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More About This Case

The California State Supreme Court has confirmed that the State itself has broad responsibility to ensure basic educational equality under the California Constitution. Yet many California public schoolchildren are asked to learn under unequal conditions that truly shock the conscience:

  • A math class interrupted by rats.
  • Classrooms so hot that students faint.
  • Students who go years without being able to take a textbook home to study.
  • Classes that continue for an entire year without ever being assigned a teacher.

Children who lack the bare essentials necessary for an education can hardly be expected to achieve. The State denies that it has responsibility for addressing these conditions, claiming that it is solely a matter of local responsibility.

That is why on May 17, 2000 -- the 46th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education (which outlawed racial segregation in schools) -- a class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of California's public schoolchildren in an effort to make the State face up to its responsibility. The lawsuit, Williams v. California, was filed against the State of California, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State Department of Education and the State Board of Education. The suit charges that the State and its agencies have denied thousands of California children their fundamental right to an education under the California Constitution by failing to give them the basic tools necessary for that education.

By bringing this suit we hope to give all of California's children the education that their Constitution guarantees them.

Manuel Ortiz, a high school student in Pajaro Valley Joint Unified School District, looked at the State's lawyers during his deposition and said, "Isn't education the number one priority? It should be the number one priority on the list. They should give us what we need, because without education, we don't got a future. That's basically it."

We couldn't agree more.

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