ACLU seeks enforcement of order to increase funding for city schools

September 30, 2004|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland asked a judge yesterday to enforce a court order seeking an immediate increase in funding for Baltimore schools.

The ACLU, which represents students' interests in a decade-old lawsuit over the funding of city schools, told Baltimore Circuit Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan that school and government officials are not making a "real effort" to comply with his ruling last month.

The ruling found that the school system's plan to quickly recover from a $58 million budget deficit was harming students, and ordered government and school officials to find an additional $30 million to $45 million to spend in the classroom.

But the state declined to comply, saying it disagrees with Kaplan's opinion that the state has underfunded the city schools. It plans to appeal the ruling. The city and its school system submitted reports to Kaplan saying they could do nothing without increased state funding.

"The kids have been back in school for a month now," said Beth McCallum, an attorney for the ACLU. "His order has been out there for almost six weeks. If you get too far along in the school year, it's going to be too late for the funds to benefit these kids."

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