April 1989: Elizabeth Horton Sheff and other parents file the lawsuit against then-Governor William A. O’Neill, on behalf of their children.
July 1996: The State Supreme Court rules that the racial and socioeconomic isolation of Hartford school children violates the state constitution but sets no goal, remedy, or timetable to resolve the problem.
Spring 1997: The Legislature passes a 3-part response to the Sheff v. O’Neill decision, including: 1) a five-year state takeover of the struggling Hartford school system; 2) a major new commitment to early childhood education throughout the state; and 3) the basic structure of the current two-way, voluntary integration program, including a new regional magnet school system and an expanded interdistrict transfer program to be known as “Project Choice” and, eventually, “Open Choice.”
February 2003: The House of Representatives votes 87-60 to approve an out-of-court settlement in the Sheff v. O’Neill case, which includes plans for eight new integrated magnet schools in Hartford.
Early 2008: The state and plaintiffs agree to a new five-year “Phase 2” settlement that calls for expanded regional magnet schools and use of Project Choice to expand access to quality, integrated education.
April 2013: The parties adopt a one-year, court-ordered stipulation that gives the state an additional year to reach the 2012-13 goal that 41% of Hartford minority children be in “reduced isolation settings.”
Fall 2013: The state releases data showing positive achievement outcomes for Hartford students attending regional magnet schools and the Open Choice program. The 2012-13 integration goal of 41% is achieved.
December 2013: The parties announce a one-year “Phase 3” settlement, which increases the number of magnet school seats and seeks to expand Open Choice, while allocating funds to strengthen a Hartford neighborhood “lighthouse” school.
November 2014 (expected): Negotiations for a Phase 4 settlement are underway, with an agreement expected in November 2014.