In September 2014, five Western New York families, with children attending charter schools in Buffalo and Rochester, filed a lawsuit with the help of the Northeast Charter Schools Network (NECSN). The lawsuit, Brown v. New York, challenged the constitutionality of the funding scheme used by the State to allocate money to charter schools.
These brave charter school parents argued the state funding formula results in their children receiving only 60 to 75 cents on every dollar and no facilities funding denies them access to a sound basic education, as required by the New York State Constitution.
Additionally, as 90% of students attending charter schools are students of color, and the New York Charter Schools Act directly targets populations that tend to be overwhelmingly comprised of minorities, the Plaintiffs also alleged that the funding scheme has a disproportionate and discriminatory impact on minority students.
The lack of facilities funding also forces these schools to waitlist hundreds of students each year. With no space available in charter schools, the vast majority of these waitlisted students are forced to remain in failing district schools, which provide no hope of an effective education.
The Plaintiffs sought:
- A declaration that the State’s funding scheme, which results in charter students receiving 60 to 75 cents on every dollar received by district students, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the New York State Constitution;
- A declaration that the State’s funding scheme, which denies facilities funding to charter schools, violates the New York State Constitution;
- A declaration that the State’s funding scheme, because of its overwhelming and targeted impact on minority students, unconstitutionally discriminates on the basis of race.