A federal judge has dismissed the final piece of the state's 2005 lawsuit challenging the cost of the No Child Left Behind Act.
U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz rejected the state's contention that U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings violated administrative procedures and acted arbitrarily in denying Connecticut's proposals to amend the testing program for children with disabilities and those who speak little or no English.
Kravitz noted that his ruling, released Monday, did not address the wisdom of the states' testing proposals or of Spellings' decision to deny them, but whether Spellings acted legally in denying them.
Kravitz also said the state had failed to show that the cost of carrying out the testing program without the changes Spellings rejected violated the act's provision prohibiting unfunded mandates.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said he will appeal the ruling and hopes the appeals court will address the "core merits" of the case.
"The federal government has grossly underfunded Connecticut's costs under the Act, and has mindlessly refused to grant Connecticut waivers or plan amendments to allow it to continue fair testing methods for special-education students and new non-English-speaking students," Blumenthal said in a written statement.
Kravitz previously dismissed the other three counts of the lawsuit, largely on technical grounds. He ruled in 2006 that the court's jurisdiction did not cover Spellings' denial of the state's request to waive a requirement to test all students in grades 3 through 8.
Samara Yudof, press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, praised the ruling.
"Secretary Spellings is delighted with the judge's decision and emphasized that today's decision is a resounding victory for children and their families who seek to make a brighter future for themselves through education," Yudof said in a written statement. "No Child Left Behind provides parents and educators with the tools they need to measure their children's progress and to ensure their access to the American dream."
State Department of Education spokesman Tom Murphy said the law has brought the state benefits, such as better tracking of the performance of all students, but also costs.
"Needless to say, school districts remind us every day of the need for additional funding," he said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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