Following an extensive trial, the remand judge found that the QEA failed to meet the Court’s 1990 ruling and recommended the law be declared unconstitutional as applied to the urban districts.
In 1994, the Supreme Court affirmed the findings and recommendation of the remand judge.
Finally, New Jersey undertook the most extensive construction program in the United States designed to ameliorate the severely deficient condition and quality of school buildings in low-wealth neighborhoods.
In 2000, the Court accepted and directly adjudicated the motion (Abbott VI) without remanding for fact finding.
In the 2002 motion (Abbott VIII), the Court reviewed the facts presented by the parties on the motion and a decision by an administrative court adjudicating requests by the urban school districts under the Abbott V process for additional preschool funding.
New Jersey was the first state to mandate early education, starting at age 3, for children “at risk” of entering kindergarten or primary school cognitively and socially behind their more advantaged peers.
The Court’s “needs-based” approach to providing supplementary programs and reforms was an unprecedented effort to target funds to initiatives designed to improve educational outcomes of low-income schoolchildren.
The case eventually made its way to the NJ Supreme Court, which, in 1985, issued the first Abbott decision (Abbott I) transferring the case to an administrative law judge for an initial hearing.
In 1990, in Abbott II, the NJ Supreme Court upheld the administrative law judge’s ruling, finding the State’s school funding law unconstitutional as applied to children in 28 “poorer urban” school districts. View the Abbott Districts The Court’s ruling directed the Legislature to amend or enact a new law to “assure” funding for the urban districts: 1) at the foundation level “substantially equivalent” to that in the successful suburban districts; and 2) “adequate” to provide for the supplemental programs necessary to address the extreme disadvantages of urban schoolchildren.Taken together, the 1997 Abbott IV and 1998 Abbott V rulings directed implementation of a comprehensive set of remedial measures, including high quality early education, supplemental programs and reforms, and school facilities improvements, to ensure an adequate and equal education for low-income schoolchildren.The Abbott remedies were strikingly detailed and comprehensive.The Court also modified several recommendations and established a unique process whereby urban districts were afforded the right to seek additional funding for supplemental programs and capital improvements if they could demonstrate the need.Districts were also afforded the right to seek administrative and judicial review of decisions by the State Education Commissioner denying requests for supplemental funds.Plaintiffs filed a cross-motion, seeking relief that included directing the State to evaluate the reforms.