Lawyers say state failed to produce court-ordered education plan

Lawyers representing local school boards say the state has failed to come up with a plan to improve public education as required by a judge who is overseeing a longstanding lawsuit.

For a hearing set to begin Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Howard Manning asked the State Board of Education to present a plan that corrects “educational deficiencies” that result in low test scores.

Manning monitors the state’s progress in meeting the state’s constitutional mandate for children to have an equal opportunity to obtain a sound basic education, a mandate upheld under state Supreme Court decisions known collectively as the Leandro case.

The State Board of Education said in its response, filed earlier this month, that children have that equal opportunity.

However, lawyers for the local boards maintain that it not true, because hundreds of thousands of students are reading below grade level or are performing below grade level in math.

The local school boards’ lawyers ask Manning to find that the state is violating court orders in the case, and to order the State Board of Education to work with “all necessary divisions of the executive branch” and the legislature to develop a plan for compliance within three months.

“The court has asked for a plan of action from the state and what has been presented has been a recitation of what the Department of Public Instruction is already doing and some aspirations,” said Melanie Dubis, a lawyer for the local school boards.