The ACLU and the Education Law Center say the state violated open records laws last year when it refused to disclose the identities of volunteers who helped assess applications for new charter schools.
Charter schools are funded with taxpayer money and licensed by the state, but they operate outside of local school districts.
Education Law Center Executive Director David Sciarra says the schools and the process for evaluating them should be open to the public.
A spokesman for the state Education Department did not immediately return a call. But the state administration generally does not comment on lawsuits filed against it.