Open Communities Alliance Statement on Sheff v. O’Neill Settlement
January 27, 2022
Open Communities Alliance congratulates the Sheff Plaintiffs, their counsel, and the state of Connecticut for reaching a final settlement in the Sheff v. O’Neill school desegregation case. Without the dedication and tenacity of the team that advanced Sheff, the Hartford school system would likely be as segregated today as it was when the case began in 1989. While there is much left to do to ensure that all students in Hartford have access to high performing schools and there remains a tremendous need to further and ongoing educational integration efforts in the public schools in the Hartford region, it is important to acknowledge this tremendous achievement borne out of decades of civil rights struggle.
“Cases like Sheff are daunting to undertake, hard fought, and imperative to ensure that rights enshrined in our civil rights laws and our state Constitution hold real meaning,” said Open Communities Alliance’s Executive Director Erin Boggs. “We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Sheff plaintiffs and legal team for doggedly protecting these rights."
This accomplishment also begs other important questions. First, what is the future for school systems across the state that do not get the benefit of the diversity available to many (though still by no means all) students in the Hartford region? Second, understanding that residential segregation drives school segregation, is the state of Connecticut prepared to step up and support structural changes to our housing and zoning policies so that meaningful integrative housing choices are available throughout our state without recourse to costly litigation? Lastly, going forward, how are we as a state going to provide meaningful investment and opportunities to low-income families and children in neighborhoods that have faced systematic disinvestment?
Open Communities Alliance stands ready to be a partner in developing equitable and thoughtful solutions to these challenges.