Surprising facts about the landmark Connecticut desegregation case Sheff v. O'Neill:
Though considered a Hartford case, four of the 18 young plaintiffs were from the suburbs — two from Glastonbury and two from West Hartford. The idea was that suburban children also benefit from an integrated education.
Milo Sheff, the lead plaintiff, was a fourth-grader at Annie Fisher Elementary School in Hartford when the case was filed. He is now 35 and the father of two.
Attorney Wesley Horton, a member of the Sheff legal team, also brought the well-known Horton v. Meskill case in the 1970s to equalize school funding.
The dissenting opinion in the 1996 state Supreme Court case agreed that racial and ethnic segregation in the Hartford school system was harmful, but disagreed with the majority on constitutional grounds.
Some charter schools present a dilemma in the Sheff context — they are successful but almost entirely minority. The Sheff plaintiffs would like to see them racially integrated.
Though his name is forever linked with Sheff, Gov. William O'Neill left office in 1990, the year after the case was filed, and had little to do with it.