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Connecticut finally to settle a 32-year old Hartford school desegregation case

Alan Levine

Connecticut has reached a settlement in a 32-year-old school desegregation case. Under the settlement in the landmark Sheff versus O’Neill case, the state promised to create more access to magnet and suburban schools for Hartford students.

“We just didn’t do it for children of color. We did it for all of our kids. And that’s important to understand. So General Assembly, get your act together, we are heading your way,” said Elizabeth Norton Sheff. She filed the lawsuit in 1989 on behalf of her 10-year-old son Milo. He’s now a 43-year old-grandfather.

The settlement has to be approved by lawmakers and get a final sign-off from the court.

It creates opportunities for all children, said Governor Ned Lamont.

“This is a way we’re going to make sure that no kid is left behind regardless of race, color or creed. This is a way to make sure that they have choice, parents have choice, kids have choice. They can go to the school of their choice. Nobody is going to be kept out,” said Lamont.

The settlement requires the state to add 780 more opportunities for Hartford children to attend magnet schools and nearby suburban districts by the 2023-24 school year. That increases to nearly 3,000 seats by 2028-29. It also commits the state to increase spending on magnet schools up to $32 million by fiscal year 2032. And nearly $49 million would fund renovations at magnet schools.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.