New York’s Appellate Division Third Department issued a groundbreaking ruling today in Maisto v. State, a challenge to inadequate school funding for students in eight New York “Small Cities” school districts.

The Appeals Court unanimously reversed the trial judge’s ruling, which dismissed the case without examining the extensive evidence presented during the two-month trial in 2015. The Court reaffirmed the framework established in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) rulings for analyzing claims of violations of New York’s Education Article. The Court made clear that in school funding cases, the trial court must examine the evidence regarding deficiencies in essential education resources, or inputs, student performance, or outcomes, and whether a lack of funding is a causal factor in resource deficits and low outcomes.

The Appeals Court remanded the case to the trial court for specific findings on inputs and causation for each of the eight Maisto districts: Jamestown, Kingston, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Port Jervis, Poughkeepsie and Utica.

Highlights of the Appellate Division ruling include the following:

1. The trial court erred by refusing to apply the CFE standards and failing to examine the extensive evidence presented for each district regarding inputs, outputs and causation;

2. On remand, the trial court must consider a broad range of inputs necessary for a sound basic education, including not only teachers and instrumentalities of learning, but also class size and supplemental services, such as academic intervention services, extended learning opportunities and social workers.

3. The proper standard for establishing causation on remand is whether the plaintiffs showed that increased funding can provide inputs that yield better student performance, evidence the State’s own experts conceded for every district.

“This is a great victory for the 55,000 children in the eight districts, and for children across New York State,” said Greg Little, Education Law Center’s Chief Trial Counsel and lead counsel in the Maisto trial. “The abundant evidence showed massive deficiencies in basic educational resources that deprived these needy students of their constitutional rights. We are confident that after considering the evidence on remand, the court will vindicate the rights of the students in these impoverished districts.”

Billy Easton, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education, said, “Once again, a court has upheld the rights of students to a sound basic education. We hope the legislature and Governor will take heed of this decision, the second in two months, and finally make CFE’s decade-long promise a reality, without further delays or the need for further court cases. New York cannot sacrifice another generation of children to political or legal gamesmanship.”

In addition to ELC’s Greg Little, David Sciarra and Wendy Lecker, the Maisto school children are represented by Robert Biggerstaff and David Kunz in Albany, and Robert Reilly and Megan Mercy of the NYSUT General Counsel Office.

More information about the Maisto case is available here.

Press Contact:

Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Director
973-624-1815, x 24

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Press Contact:
Sharon Krengel
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications
973-624-1815, x240