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Eight Years of Sheff v. O'Neill

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1988

April: Parents of 4th grader Milo Sheff and 16 other students file suit against the state of Connecticut, alleging that racial and ethnic isolation in and near the Hartford schools deprives them of their educational rights guaranteed by the state constitution. The plaintiffs include black, Hispanic, and white students both from the Hartford system and its surrounding districts.

1992

December: Trial begins in state superior court.

1993

June: With trial in progress, Connecticut lawmakers approve legislation aimed at integrating the state's schools. They divide the state into 11 regions, charging officials in each with drafting and submitting a voluntary desegregation plan for approval by local school boards and municipalities.

1994

December: Although plans are drafted for all 11 regions, only three gain local approval by the end of 1994. The others are rejected.

1995

April: Superior Court Judge Henry Hammer issues 72-page decision against the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs vow to appeal.

1996

July: In a 4-3 decision, the Connecticut Supreme Court rules for Mr. Sheff and his co-plaintiffs, finding that the government bears responsibility for remedying the extreme racial and ethnic isolation around the Hartford schools. Gov. John G. Rowland announces plans to appoint a panel charged with recommending a remedy by the beginning of the legislative session in January 1997.

1997

June: Connecticut lawmakers approve desegregation legislation based, in part, on the recommendations of the governor's appointed Educational Improvement Panel. The plan is approved as an 18-year-old Mr. Sheff readies for his high school graduation.

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