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Litigating the Right to a Minimally Adequate Education in East St. Louis, Illinois

By Susan Wishnick & Adam Schwartz

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois is setting precedent by contending for the plaintiffs in Lewis E. v. Spagnolo that the state's schoolchildren have a right to a minimally adequate education. Instead of challenging funding legislation–once the basis for attacking deplorable school conditions–plaintiffs find authority for the "minimally adequate education" assertion in the federal and state constitutions, Illinois's school code and regulations, and the state's common-law requirement that landowners remedy dangerous conditions on their property.

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