Michigan attorneys want court to drop literacy lawsuit

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Back in September, a group of Detroit schoolchildren sued Michigan education officials and Gov. Rick Snyder, claiming they were being denied their right to literacy.

Now attorneys for the state are asking the court to drop the lawsuit, claiming the students have no such fundamental right.

See images from the protests:

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Detroit students sue Michigan education officials
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Detroit students sue Michigan education officials
DETROIT, MI - MAY 3: Ivy Bailey, interim President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, participates in a Detroit teachers sick-out, the second in the past two days, and protests in front of Detroit Public Schools headquarters, May 3, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The sick-out forced the closing of 94 of 97 Detroit school districts today. The teachers are looking for a guarantee that they will be paid for the work they perform. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - MAY 3: Detroit teachers stage a sick-out for the second day in a row and protest in front of Detroit Public Schools headquarters, causing 94 of the 97 Detroit school districts to close, May 3, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The teachers are looking for a guarantee that they will be paid for the work they perform. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - MAY 3: Detroit teachers stage a sick-out for the second day in a row and protest in front of Detroit Public Schools headquarters, causing 94 of the 97 Detroit school districts to close, May 3, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The teachers are looking for a guarantee that they will be paid for the work they perform. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - MAY 3: Detroit teachers stage a sick-out for the second day in a row and protest in front of Detroit Public Schools headquarters, causing 94 of the 97 Detroit school districts to close, May 3, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The teachers are looking for a guarantee that they will be paid for the work they perform. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - MAY 3: Detroit teachers stage a sick-out for the second day in a row and protest in front of Detroit Public Schools headquarters, causing 94 of the 97 Detroit school districts to close, May 3, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The teachers are looking for a guarantee that they will be paid for the work they perform. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - MAY 3: Detroit teachers stage a sick-out for the second day in a row and protest in front of Detroit Public Schools headquarters, causing 94 of the 97 Detroit school districts to close, May 3, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The teachers are looking for a guarantee that they will be paid for the work they perform. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - MAY 3: Detroit teachers stage a sick-out for the second day in a row and protest in front of Detroit Public Schools headquarters, causing 94 of the 97 Detroit school districts to close, May 3, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The teachers are looking for a guarantee that they will be paid for the work they perform. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - MAY 3: Barbara Maxwell of Novi, Michigan, a teacher at Detroit's Earhart Elementary Middle School, participates in a Detroit teachers sick-out, the second in the past two days, and protests in front of Detroit Public Schools headquarters, May 3, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The sick-out forced the closing of 94 of 97 Detroit school districts today. The teachers are looking for a guarantee that they will be paid for the work they perform. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - MAY 3: Detroit teachers stage a sick-out for the second day in a row and protest in front of Detroit Public Schools headquarters, causing 94 of the 97 Detroit school districts to close, May 3, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The teachers are looking for a guarantee that they will be paid for the work they perform. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - MAY 3: Detroit teachers stage a sick-out for the second day in a row and protest in front of Detroit Public Schools headquarters, causing 94 of the 97 Detroit school districts to close, May 3, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The teachers are looking for a guarantee that they will be paid for the work they perform. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - MAY 3: Detroit teachers stage a sick-out for the second day in a row and protest in front of Detroit Public Schools headquarters, causing 94 of the 97 Detroit school districts to close, May 3, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The teachers are looking for a guarantee that they will be paid for the work they perform. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - MAY 3: Detroit teachers stage a sick-out for the second day in a row and protest in front of Detroit Public Schools headquarters, causing 94 of the 97 Detroit school districts to close, May 3, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The teachers are looking for a guarantee that they will be paid for the work they perform. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
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A California public counsel law firm is representing the kids. The full complaint accuses the state of Michigan of "systemic, persistent and deliberate failure to deliver instruction and tools essential for access to literacy in Plaintiffs' schools." It says the state is depriving students — the majority of which are low-income students of color — of "a fighting chance."

"I'm getting cheated, like I'm getting cheated out of education, like I'm not getting the same opportunity as everybody else," student Jamarria Hall told Newsy's partner WXYZ.

The Detroit public school district ranks last when it comes to literacy among major school districts in large U.S. cities.

SEE MORE: Schools Nationwide Face Tight Budgets — In Detroit, Teachers Go Unpaid

The students and their attorneys cite the 14th Amendment and the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education as evidence that literacy should be a constitutional right.

But an assistant attorney general for Michigan claims the students' complaints go beyond basic access to education and says the state hasn't been in control of Detroit's school since 1999.

The schools have been under a state-appointed financial manager since 2009.

The students' lawsuit also addresses poor conditions in Detroit's schools — something that's been plaguing the city's public school system all year.

In January, teachers districtwide called in sick to work to protest the awful conditions present in some schools.

SEE MORE: Court Rules Detroit Teachers' 'Sickouts' Were Legal

Certain schools in the district are so bad that teachers worry the schools are making them, and their students, sick.

Around the same time as the protest, Detroit's schools were facing a debt crisis — a debt that would fall on the state's shoulders if the city had to file for bankruptcy.

The lawsuit calls on the state to monitor and fix those conditions in order to give students greater access to learning.

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