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Settlement of Delaware education suit promises historic changes

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Historic change to Delaware’s education system is one step closer.

Watch: Education secretary takes back-to-school questions from reporter Natalia Alamdari

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Gov. John Carney and civil rights groups settled a lawsuit that accused Delaware education officials of sending more money to schools with affluent children than it does to schools with high concentrations of children living in poverty.  

The settlement kicks the issue to the General Assembly, which for two decades has not implemented state commissions’ suggestions to formally allocate more funding for low-income students, English language learners and students with disabilities.

The plaintiffs wrote in their complaint that schools with high concentrations of those students struggle to afford enough staff to meet the children’s needs. 

The potentially landmark case in Delaware Chancery Court sought to have the state’s school funding system ruled unconstitutional, with civil rights groups arguing state officials knowingly fail to give all children an adequate education.

INITIAL FILING: Civil rights groups sue Delaware over education funding for low-income, disadvantaged students

They cited figures showing disadvantaged students are scoring far below state standards on state assessments

The settlement

In the settlement, reached close to three years after the lawsuit was first filed by Delawareans for Educational Opportunity and the Delaware NAACP, Carney agreed to make a number of budgetary proposals to the General Assembly — mainly, changing Delaware law to make weighted school funding permanent. 

The case had been scheduled to go to trial next month.

“While we were not able to get everything we wanted in this settlement, it does provide support for children that is desperately needed in Delaware’s education system,” said Jea Street of Delawareans for Educational Opportunity, who is also a New Castle County councilman, in a news release. 

Weighted funding takes into account additional needs and disadvantages

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Havasupai students who sued for better education reach settlement with federal government

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A federal judge approved a settlement between the federal Bureau of Indian Education and a group of Havasupai students who sued for better schooling, marking the first concrete result in a long-running case that could improve education for thousands of Native American students with disabilities. 



a sign on the side of a building: In 2017, Havasupai students and families sued the BIE for “longstanding educational deprivations.” A judge ruled in an ongoing case that the BIE violated its responsibility to provide students with disabilities education through services like individualized special education plans.


© Alden Woods/The Republic
In 2017, Havasupai students and families sued the BIE for “longstanding educational deprivations.” A judge ruled in an ongoing case that the BIE violated its responsibility to provide students with disabilities education through services like individualized special education plans.

The suit was filed in January 2017 by students and their families at Havasupai Elementary School, which sits on the Havasupai reservation at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It accused the federally operated school of “longstanding educational deprivations,” including chronic understaffing that forced educators to cover as many as three grades at once and the denial of special education services.

The settlement resolves only the claims centered on the education provided to students with disabilities. It makes permanent a newly developed BIE policy that ensures all students with disabilities in BIE-operated schools have equal access to their education, requires an independent monitor to review the school’s compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and provides all 12 student plaintiffs $20,000 for compensatory educational services. 

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Section 504 bans discrimination against students with disabilities, and requires that schools provide accommodations to ensure those students have access to an equal education. 

“This historic agreement has paved a path forward for my three children to have educational opportunities they were deprived of at Havasupai Elementary School,” Billie P., the mother of three students named in the lawsuit, said in a statement. “While nothing can ever make up for