February 20, 2024
Media Contact: Sumeet Bal, Director of Communications,, 917.647.1952
Read the demand letter here


Civil Rights Law Firm, Community Organizations Demand State End Unconstitutional, Unfair School Bond Funding Before Statewide Ballot Measure This Year; Legal Action Threatened

San Francisco–Public Advocates, a non-profit civil rights law firm, pro bono counsel Goodwin Proctor LLP, and impacted students, families, residents, and grassroots community organizations will speak at a virtual press conference tomorrow, Wednesday February 20, 2024, before sending a demand letter on behalf of the aforementioned complainants to the governor, and various state officials and agencies, urging them to end grossly unequal and unconstitutional disparities in California’s school facility funding program. The current program to fund school modernization is unconstitutional because it discriminates among districts on the basis of local wealth, leaving students and staff in lower-wealth districts in unequal, outdated, unsuitable, and in some cases, unsafe facilities. The letter outlines reforms that state leadership should use immediately to create a revised equitable funding structure that supports districts most in need. The law firms warn of legal action should California’s leadership fail to correct its discriminatory modernization program in advance of an anticipated multi-billion dollar November 2024 state bond measure.



Nicole Gon Ochi, Public Advocates, Deputy Managing Attorney
John Affeldt, Public Advocates, Managing Attorney for the Education Equity Team
Briannon “Brie” Fraley, Del Norte Unified School District Parent, Citizen of Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation, True North Organizing Network Parent Leader
Dr. Gary Hardie, Jr., Lynwood resident, alumni of Lynwood Unified School District (LUSD), and LUSD Board Member
Dr. Gudiel Crosthwaite, LUSD Superintendent
Dr. Summer Prather-Smith, Director of Parent and Family Engagement and School Climate, Santa Rita Union School District
Alma Cervantes, Director of Education Equity and Justice, Building Healthy Communities – Monterey
Angel Orozco, San Gorgonio High School Class of ‘23 (San Bernardino City Unified School District), ICUC Youth Leader
John Ray, Superintendent/Principal, Weed Union Elementary School District
Neel Chatterjee, Goodwin, Intellectual Property Partner

What: Complainants and attorneys will share their stories and evidence at a virtual press conference to explain why California’s system of public school facility funding is discriminatory, inequitable, and maintains an unconstitutional status quo—giving more money to wealthier districts who already have financial advantages over lower wealth neighborhoods and communities—followed by a Q&A for members of the press.

When: Wednesday February 21, 2024 at 9:00 am

Where: Virtual Press Conference on Zoom. View the recording here.

Why: School facilities matter. Studies show that school facilities impact student engagement, learning, school climate, and health. School modernization needs are considerable across the state with the last state bond passed in 2016. School facility modernization needs disproportionately impact low-income communities of color who historically have had less resources to modernize their facilities and, as such, often disproportionately experience greater levels of disrepair.

California’s current system of funding school facility modernization projects is based on district wealth. Not only do lower-wealth school districts have less access to local capital compared to their wealthier neighbors, but they also have less access to state modernization funding because the system is structured to provide all districts with a 60% state match. Thus, wealthy districts who have larger local shares receive substantially more from the state. Districts with lower capital spending and smaller tax bases report higher levels of facility deficiencies, which directly impacts the quality of education. The result is a discriminatory system in which students in lower-wealth districts receive an education inferior to that of their peers in higher-wealth districts in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution.

Complainants are calling on state leadership to take immediate action to remedy this unconstitutional school facility funding system and significantly modify the state’s modernization program during the current legislative term in advance of the November bond measure or face legal action.


Public Advocates Inc. is a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination by strengthening community voices in public policy and achieving tangible legal victories advancing education, housing, transportation equity, and climate justice.

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