God save your majesty!
I thank you, good people—there shall be no money; all shall eat
and drink on my score, and I will apparel them all in one livery,
that they may agree like brothers, and worship me their lord.
The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.
Nay, that I mean to do.
Henry The Sixth, Part 2 Act 4, scene 2
That quote brings us to suing states and localities because they fail to fully fund education. In Do I See A Lawsuit, Not Russia From My Front Porch For Your School District? Yes. I said:
Rosalind Rossi is reporting in the Chicago Tribune article, Chicago Teachers Union to Sue Over Class Size
The teachers have apparently overcome the general aversion to lawyers and hired a few to sue. This suit is based upon a specific code section. No doubt enough lawyers will be able to find some specific code section in your town. The article claims that this is the first actual law suit of its kind although a Florida legislator proposed suing that state in 2005. Kimberly Miller of the Palm Beach Post reported in the article, Official Tells the Schools to Sue on Class Size that Representative Meeks advised districts to sue. The Catalyst Notebook has a good description of the lawsuit.
We Seattleites have already been to court these past few months. The Washington State Constitution makes education the paramount duty of the state. See, Kristin Fraser’s presentation, The State Constitution and School Funding: What Policy Makers Need to Know Talk about some pesky little code provision which must be obeyed, folks in Washington have the Washington Constitution.
So, when it comes to going to court, Washingtonians have been there, done that. Still waiting for some solution to kick in.
Education Lawyers.Com has a good synopsis of the types of litigation around education issues at Education Lawsuits in the News
Chicago Teachers Sue: They say it is the first, I bet it won’t be the last
Nina Shapiro has an article in the Seattle Weekly which speculated about another lawsuit regarding Washington’s inadequate funding of education. See, Will There Be Another Lawsuit About Washington’s Inadequate Funding of Schools? and Alert: Shadow School Board Files Appeal of District’s Decision to Adopt MAP Testing Program
Sam Dillion is reporting in the New York Times about more school litigation. In Public Schools Face Lawsuit Over Fees Dillion reports:
Now a civil liberties group is suing California over those proliferating fees, arguing that the state has failed to protect the right to a free public education. Experts said it was the first case of its kind, and could tempt parents in other states to file similar suits.
In the suit, to be filed in a state court in Los Angeles on Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California names 35 school districts across California that list on their Web sites the fees their schools charge for courses including art, home economics and music, for Advanced Placement tests and for materials including gym uniforms.
“We found that the charging of fees for required academic courses is rampant,” said Mark Rosenbaum, the A.C.L.U.’s legal director in Southern California. The suit names two anonymous plaintiffs, both students attending high schools in Orange County; their parents also declined to be identified.
But other parents have been speaking out about the fees. Sally Smith, who has put three children through public schools in San Diego, including a daughter who is a high school senior there, said she has watched fees for uniforms and to participate in team sports rise for years. “All these fees were really taking a bite out of our budget, and our children lost the opportunity to participate in a lot of activities because we couldn’t afford them,” Ms. Smith said.
Since the late 1970s, courts in nearly every state have seen lawsuits arguing for education equity between rich and poor districts. And since the 1990s, lawyers representing low-income students have filed a string of so-called educational adequacy suits, arguing that states have not allotted enough money to provide an adequate public education, said Michael P. Griffith, a school finance analyst at the Education Commission of the States, a nonpartisan research center based in Denver.
“What’s new here is that this is not about funding levels for education, but about whether districts are charging kids to get a public education,” Mr. Griffith said. “That’s a brand-new argument. I wouldn’t be surprised to see groups in other states adopt the same line of reasoning.”
In San Diego, one of the cities whose school system is cited in the suit, a grand jury investigated similar reports this year and concluded that the fees were prohibited under California law. Nonetheless, the grand jury said in a June report, “Student fees are charged in almost all district schools.”
It listed examples: $1,833 for the cheerleading program at one San Diego high school, $180 for water polo at another high school and $400 for the wrestling program at a third school.
Mark Bresee, the general counsel for San Diego Unified School District, said in an interview that after some parents complained about the fees last year, he looked into it and concluded that some schools were indeed assessing improper charges. Mr. Bresee said he has tried to clarify the rules for the district’s 180 schools.
Washington has a definition of basic education which it should be fully funding. It is Not. Some folks are finding lawyers are useful in some circumstances.
Alert: State Not Funding Basic Education
Governor Has Questions About Judge’s Ruling on Education Funding
Can We Afford to Rescue Failing Schools, Can We Afford Not To?
School Levy Inequity Is a Bad Idea
Update: School Levy Inequity Is a Bad Idea
Dr. Wilda may be contacted at drwil[email protected]
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