Williams v. State, Super. Ct. San Francisco County (settled August 2004).

Several advocacy organizations filed this class action in May 1999, alleging inadequate conditions in schools throughout the state and seeking an order requiring the state to ensure the provision of educational basics such as qualified teachers, safe facilities, and textbooks. The case was settled in August 2004. The terms require the state to (1) provide $800 million for school repairs and $139 million for instructional materials, (2) create a school facilities needs assessment program, (3) create standards for instructional materials and facilities, and (4) eliminate the staggered and shortened school year by 2012. Notice of Settlement and other information available online at the California Department of Education Website @

Butt v. State of California, 842 P.2d 1240 (Cal. 1992).

The California Supreme Court ruled that the state was responsible for the fundamental educational rights of students and that the state must take action to address a local district's inability to provide an education basically equivalent to that provided by other districts in the state. In so ruling, the Court stated that the California State Constitution makes public education “a fundamental concern of the State and prohibits maintenance and operation of the common public school system in a way which denies basic educational equality to the students of particular districts. The State itself bears the ultimate authority and responsibility to ensure that its district-based system of common schools provides basic equality of educational opportunity.”842 P.2d at 1251.

California Teachers Ass’n v. Hayes, 7 Cal. Rptr. 2d 699 (Cal. App. 3d Dist. 1992), review denied 1992 Cal. LEXIS 3957.

The Court upheld the state legislative action to include child care funding in the calculation of minimum education funding, rejecting the claim that such action was beyond the Legislature's constitutional authority. The Court noted that the Legislature had "explained its purpose for including child care and development funds in the . . . funding guarantee," by stating, among other things, "the Legislature has stated its intent that early childhood education and child development programs be a 'concomitant part of the educational system' by providing young children an equal opportunity for later school success." 7 Cal. Rptr. 2d at 703 n.3.

Serrano v. Priest, 200 Cal. App. 3d 897 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 1986).

The California appellate court upheld the state school funding system under an equal protection challenge, finding that wealth-related disparities between school districts had been reduced to insignificance.

Serrano v. Priest, 5 Cal. 3d 584, 487 P.2d 1241 (Cal. 1971) (“Serrano I”).

The California Supreme Court ruled that the state’s property-tax-based school finance system was unconstitutional, stating that “[T]he California public school financing system, … as presently constituted is not necessary to the attainment of any compelling state interest. Since it does not withstand the requisite ‘strict scrutiny,’ it denies to the plaintiffs and others similarly situated the equal protection of the laws.”5 Cal. 3d at 614-15, 487 P.2d at 1263.

Serrano v. Priest, 18 Cal. 3d 728, 557 P.2d 929 (Cal. 1976) (“Serrano II”).

The California Supreme Court ruled that “the school financing system…has been shown … to involve a suspect classification … and … that classification affects the fundamental interest of the students of this state in education.” It stated, “the system denied state equal protection provisions under the state constitution.” 18 Cal. 3d at 766, 557 P.2d at 951.