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ACLU sues Delaware state and local officials over school funding

Delaware Public Media
District 10 Councilman Jea Street speaks in support of the suit.

The ACLU announced Tuesday it is filing suit against the state of Delaware. The complaint alleges the state is not providing enough resources for disadvantaged students in its school system.

Testing data shows the vast majority of low income students, English language learners and students with disabilities in Delaware are not meeting the state standards. Delaware is in the minority of states not using a weighted funding formula to allocate additional money to support those disadvantaged students.

The ACLU filed suit in the Court of Chancery on behalf of Delawareans for Educational Opportunity and the NAACP. The complaint is asking the state to remedy the disparity of success in its schools by changing the way education funding is distributed.

“My hope is the state will just increase funding for education,” said Amy Yarnell, a mother of two in the school system and a member of DEO.

Attorneys for the case say 46 other states provide additional funding for low income students, while 35 others provide extra funding for English language learners—and that more than 30 similar cases have been filed across the country and most have been successful.

ACLU of Delaware Legal Director Ryan Tack-Hooper says the suit identifies problems in specific schools and districts, but adds there are systemic issues with the Department of Ed.

“This is a statewide problem,” said Tack-Hooper. “There are the schools that have the least resources, and there are schools that have the most resources, but in every school there are kids that are falling through the gaps.”