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Judge Dismisses State's No Child Suit

By Donna Tommelleo, Associated Press


A federal judge has dismissed the last of four claims in Connecticut's challenge that the federal No Child Left Behind law is unconstitutional.

Judge Mark Kravitz rejected the state's claim that alleges the U.S. Department of Education unfairly denied Connecticut's proposed changes to testing rules for special education and limited English proficiency students (LEP).

State officials contended it would have to use state money to meet the federal Act's requirements, a violation of the law's unfunded mandates provision. Kravitz said the state failed to make the argument that Education Department's denial violated that provision.

"Though Connecticut provided estimates of what it would cost to modify and implement assessment policies and accommodations for LEP students and to develop alternative assessments for students with disabilities ... nowhere did it state that federal funding was insufficient to cover those costs," Kravitz wrote in the ruling released Monday.

Connecticut brought the lawsuit in 2005, becoming the first state to sue of the federal law's testing requirements.

The 2002 law requires annual standardized tests for students in grades three through eight. States must correct problems in school districts that fall short. Connecticut wants to continue its program of testing students every other year, in grades four, six and eight.

Kravitz dismissed the first three claims in September 2006, ruling the state can't challenge the constitutionality of the law until it exhausted the U.S. Department of Education's administrative appeals.

The U.S. Education Department called the decision a "resounding victory" for children and their families seeking a better future through education.

"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," the department said in a statement.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Tuesday he will appeal the decision.

"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," he said in a statement.

— Donna Tommelleo, Associated Press
Hartford Courant


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