Attorneys in literacy lawsuit plan to appeal federal judge’s ‘disappointing’ dismissal

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Michigan Chronicle

The lawsuit, filed in September 2016, claimed poor conditions in Detroit schools led to Detroit’s main district having the nation’s lowest literacy rate.

The students and their families plan to appeal the ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a 40-page decision handed down late Friday, U.S. District Judge Stephen J. Murphy III rejected the state’s claims that it had no responsibility for the conditions of Detroit schools, and held that “educational responsibilities begin at the state level” and that state officials “effectively control the schools.”

He said that “when a child who could be taught to read goes untaught, the child suffers a lasting injury — and so does society,” but said literacy is not a right. Murphy said in the ruling the question of a constitutional right to literacy and a basic education should not be decided by any one court and should be supported by a number of Supreme Court decisions.

The state’s attorneys sought to have the lawsuit dismissed and asked the judge to reject “an attempt to destroy the American tradition of democratic control of schools.”

“The court got it tragically wrong when it characterized access to literacy as a privilege, instead of a right held by all children so that they may better their circumstances and meaningfully participate in our political system,” Mark Rosenbaum, lead attorney representing the student plaintiffs, said in a statement Monday.

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