School funding case may be delayed

Dianne Kaplan deVries

Dianne Kaplan deVries: ‘I want to go to trial as soon as possible.’

The trial that will determine whether the state is spending enough money to provide all public school children in Connecticut with an adequate education will probably be delayed.

It had been set to begin on Jan. 6, the day before the state legislature convenes its annual session.

But the lawyers who represent the 18 parents of children in the state’s poorest communities, asked a Hartford Superior Court judge on Thursday to push back the trial, citing problems compiling email records the court has ordered them to provide.

The court ordered the leader of the coalition suing the state – Dianne Kaplan deVries – to turn over her emails since the coalition was first formed more than nine years ago. Included in the 550,000 pages of emails were some instructing recipients, including one of the parents suing the state, to delete their correspondence.

In his motion to delay the trial, Rosen said he believes the issue with the emails “is neither widespread nor directly related to the merits.”

“However, the issue is being taken seriously and a thorough investigation is being conducted in an effort to appropriately remediate the issue,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote.

During an interview Kaplan deVries had no comment on the emails, but said she is eager for the trial to begin.

“I want to go to trial as soon as possible,” she said. The state is not objecting to a delay.

The likely delay comes more than four years after the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the state Constitution guarantees students the right to a minimum qualitative standard and “suitable” educational opportunities. The Supreme Court returned the case to the Hartford Superior Court for a trial to determine whether the state has met that standard and, if not, what remedies should be ordered.

The plaintiffs claim that, despite Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s increasing education grants to towns by $150 million during his four-year tenure, schools across the state are still financially unable to provide an adequate education to Connecticut’s children. They estimate as much as $2 billion more is needed on top of the $3.3 billion the state will spend on education this year.

It is unclear how long the case will be pushed back if the judge accepts the motion.

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