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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