Harrisburg, PA – July 24, 2023 − “Time is up! No more delays; no more stalling. We must do right by our students and begin immediately to address the court order to adequately and equitably fund our public schools,” said State Senator Vincent Hughes, following the announcement that the Respondents in the school funding case — the Pennsylvania House of Representative’s Republican Caucus and the Senate of Pennsylvania’s Republican caucus – are not appealing the Feb. 7, 2023, Commonwealth Court ruling declaring Pennsylvania public school funding system unconstitutional.
The deadline to file an appeal in the case was 5pm on Friday, July 21, 2023.
“By accepting Commonwealth Court Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer’s Feb. 7 ruling – that the General Assembly is violating Pennsylvania’s Constitution by not providing a “thorough and efficient” system of public education – the Republican leaders in the General Assembly must now join with us to address the court order,” said Sen. Hughes.
“All witnesses agree that every child can learn. It is now the obligation of the Legislature, Executive Branch, and educators, to make the constitutional promise a reality in this Commonwealth,” wrote Judge Jubelirer in her 786-page ruling.
“We’ve seen decades of underfunding in our public schools, and we cannot wait any longer to correct that legacy of disinvestment. We already have a funding commission in place. I urge my Republican colleagues to convene those meetings at once, so we can do the work to provide resources for our public schools,” Sen. Hughes said.
The case William Penn School District et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Education et al. was filed in 2014 by six Pennsylvania school districts (William Penn, Greater Johnstown, Lancaster, Panther Valley, Shenandoah Valley, and Wilkes-Barre Area), the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, the NAACP-PA State Conference, and a group of public school parents.
They filed suit in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court against state legislative leaders, state education officials, and the governor for failing to uphold the General Assembly’s constitutional obligation to provide a “thorough and efficient” system of public education. Petitioners also assert that the massive inequality this system fuels between poor and wealthy school districts discriminates against students in low-wealth communities, violating their right to equal protection in the state Constitution.