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Landmark agreement reached in eliminating desegregation of Hartford students in surrounding districts

HARTFORD – It was a historic day for Connecticut on Friday. After decades of back and forth on improving education for Hartford’s children, an agree...
HARTFORD - It was a historic day for Connecticut on Friday.
After decades of back and forth on improving education for Hartford's children, an agreement was finally reached in the Sheff v. O'Neill case, one that dates back to 1989.
Some students from Hartford already attend outside magnet schools or other districts in the suburbs and this agreement would expand that.
"We are here to announce that the state of Connecticut has reached an agreement with the plaintiffs in the Sheff versus O’Neill case," said Attorney General William Tong.
This case is against the State of Connecticut to address the racial and economic segregation of students in Hartford and its surrounding towns.

Elizabeth Horton Sheff, the main player in the lawsuit has fought for years to provide equal education for children in urban communities.

"The education of our children which actually means the future of our state and our nation," said the plaintiff, Sheff.

In 1989, her son Milo was a fourth grade student in Hartford.
She and ten other families fought to end the inequity between Hartford schools and the suburban districts.

Sheff told FOX61 her fight finally paid off.

"We are committed to staying at the table and working on behalf of the Children’s constitutional right to quality, integrated education," added Sheff.

As a result, over one-thousand new magnet school seats including a new middle school at Riverside Magnet.
600 of these seats are for students from Hartford.
Among other funding, the state allocated 1.1 million dollars for magnet schools to develop new themes to have more diverse students.

State leaders in the future says this could be applied across Connecticut.

"I think the rest of the state were inspired by this case and what we’re seeing is successful here in Hartford. We’re going to take around the rest of the state," said Governor Ned Lamont.

"This agreement begins in a historic and meaningful way to resolve 30 years of litigation and to resolve one of the most important and complex cases," said Attorney General William Tong.

This agreement impacted all generations, including grandmother and community activist Hyacinth Yennie.
Yennie wanted more of a focus on Hartford schools so students can thrive in their own city.

"Our superintendent should be the person that’s out there making sure we have quality, pushing to have quality, show parents that there is quality within our system so they don’t want to send their kids somewhere else," said Yennie of Hartford.

Yennie's daughter, also a magnet school teacher feared teachers in other regions are not equipped to work with students of diverse backgrounds.

"It concerns me that some of the teachers that are working with our students come in with implicit biases and they don’t understand our students and automatically judge the," said Melissa Yennie-St. Juste of Hartford.

The agreement will only last until 2022.
Once it ends, a long-term plan will have to be implemented in continuing this mission.