SAN FRANCISCO - A California State Superior Court today handed a substantial victory to the coalition of civil rights groups that are fighting to reform California's failed and inequitable school system in the landmark, statewide education lawsuit, Williams v. State of California, filed last May. The State earlier filed a smokescreen cross-complaint, in which the State attempted to blame individual school districts rather than acknowledge any responsibility for its own system, and today the Court severed that suit from Williams v State of California and put off any proceedings on it until Williams is decided.

"This is a tremendous victory for plaintiffs," said John Affeldt of Public Advocates, Inc., who argued the motion. "Today the Judge removed the State's case against the districts from our case and prevented that case from proceeding. Now we will be focusing exclusively on the State's failure to establish an effective system of oversight which delivers fundamental educational tools to students in the state."

"The Judge's order," said Michael Jacobs, a partner at Morrison & Foerster, pro bono co-counsel in the case, "will allow school children to get the real relief they need as quickly as possible without a needless finger-pointing exercise against school districts that cannot themselves do what the state should have done in the first instance."

"The State tried to pass the buck to school districts," said Catherine Lhamon, staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California, "but the Judge put the buck right back where it belongs - in the lap of the state."

The Court also denied the State's motion for summary judgment on a group of plaintiffs from Cloverdale, whose classrooms routinely reach unbearably high temperatures.