The Supreme Judicial Court unanimously affirmed the dismissal of Doe v. Peyser, a lawsuit in which five Boston public school students sought to have the Court declare the Massachusetts statutory cap on charter schools unconstitutional. In its ruling, the Court agreed with state officials defending the cap and several amici– including students of color, students with disabilities, English language learners and several civil rights organizations – that the lawsuit failed to state a claim for relief under the Education Clause or the Equal Protection Clause of the Massachusetts Constitution.
The Court concluded that the plaintiffs could not show that the state, in establishing the charter school cap, had failed to fulfill its constitutional duty to educate its students, or that the cap reflected an irrational or arbitrary allocation of scarce education resources. “There is no constitutional entitlement to attend a charter school,” the Court said. The Court also emphasized that a majority of Massachusetts voters, including those in the plaintiffs’ own school district, had rejected a ballot measure that would have expanded the number of charter schools in the state, and that the “Constitution demands respect for the products of the democratic process.”