State officials and legislators reacted with surprise to Thursdayâ€™s decision by a Superior Court judge to send the Sheff vs. Oâ€™Neill school desegregation case back before the legislature.
The long-running Sheff vs. Oâ€™ Neill lawsuit returned to court last November, after the General Assembly failed to ratify a settlement agreement between the plaintiffs and the state. Speaking on WNPRâ€™s Where We Live Attorney, General Richard Blumenthal said heâ€™s surprised that legislators may now have to re-consider that agreement. "...because that legislative settlement has deadlines or dates for accomplishing certain goals that have now passed. So how do we have the legislature reconsider it, when parts of it may be somewhat out of date?"
But Blumenthal said the judge may want the two sides to resolve their differences without court intervention. State Representative Andy Fleischmann says heâ€™ll encourage lawmakers to take up the Sheff issue when the session begins in February. "The legislature still has time to act upon it. So the question of where we go next in the Sheff vs. Oâ€™Neill matter is again squarely before the General Assembly, which is where I think it ought to be. And I, for one, am going to seek ratification of the consent agreement."
The agreement calls on Connecticut to spend more than 100 million dollars over the next five years on magnet, charter and vocational schools designed to attract suburban students into Hartford. In last yearâ€™s budget, the General Assembly agreed to fund the first two years, but some legislators questioned whether it made sense for the state to spend that much money on strategies they say arenâ€™t working. Hartfordâ€™s schools remain essentially as segregated, as they were a decade ago.