BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Ingrid Knight says she was happy with her daughter's public school pre-K program, but she didn't see a future for her in the Buffalo Public School District.
"I was looking at the grades as they were going up. It was, just frankly, scary to me," she said.
She's now enrolled in Elmwood Village Charter School. It was mentioned repeatedly during arguments in the motion to dismiss Brown v. New York Thursday. The case alleges the way the state funds charter schools is unconstitutional because less money is allocated per student than to their traditional public school counterparts.
"The billion dollar school improvement project to the Buffalo Public Schools, these facilities are state-of-the-art. Why shouldn't Elmwood Village children have the same opportunities?" said Knight.
Facilities funding was a major issue in courtroom discussions. Attorneys for plaintiffs say charter schools don't have the money to spend on things like libraries and science labs, and therefore can't provide sound, basic education to students. These are features Knight says Elmwood Village is still without, despite recent renovations.
A state's attorney says students rights include having enough light, heat, space, and air to learn. She pointed to Elmwood's renovations as an example of a school finding a way to improve facilities and seeing high student scores. She said charter school students and parents can't claim a difference in education since they also have the option to attend public schools, but some say that's not really a choice.
"Who would choose failing? Who would choose failing for their children?" asked Knight.
The state also argued parents knew what they were getting into funding-wise when they signed their children up to charter schools, but plaintiff attorneys say this doesn't mean they thought it was constitutional. They also say they're not necessarily asking for funding to be taken away from public schools.
"It would be their money, if you will, if they had stayed at public schools, traditional public schools. We're saying that the fact they went to charter schools shouldn't be a denial of those funds to them," said Susan Dwyer, lead attorney for the plaintiffs.
The justice hearing the motion to dismiss reserved judgment, meaning plaintiffs will have a bit of a wait before they know if they'll get to argue their point in court.
The Attorney General's Office had no comment at this point in the case.