LANSING — The state of Michigan early Thursday announced a settlement in a lawsuit over poor reading skills that was filed on behalf of Detroit schoolchildren, weeks after a federal appeals court issued a groundbreaking decision recognizing a constitutional right to education and literacy.
The 2016 lawsuit that the appeals court had sent back to a federal judge in Detroit alleged that the city’s public schools were in “slum-like conditions” and “functionally incapable of delivering access to literacy.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the plaintiffs announced the agreement in a joint statement.
“We are pleased to announce that we have reached a settlement that will help secure the right of access to literacy for students in Detroit who faced obstacles they never should have faced,” they said. “This landmark court decision recognizes that every child in Michigan deserves an opportunity to obtain an education, which is essential to having a strong foundation in life and a brighter future.”
Details of the deal will be released later Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III had dismissed the case in 2018, asserting the U.S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee a fundamental right to literacy.
But on April 23, the appeals court said students at poor performing, dilapidated Detroit schools are entitled to a basic minimum education under the U.S. Constitution. The decision could lead to millions of dollars in new spending.
The Republican-led Legislature recently asked the full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to set aside the 2-1 ruling. It said managing K-12 education is a job for state and local officials, not the federal judiciary.
Whitmer, a Democrat, replaced Republican Gov. Rick Snyder as a defendant after being elected in 2018.
Source:David Eggert, Associated Press