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LDF Statement on Temporary Restraining Order to Stop the Lowering of Desegregation Standards in Hartford

Today, Superior Court Judge Marshall K. Berger, Jr. announced that he will issue a temporary restraining order preventing the State of Connecticut from unilaterally altering the existing desegregation plan – which is set to expire June 30 – in an effort to lower integration standards.  The order from the court will extend the current plan for several months as the parties attempt to resolve their disagreements. The current plan calls for magnet schools to aim for student bodies that are no more than 75 percent Black and Hispanic. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc (LDF) commends the work of our co-counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for Children’s Advocacy, and cooperating attorney Wesley Horton.

“For nearly 15 years, the Sheff magnet schools have offered Hartford-area students the opportunity to be educated in high quality, racially integrated classrooms,” said Deuel Ross, Assistant Counsel at LDF.

“Today’s decision affirms that the State cannot back away from the existing desegregation standards,” said Angel Harris, Assistant Counsel at LDF. “Connecticut must continue to work with the plaintiffs to meet its responsibility to provide the educational opportunities the law demands.”

The Sheff v. O’Neill case started with a 1989 lawsuit filed on behalf of Hartford students by LDF, the ACLU, the Center for Children’s Advocacy, and Wesley Horton. The lawsuit alleged that the State of Connecticut had failed to provide Hartford-area students with a high quality, racially integrated education as required by the State Constitution. In 1996, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered the state to take the remedial measures necessary to integrate schools. 

A new agreement was reached in June 2016 to continue the current desegregation efforts at schools in Hartford and the surrounding suburbs. 

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Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.