On March 16, 1996 the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York issued an emergency order enjoining New York’s Department of Education from enforcing a policy requiring New York City charter and quasi-charter schools to allow all students, regardless of income, race, or religion, to attend the charter school. Specifically, the court held that New York City Charter schools could not “require enrollment of children who could reasonably be regarded as ‘undeserving children because of their race, religion, or national origin'” without the express waiver of the federal constitutional rights of parents to use parental choice in education. On April 16, 1996, the New York City Charter school Board of Trustees’ adopted the new, more stringent, charter school admission requirements, which included “a determination of students’ demonstrated ability to learn and to succeed in a regular public school.”
The lawsuit challenged the policy, which had not yet been implemented in New York City after the New Yorkers for Public Education (NEPA) had been established in 1993. It was asserted that the policy violates the Fourteenth and Fourteenth Amendments and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The suit then focused on the New York City Charter Schools Law, the school admission policy, and the school’s right to adopt a policy that does not discriminate on the basis of sex.
On June 12, 1996, in his opinion for the Court, Senior Judge John C. K. Jackson rejected the Charter School Board’s contention that “the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the First Amendment forbid such measures.” The Charter School Law and its application to the New York City charter schools were “legally meaningless and constitutionally invalid.” Jackson also found that the policy adopted in the context “of a national crisis in public education is constitutionally invalid.”
A few weeks later, the charter school board and the New York City Charter board appealed the injunction enjoined by the District Court to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
On July 20, 1996, the Third Circuit heard oral argument on the district court’s order against New York City and sought to answer the questions posed by the charter school district. The plaintiffs, in their briefs, argued that their students had suffered harm, as a result of the Charter School Law. They also argued that the District Court misapplied the Eighth Amendment. They asserted that the “choice” provisions of the Charter School Law, by prohibiting a public policy “which is so fundamental a part of public education as a matter
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