Whitmer announces late night settlement in Detroit right to literacy case

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has agreed to a settlement with Detroit students locked in a nearly four year legal battle with the state for better school and learning conditions. 

Whitmer announced the settlement shortly after midnight Thursday with a promise for more details of the settlement later in the day regarding access for Detroit students “who faced obstacles they never should have faced.”

“This landmark court decision recognizes that every child in Michigan deserves an opportunity to obtain an education, which is essential to having a strong foundation in life and a brighter future,” Whitmer said. 

In a court filing late Wednesday, attorneys for Whitmer and the students notified the clerk of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that a settlement has been reached that “resolves all of Plaintiffs’ claims against all Defendants, and thus fully resolves this matter. The Plaintiffs will shortly file with the Court a motion to dismiss this action in its entirety as moot.”

As recently as Wednesday, protesters had urged the governor to reach a settlement in the case, which sought a historic court order ruling students have a constitutional right to literacy. 

The lawsuit was brought by seven Detroit students in 2016 who argued they were deprived access to literacy because of a lack of books, teachers and poor building conditions. 

On April 23, a federal appeals court panel ruled the U.S. Constitution provides a remedy to “children relegated to a school system that does not provide even a plausible chance to attain literacy.”

Earlier this month, the Michigan Legislature had asked the full appeals court to set aside the ruling by the three-judge panel and hear the case due to its “exceptional importance.”

The lawsuit has been closely been watched by education, legal and civil rights experts, some of whom have said it would end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

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