The deadline has passed for state officials to reach an agreement on how to desegregate Hartford's predominantly black and Hispanic public schools.
"As of right now, we don't have an agreement," said Martha Stone, the lawyer behind the school desegregation lawsuit that led to the Connecticut Supreme Court ordering the state to reduce the inequities caused by racial and ethnic isolation.
In April, Attorney General George Jepsen and Stone signed a court order that set an Oct. 1 deadline for the parties to outline how to further integrate Hartford's 21,000-student school system. The state has spent billions of dollars since the Sheff vs. O'Neill court decision 17 years ago building magnet schools and paying tuition to enroll city student in suburban schools.
Because of those reforms, 37 percent of Hartford students attended integrated schools during last school year –- 4 percentage points shy of the 41 percent benchmark the state had agreed to reach by now. Stone and advocates of the reforms made so far are arguing that the next agreement with the court should have a benchmark much higher than 41 percent. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has objected to raising that benchmark.
The state has 30 days before Stone can ask the judge to step in to prescribe a resolution.
Kelly Donnelly, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Education, said officials are hopeful a new agreement will be reached before then.
“While negotiations continue past the October 1st target date, all parties continue to work in good faith towards an agreement that will serve the best interest of all Hartford public school students. And we are hopeful that a formal agreement will be reached by the November 1st deadline" before the court has the right to step in, Donnelly said in an emailed statement.
One-year agreement between the State Department of Education and the Sheff plaintiffs, April 2013 (Return to where you were reading in the article here.)
5-year Sheff agreement between the State Department of Education and the Sheff plaintiffs, April 2008
Sheff vs. O'Neill decision from the Connecticut State Supreme Court, July 1996 (Return to where you were reading in the article here.)