There are no law firms in the State of Georgia and few, if any, in the nation that have as much experience representing large K-12 systems and other educational entities as the attorneys in our law firm. We had the privilege of serving as general counsel for the Fulton County Board of Education for over 70 years and representing other Georgia school systems in discrete matters. As a result, we have substantial, hands-on experience in every legal issue that a school system in Georgia is likely to encounter.
Sutherland attorneys have also successfully represented state and local governments and executive officials in a variety of complex matters ranging from school funding and adequacy litigation to voting rights and desegregation cases.
Among the major cases in which we have played a leading role are:
- Consortium for Adequate School Funding in Georgia v. State of Georgia. We represented the State in a challenge to the constitutionality of its school funding scheme. The plaintiffs dismissed their case on the eve of trial.
- Committee for Educational Equality v. State of Missouri. Along with the attorney general’s office, we successfully represented the State in an eight-week trial challenging the constitutionality of the State’s school funding system.
- New York adequacy case, CFE v. State of New York. Along with the New York attorney general’s office, we represented the State and Governor of New York in a seven-month trial in a case challenging the constitutionality of the State's education financing system and the adequacy of the New York City Public Schools.
- North Dakota adequacy case, Williston Public School District, et al. v. State of North Dakota, et al. We defended the State of North Dakota (as co-counsel with the State Attorney General) in a challenge to the constitutionality of the state's K-12 school funding formulas brought by nine plaintiff school districts. Plaintiffs' principal expert opined that over $200 million per year in additional funding from the state was needed to meet the constitutional standard. After completion of expert discovery and shortly before trial was set to begin, however, the parties entered into an agreement that stays the case through the next legislative session.
- Florida adequacy case, Honore v. Bush, et al. We represented the Florida legislature in a statewide lawsuit alleging that the state’s system of K-12 education did not meet state constitutional standards.
- Minnesota adequacy cases, St. Paul School District v. State of Minnesota, et al. and Minneapolis Branch of the NAACP v. State of Minnesota, et al. We represented, along with the state attorney general's office, the State and Governor of Minnesota in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state's funding system as it related to the St. Paul and Minneapolis School districts. Both cases were settled on a basis very favorable to the State.
- Connecticut adequacy case, Sheff v. O'Neill. This was the first of the major cases challenging the adequacy of educational programs under state constitutional law. We and the state attorney general's office represented the State at trial and were able to obtain a judgment of dismissal from the trial court based on factual determinations in the State's favor, although the case was later reversed by the Supreme Court on a 4-3 vote as a result of its interpretation of the Connecticut constitution.
- St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri school desegregation cases, Jenkins v. State of Missouri, et al. and Liddell v. The Board of Education of the City of St. Louis, Mo., et al. We served as co-counsel with the state attorney general’s office in representing the State of Missouri in its successful efforts to be released from federal court supervision. Prior to our involvement, the State had paid over $2.6 billion in extraordinary desegregation funding to those two school districts.
- Michigan school desegregation case, Berry v. Benton Harbor. Along with the state attorney general's office, we represented the State and Governor of Michigan in a long-running school desegregation case involving the Benton Harbor School District. After a three-week trial, the court granted the State's motion for unitary status, resulting in a phase-out of extraordinary state funding for the districts and an end to the 35-year-old case.
- Los Angeles school desegregation case, Los Angeles NAACP, et al. v. Los Angeles Unified School District, et al. We represented the State of California, along with the state attorney general's office, in successfully getting all claims against the State dismissed.
- Other major school adequacy, funding and/or desegregation matters that we have tried, appeared or consulted in for either states, local governments or school districts include: Prince George's County, Maryland; Savannah-Chatham County, Georgia; Charleston County, South Carolina; Fulton County, Georgia; Knox County, Tennessee; DeKalb County, Georgia; Cincinnati, Dayton and Cleveland, Ohio; Madison, Wisconsin; Dallas, Texas; Wayne County, North Carolina; Darlington, South Carolina; Yonkers, New York; Palm Beach County, Florida; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and the States of Arizona, South Carolina, Texas and Ohio.
Contact: Rocco Testani 404.853.8390.
© 2013 Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP