Improving Education for All

On May 17, 2000, the ACLU, along with other civil rights organizations, filed a lawsuit against the state of California because of the terrible conditions in many of its public schools.

Parents, students and teachers argued that the state is failing to provide thousands of public school students, particularly those in low-income communities and communities of color, with the basic necessities required for an education.

They argued that the state’s failure to provide these bare minimum necessities to all public school students in California violates the state constitution, as well as state and federal requirements that all students be given equal access to public education, without regard to race, color, or national origin.

In August 2004, a settlement (legal agreement) was announced. The settlement requires that all students have books and that their schools be safe and clean and it takes steps to make sure that students have qualified teachers. The settlement provided nearly $1 billion to accomplish these goals.

All public school students, parents, and teachers are affected by this settlement.

The ACLU is fighting to improve educational equality for all. Find out how you can help.

1. Know Your Rights!
2. File a complaint!
3. Get more information!

Filing a complaint? Send us a copy!

Possible Reasons for Filing a Complaint (examples only, not an exhaustive list):

Insufficient textbooks or instructional materials(for example, you don’t have a book to use in class, or you have to share a book; you don’t have a book to use at home for homework; your book is in poor condition, missing pages, or so damaged that you can’t read it)

  • Emergency or urgent facilities conditions that pose a threat to health and safety (for example, the heating, ventilation, fire sprinklers or air-conditioning systems don’t work; the school is infested with rats or other pests and vermin; windows are broken; buildings are damaged, creating a hazardous or uninhabitable condition)
  • Teacher vacancies or misassignments (for example, the semester begins and a permanent teacher is not assigned to it; a teacher is assigned to teach a class without a fluency in its subject matter; a teacher lacks credentials or training)

If you file a complaint, please send us a copy, and we will help make sure you receive follow-up!

ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
P.O. Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131

Want to help?
Fill out our survey! Help us track whether California’s schools are posting the required parent notices in classrooms as well as have complaint forms available on site.

For general information, call our toll-free hotline:

1-877-532-2533
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Important Links:

San Diego County Office of Education

Education Data Partnership Profiles of California’s public schools