were twelve times as likely to employ one fifth or more teachers without the proper credentials.

Plaintiffs are represented by a team of organizations, led by Public Advocates, Inc., the ACLUs of Northern and Southern California, Morrison & Foerster, LLP, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). More detailed information about the case can be found on the Decent Schools for California website.

Plaintiffs are requesting a trial date of June 2003.

Prepared October 17, 2002