Significant current and recent legal cases are listed below, categorized by topic. For more information about each lawsuit, including legal documents and a more detailed overview, click on the case name. Descriptions of many additional cases can be found on the Issues pages on this website.

Special Education

D.R. v. Michigan Department of Education: ELC, the private law firm White & Case, and local partner, the ACLU of Michigan, brought suit against the Michigan Department of Education, Flint Community Schools, and the Genesee Intermediate School District on behalf of thousands of parents and students of Flint, Michigan. This groundbreaking case cites ongoing violations of federal law in the Flint Public Schools, noting that children’s exposure to lead in their drinking water can exacerbate disabilities and increase the number of students requiring special education services.

M.A. v. Newark Public Schools: ELC’s advocacy resulted in a comprehensive settlement designed to reform Newark, New Jersey’s, inadequate special education referral and evaluation system under the oversight of a State monitor, along with implementation of a comprehensive special education database, mandatory staff training, and extensive reporting of compliance activities. ELC continues to monitor implementation.

School Funding

Abbott v. Burke: For over 40 years, ELC has served as legal counsel for the plaintiff-class of over 300,000 school-aged children in 31 low-wealth, urban school districts in New Jersey. The Abbott rulings directed implementation of a comprehensive set of improvements, including adequate K-12 foundational funding, universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-old children and funding for supplemental or at-risk programs. In 2016, ELC successfully defended the Abbott plaintiffs against a motion by former Governor Christie to modify the Supreme Court’s order for adequate school funding.

Cortes v. Mujica: ELC successfully challenged a decision by New York State’s Director of Budget to withhold grant funds appropriated by the Legislature to improve school performance, resulting in the release of $69 million dollars in transformation grants to nine schools.

NYSER v. State: ELC joined Michael Rebell and Morgan Lewis & Bockius in the NYSER lawsuit to compel New York State to fulfill its constitutional obligation to adequately fund the public schools in the wake of the landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity rulings. The case alleges that chronic underfunding has deprived students of essential education resources, including teachers, reasonable class size, tutoring, social workers, and interventions for at-risk individuals.

Vouchers and Charters

Lopez v. Schwartz: ELC and the private law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson, successfully challenged a proposed voucher law in Nevada, which would have diverted millions of dollars in public funds to private schools.

In re Renewal Application of TEAM Academy Charter School:  ELC brought this case on behalf of the Abbott v. Burke schoolchildren, challenging 2016 decisions by the NJ Commissioner of Education granting significant enrollment expansion in seven Newark charter schools.

Graduation Regulations

In Re N.J.A.C. 6A:8: Civil rights and parent advocacy organizations represented by ELC and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey filed a lawsuit challenging new state regulations governing high school graduation in New Jersey. The NJ Superior Court, Appellate Division struck down the regulations.

Class Size

Agostini v. Elia: ELC, along with Class Size Matters and the Alliance for Quality Education, filed a lawsuit against the New York Education Commissioner to demand smaller classes in NYC schools. Under the Contract for Excellence Law, the State Education Commissioner in 2007 approved the New York City district’s plan to reduce class sizes over five years. The district failed to implement the 2007 plan. As a result, class sizes continue to increase across the city, with at least 291,809 students in classes of 30 or more as of November 2017.