Appeals Court Won’t Re-Hear Detroit Schools “Right to Literacy” Case

The court vacated its original ruling supporting a constitutional right to a basic education, but now won’t rehear the case, leaving the settlement standing without an established right.

Empty classroom

Photo Credit: Laura Herberg, WDET

A federal court will not re-hear a case concerning a right to a basic education, it ruled Wednesday, a convoluted conclusion to a closely-watched lawsuit. 

The ruling concerns Detroit Public Schools students who sued the state of Michigan over conditions in the schools while under state control. Over the course of several weeks, the lawsuit underwent a series of developments, leading to a settlement from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Now, because of the settlement, the full court ruled it will not hear the case again, concluding the legal saga.

But the challenge from the court majority means the ruling did not establish a constitutional right to a basic education — although it could not reverse its earlier arguments in favor of one.

While the court’s initial arguments supporting a “right to literacy” stand as the opinion of the court, the ruling remains vacated, establishing no strong precedent. 

The court’s argument can still be cited in future cases.

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  • Sascha Raiyn
    Sascha Raiyn is Education Reporter at 101.9 WDET. She is a native Detroiter who grew up listening to news and music programming on Detroit Public Radio.