Suit Claiming MN Promotes Segregation in Schools Fails in Court of Appeals

MN Court of Appeals rejects suit alleging state responsible for racial and socioeconomic segregation in schools

ST. PAUL, MN – A lawsuit claiming that segregation in public schools deprived children of their constitutional right to an education failed in the Minnesota Court of Appeals Monday.

As MPR reports, the lawsuit stemmed from the group One Family One Community and several parents suing the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Education, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, the Minnesota Senate, the Minnesota House of Representatives, DFL Governor Mark Dayton, DFL Senate President Sandra Pappas and Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt in November of 2015.

The original lawsuit alleged that racially segregated schools are responsible for achievement gaps between minority students and their white peers.

MPR explains that a district court dismissed the suit against elected officials, saying they are immune from such suits. However, state officials appealed the lower court’s decision not to dismiss the entire suit, claiming it’s not an appropriate question for the court system.

At the core of the debate was the education clause of the Minnesota Constitution and whether or not children attending public school in the metro were denied their constitutional right to uniform education.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the education clause of the Minnesota State Constitution did not guarantee a quality education, explaining, “We are not aware of any precedential case expressly holding that Minnesota’s Education Clause imposes a qualitative educational requirement.”

Judge Michelle Ann Larkin wrote the decision, heavily focused on pointing out the political nature of the suit. “In sum, respondents’ claims are so enmeshed with political elements that they present a nonjusticiable political question.” writes Judge Larkin.

According to MPR the attorney for One Family One Community, Daniel Shulman, will ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to review the case.


Julia Erynn