Wilmington may go to court to force a countywide property reassessment

The Leonard L. Williams Justice Center in Wilmington

A legal challenge to the fairness and constitutionality of Delaware's school funding formula will keep moving in court.

Plaintiffs in the case contend that students from low-income families, those who are still learning English, and students with disabilities are being short-changed by a system that directs more state dollars to schools that are already well off.

The NAACP and Delawareans for Educational Opportunity say the discrepancy is reflected in test scores.

Tuesday, a 133-page opinion released by Vice Chancellor Travis Laster directs the state to respond to the allegations and denies motions to dismiss counts in the complaint.

Laster heard about two hours of arguments in the case last summer.

"The defendants now have to admit or deny our fact allegations," plaintiffs' attorney Richard Morse said. "If they don't admit them then we will go forward with the traditional things that happen in litigation leading up to a trial where the judge decides what the facts are. If we prove the facts we say in the complaint, we should get relief."

A spokesperson for the Carney administration said the opinion was still being reviewed.

Separately, Governor Carney has spoken about a commitment to make a quality education available to all students. The state's budget he signed last summer makes investments into schools that have significant populations of students from low income families, with special needs or who are still learning English.

Morse said their complaint suggested possible remedies, "but we are not asking the judge at this point to order those things. We're asking the Vice Chancellor to say, 'it's deficient, here's why it's deficient, and state, you need to fix it.'"