Case: S.S. v. State of Michigan

12-09231 | Michigan state trial court

Filed Date: July 12, 2012

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On July 12, 2012 the Michigan ACLU and 12 students filed this lawsuit in the Circuit Court for the County of Wayne (Michigan) against the Highland Park School District ("School District"), the State of Michigan, and related officials. The Plaintiffs alleged that the School District had violated its duty under MCL 380.1278(8), which requires that "a pupil who does not score satisfactorily on the 4th or 7th grade Michigan educational assessment program [MEAP] reading test shall be provided specia…

On July 12, 2012 the Michigan ACLU and 12 students filed this lawsuit in the Circuit Court for the County of Wayne (Michigan) against the Highland Park School District ("School District"), the State of Michigan, and related officials. The Plaintiffs alleged that the School District had violated its duty under MCL 380.1278(8), which requires that "a pupil who does not score satisfactorily on the 4th or 7th grade Michigan educational assessment program [MEAP] reading test shall be provided special assistance reasonably expected to enable the pupil to bring his or her reading skills to grade level within 12 months." The Plaintiffs also alleged that the State had failed to enforce the statute, and to fulfill its obligations under Article 8 of the Michigan Constitution, which in § 1 declares "schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged" and in § 2 requires that the legislature "maintain and support a system of free public elementary and secondary schools as defined by law." In the School District, two thirds of all students lacked the basic literacy skills required to pass the MEAP exam, and the special assistance mandated by MCL 380.1278(8) was not provided.

The Plaintiffs also claimed that the State had violated the equal protection clause of the Michigan Constitution, arguing equal protection of the law required equal access to basic educational opportunities for children in all Michigan public school districts. The Plaintiffs sought declaratory, injunctive, and equitable relief from the conditions imposed by the Defendants.

The Defendants filed motions to dismiss the plaintiffs' allegations, and several hearings were held on this motions between January and June of 2013. On June 27, 2013, the Court (Judge Marvin R. Stempien) issued an Opinion and Order in which it held that, although the Statute does not explicitly create a private cause of action, it did imply a cause of action. The Plaintiffs therefore did have standing to bring the case under MCL 380.1278(8). The Judge also held that the Legislature's decision to delegate its Article 8 responsibilities to local authorities did not divest the Legislature and the State government from their duty to ensure that the State's public schools provided an adequate level of education. He held that the education of children could not be "abandon[ed] ... to the vagaries of local school finances." Judge Stempien also denied the Defendants' motion to dismiss the entirety of the complaint on the grounds that the Plaintiffs had not exhausted their administrative remedies, finding the existing administrative remedies insufficient to cure the alleged violations. The Defendants' motions to dismiss on the grounds of government immunity, mootness, and lack of ripeness were also dismissed. The Judge did dismiss the Plaintiffs' equal protection claim, finding that the Plaintiff's complaint did not state facts that could show that the students in the Highland Park School District were treated unequally as compared to students from other districts. S.S. v. State of Michigan, 2013.

This "right to read" lawsuit is the first of its kind in Michigan, and the Clearinghouse will follow it as it develops. The case is ongoing.

Summary Authors

Alex Colbert-Taylor (7/12/2013)

People


Judge(s)

Stempien, Marvin R (Michigan)

Ziolkowski, Robert L (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Chaney, Nakisha N. (Michigan)

Fancher, Mark P. (Michigan)

Guggenheim, Steven D. (California)

Haberman, Rick A. (Michigan)

Macey, Edward Alan (Michigan)

Moreno, Catherine Eugenia (California)

Moss, Kary L. (Michigan)

Rosenbaum, Mark Dale (California)

Judge(s)

Stempien, Marvin R (Michigan)

Ziolkowski, Robert L (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Chaney, Nakisha N. (Michigan)

Fancher, Mark P. (Michigan)

Guggenheim, Steven D. (California)

Haberman, Rick A. (Michigan)

Macey, Edward Alan (Michigan)

Moreno, Catherine Eugenia (California)

Moss, Kary L. (Michigan)

Rosenbaum, Mark Dale (California)

Salvatore, Jennifer B. (Michigan)

Sapp, David B. (California)

Steinberg, Michael J. (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Fowler, Darrin F. (Michigan)

Martone, Jonathan Michael (Michigan)

Pelton, Eric J. (Michigan)

Shekell, Brian David (Michigan)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

CASE NO. 12-009231-CZ

Docket

SS v. State of Michigan

July 1, 2013

July 1, 2013

Docket

Press Release

No Court

July 12, 2012

July 12, 2012

Press Release

Complaint and Petition for Writ of Mandamus

July 12, 2012

July 12, 2012

Complaint

12-09231

Amended Complaint

S. S. v. State of Michigan

Aug. 8, 2012

Aug. 8, 2012

Complaint

12-09231

Opinion and Order

June 27, 2013

June 27, 2013

Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated Sept. 8, 2022, 3:04 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Michigan

Case Type(s):

Education

Key Dates

Filing Date: July 12, 2012

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Students in the Highland Park School District ("HPSD") who have been denied the instruction necessary to attain basic literacy skills and reading proficiency expected of all students by the State of Michigan.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU of Michigan

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Pending

Defendants

State of Michigan, State

Michigan Department of Education, State

Superintendent of Public Instruction, State

Emergency Manager of Highland Park, State

Highland Park School District, School District

State Board of Education, State

Defendant Type(s):

Elementary/Secondary School

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

None yet

Source of Relief:

None yet

Issues

General:

Communication skills

Failure to train

Funding

Individualized planning

Language access/needs

Affected Gender:

Female

Male

Type of Facility:

Government-run