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Landmark Pa. school funding case decided: The state's system is unconstitutional

Maddie Hanna and Kristen A. Graham, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in News & Features

Pennsylvania’s school funding system is unconstitutional, a Commonwealth Court judge ruled Tuesday, delivering a long-awaited ruling in a landmark lawsuit brought in 2014 by school districts, parents, and advocacy groups against the state.

In a 786-page decision, Judge Renee Cohn Jubilerer said that over the course of the more than three-month trial that ended a year ago, the petitioners had demonstrated “manifest deficiencies” between low- and high-wealth districts. She said there was “no rational basis” for the disparities, which derive from Pennsylvania’s heavy reliance on local property taxes to pay for public education.

It wasn’t immediately clear what would happen next; the decision has been expected to be appealed.


“The Court is in uncharted territory with this landmark case,” Jubilerer said. “Therefore, it seems only reasonable to allow Respondents, comprised of the Executive and Legislative branches of government and administrative agencies with expertise in the field of education, the first opportunity, in conjunction with Petitioners, to devise a plan to address the constitutional deficiencies identified herein.”

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