Robles-Wong v. California, No. A134424

The Youth & Education Law Project and, currently, private law firm Sheppard Mullen, are representing children and their families in a historic lawsuit that was filed on May 20, 2010 against the State of California, and entitled Robles-Wong, et al. v. State of California, case no. RG-10515768. The lawsuit, filed in superior court in Alameda County, was brought by a broad coalition comprised of over 60 individual students and their families; nine school districts from throughout the state; the California School Boards Association (CSBA); California State PTA; and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA).

Specifically, Robles-Wong asks the court to compel the State to align its school finance system – its funding policies and mechanisms – with the educational program that the State has put in place. To do this, plaintiffs allege, the State must scrap its existing finance system; do the work to determine how much it actually costs to fund public education to meet the state’s own program requirements and the needs of California’s school children; and develop and implement a new finance system consistent with Constitutional requirements. In essence, the plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the current education finance system unconstitutional and to require the state legislature to establish a school finance system that provides all California students an equal opportunity to meet the academic goals set by the state.

Plaintiffs’ initial case was bolstered by an intervening complaint, filed by the California Teachers’ Association (CTA). Afterwards, the State filed its demurrer and motion to strike the two complaints, seeking to dismiss both lawsuits, and plaintiffs filed their response. Upon conclusion of all briefing, Judge Steven Brick heard arguments for and against the demurrer on December 10, 2010 and nearly one year later, the court dismissed the case on November 3, 2011.

Plaintiffs then filed their notice of appeal on January 25, 2012 to the California Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District, Division 3, and their opening brief on July 6, 2012. The Robles-Wong matter – docketed as A134424 – will be heard together with its companion case, Campaign for Quality Education v. California, case no. A134423. Exactly three years after all briefs were filed in January 2013, the Court heard oral argument on January 27, 2016. The Court’s written opinion will issue 90 days thereafter, on or about April 27, 2016.