Stanford law clinic involved in state education suit

May 21, 2010, 1:03 a.m.

A Stanford Law School project is helping represent the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the State of California filed on Thursday alleging the state education finance system is unconstitutional because it denies all students equal opportunities to meet academic targets.

Stanford Law’s Youth and Education Law Project, part of the Mills Legal Clinic, is representing the plaintiffs in Robles-Wong, et al. v. State of California, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, along with firm Bingham McCutchen and attorney William Abrams.

The lawsuit calls attention to the disparity in per-pupil spending between California and other states — a more than $2,800 gap, the plaintiffs said.

Sixty students and families, nine school districts, the California School Boards Association, the California State PTA and the Association of California School Administrators filed the lawsuit together.

They are asking a judge to make the state rid itself of its current education finance system, determine what spending level would meet “the needs of California’s school children” and create a new way to fund schools.

“California’s unstable, unsound and insufficient school finance system is robbing our students of an education,” said Frank Pugh, the chair of the School Boards Association, in a statement.

“We believe this is an appropriate role for the courts to play,” said William Koski Ph.D. ’03, the director of the Youth and Education Law Project, in a statement from Stanford. “We’re not asking a judge to legislate. The resolution will come in the political arena. But forcing the legislature to do something will break the gridlock on these issues in Sacramento.”

The Youth and Education Law Project has Stanford law students earn community service experience by representing families and children in school- and discipline-related litigation and by doing policy research and advocacy.

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