Case: Abbott v. Burke

96-00622 | New Jersey state trial court

Filed Date: 1996

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This class action lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey in 1981 on behalf of 20 children attending public schools in the cities of Camden, East Orange, Irvington, and Jersey City. The Plaintiffs, represented by counsel from the Education Law Center, claimed that the State's system of financing public education under the Public School Education Act of 1975 (Chapter 212) unconstitutionally favored students in rich communities over those in poorer communities. Specifically, the Pla…

This class action lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey in 1981 on behalf of 20 children attending public schools in the cities of Camden, East Orange, Irvington, and Jersey City. The Plaintiffs, represented by counsel from the Education Law Center, claimed that the State's system of financing public education under the Public School Education Act of 1975 (Chapter 212) unconstitutionally favored students in rich communities over those in poorer communities. Specifically, the Plaintiffs claimed that the Defendants' system of funding public education left a disparity in funding between schools in poor, urban communities and their more wealthy, suburban counterparts, which left the school districts in poorer communities without sufficient funds to properly educate their students.

Somewhere between 1985 and 1990, an Administrative Law Judge ruled that the Defendants' system of funding public education was unconstitutional. This was affirmed by the Supreme Court of New Jersey on June 5, 1990. In this order, the Court directed the New Jersey Legislature to enact a new law aimed at giving greater funding to poor, urban school districts such that they would have adequate funds to provide for necessary services. This new law was to be enacted before the 1991-92 school year. Abbott v. Burke, 575 A.2d 359 (N.J. 1990).

The Legislature responded with the Quality Education Act ("QEA"), which allowed for some increased funding, but not enough to satisfy the Plaintiffs. The case wound up back before the New Jersey Supreme Court in 1992 to be remanded to the trial court. After an extensive trial, the trial judge ruled that the QEA did not meet the expectations of the 1990 New Jersey Supreme Court order. The Judge recommended that the QEA be ruled unconstitutional, which was affirmed by the New Jersey Supreme Court on July 12, 1994. The Court then directed the State Legislature to enact another law to address the funding issues by September of 1996. Abbott v. Burke, 643 A.2d 575 (N.J. 1994).

This ruling prompted the Legislature to pass the Comprehensive Education Improvement and Financing Act ("CEIFA") in December of 1996. In January of 1997, however, the Plaintiffs returned to the Supreme Court of New Jersey to have CEIFA declared unconstitutional. The Court agreed with the Plaintiffs, and then gave the State Legislature specific goals for new legislation. These goals included parity in funding between wealthier and poorer school districts, and an immediate increase of $246 million in state aid to poorer school districts. Abbott v. Burke, 693 A.2d 417 (N.J. 1997). This ruling and another ruling on May 21, 1998 required a complete overhaul of the Defendants' funding procedures, and also allowed for poorer school districts to apply for increased funds, and an appeals process for those who were denied funding. Abbott v. Burke, 710 A.2d 454 (N.J. 1998); Abbott v. Burke, 693 A.2d 417 (N.J. 1997).

This case made New Jersey the first state in the United States to assure parity in educational resources to all children, regardless of economic background.

Over the past 14 years, this case has continued to show up in court due to delays in the implementation and execution of the Courts' 1997 and 1998 orders. The most recent New Jersey Supreme Court Opinion was released on May 24, 2011, declaring that the Defendants' failure to fund the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) of 2008 was a "substantial and consequential blow" to students' right to education. Abbott v. Burke, 20 A.3d 1018 (N.J. 2011).

As of this writing, the case is ongoing.

Summary Authors

Joshua Arocho (7/26/2012)

People


Judge(s)

Albin, Barry T. (New Jersey)

Antell, Peter (Massachusetts)

Doyne, Peter E. (New Jersey)

Handler, Alan B. (New Jersey)

Havey, James M. (New Jersey)

King, Michael Patrick (New Jersey)

Levy, Arthur (Pennsylvania)

Rivera-Soto, Roberto A. (New Jersey)

Stein, Gary S. (New Jersey)

Wallace, John E. Jr. (New Jersey)

Judge(s)

Albin, Barry T. (New Jersey)

Antell, Peter (Massachusetts)

Doyne, Peter E. (New Jersey)

Handler, Alan B. (New Jersey)

Havey, James M. (New Jersey)

King, Michael Patrick (New Jersey)

Levy, Arthur (Pennsylvania)

Rivera-Soto, Roberto A. (New Jersey)

Stein, Gary S. (New Jersey)

Wallace, John E. Jr. (New Jersey)

Wilentz, Robert N. (New Jersey)

Zazzali, James (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Ciancia, James J. (New Jersey)

Ellenbogen, H. Kit (New Jersey)

Feldman, Jonathan W. (New York)

Goltz, Bertram P. Jr. (New Jersey)

Kimmelman, Irwin I. (New Jersey)

Long, David C. (New Jersey)

Ryan, James E. (New Jersey)

Sciarra, David G. (New Jersey)

Song, Elaine M. (New Jersey)

Thronson, David B. (New Jersey)

Tractenberg, Paul (New Jersey)

Van Baaren, Valerie M. (New Jersey)

Weiser, Jennifer R. (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bass, Ellen S (New Jersey)

Brown, William C. (New Jersey)

Clancy, Michael R. (New Jersey)

Clark, Benjamin (New Jersey)

Isaac, E. Phillip (New Jersey)

Kaplen, Nancy (New Jersey)

Kimmich, Flora G. (New Jersey)

LaVecchia, Jaynee (New Jersey)

Miller, Jeffrey John (New Jersey)

Morheuser, Marilyn J. (New Jersey)

Peretti, Peter N. Jr. (New Jersey)

Poritz, Deborah T. (New Jersey)

Powers, David Earle (New Jersey)

Ramey, Alfred E. Jr. (New Jersey)

Verniero, Peter (New Jersey)

Walters, Michael C. (New Jersey)

Wint, Peter D. (New Jersey)

Other Attorney(s)

Adams, Marjorie A. (New Jersey)

Altman, Richard M. (New Jersey)

Baumol, Robert S. (New Jersey)

Beckett, David B. (New Jersey)

Bloom, Ronald I. (New Jersey)

Brandman, Shirley (New Jersey)

Buchsbaum, Peter A. (New Jersey)

Buckingham, Stephen R. (New Jersey)

Campbell, Francis J. (New Jersey)

Carter, Denise Mullens (New Jersey)

Charles, Joseph Jr. (New Jersey)

Coates, David H. (New Jersey)

Craig, Charles D. (New Jersey)

De Maio, Vincent C. (New Jersey)

Drury, James Creighton (New Jersey)

Eakeley, Douglas S. (New Jersey)

Eisdorfer, Stephen (New Jersey)

Farmer, John J. Jr. (New Jersey)

Friedman, Richard A. (New Jersey)

Garcia, Raul (New Jersey)

Hanson, Jane M. (New Jersey)

Harris, Maya Horton (New Jersey)

Hollar-Gregory, Michelle (New Jersey)

Howell, Joyce A. (New Jersey)

Jacobi, John V. (New Jersey)

Jacoby, M. Elaine (New Jersey)

Jahn, Cynthia J. (New Jersey)

Jones, Arthur H. Jr. (New Jersey)

Journick, Francis X. Jr. (New Jersey)

Kaelber, Michael F. (New Jersey)

Kaye, Donna M. (New Jersey)

Kirsch, Melissa Vance (New Jersey)

Kugler, George F. Jr. (New Jersey)

Lapidus, Lenora M. (New Jersey)

Lehmann, Sidney H. (New Jersey)

Liss, Eugene G. (New Jersey)

Logosso, Keri E. (New Jersey)

Loughlin, Michaelene (New Jersey)

Lustberg, Lawrence S. (New Jersey)

McCreedy, James M. (New Jersey)

Mchugh, Anne P. (New Jersey)

Medoway, Ellis I. (New Jersey)

Murphy, Margaret C. (New Jersey)

O'Driscoll, Aileen M. (New Jersey)

Oxford, Susan R. (District of Columbia)

Payne, John M. (New Jersey)

Pickett, Robert T. (New Jersey)

Rice, Cynthia C. (New Jersey)

Romberg, Jonathan (New Jersey)

Shapiro, Richard E. (New Jersey)

Sherman, Joseph S. (New Jersey)

Slocum, Alfred A. (New Jersey)

Stewart, Clifford Gregory (New Jersey)

Thorne, Maxim (New Jersey)

Wiley, Stephen B. (New Jersey)

Williams, Beverly A. (New Jersey)

Zalkind, Cecilia M. (New Jersey)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Reported Opinion

477 A.2d 1278

May 11, 1984

May 11, 1984

Order/Opinion

Petition for Certification Granted

New Jersey state supreme court

483 A.2d 187

July 12, 1984

July 12, 1984

Order/Opinion

Reported Opinion

New Jersey state supreme court

495 A.2d 376

July 23, 1985

July 23, 1985

Order/Opinion

96-00622

Order

New Jersey state supreme court

575 A.2d 359

June 5, 1990

June 5, 1990

Order/Opinion

91-C-00150

Reported Opinion

1993 WL 379818

Aug. 31, 1993

Aug. 31, 1993

Order/Opinion

91-C-00150

Certification Granted

New Jersey state supreme court

636 A.2d 515

Oct. 4, 1993

Oct. 4, 1993

Order/Opinion

96-00622

Order

New Jersey state supreme court

643 A.2d 575

July 12, 1994

July 12, 1994

Order/Opinion

96-00622

Brief in Response to Plaintiffs' Motion in Aid of Litigants' Rights

New Jersey state supreme court

May 17, 1996

May 17, 1996

Pleading / Motion / Brief

96-00622

Plaintiffs' Reply Brief

New Jersey state supreme court

May 22, 1996

May 22, 1996

Pleading / Motion / Brief

96-00622

Opinion

New Jersey state supreme court

693 A.2d 417

May 14, 1997

May 14, 1997

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: New Jersey

Case Type(s):

Education

Key Dates

Filing Date: 1996

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Students in poor minority communities who were adversely affected by finance provisions of the state statutory system of elementary and secondary public education.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Commissioner of Education, State

Director of Budget and Accounting, State

State Treasurer , State

State Board of Education, State

Defendant Type(s):

Elementary/Secondary School

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Availably Documents:

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Content of Injunction:

Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention

Issues

General:

Funding

Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)