Law firm drops out of school finance suit

Lathrop & Gage says its contract with the state has expired

? The private law firm that has been defending the state in the school finance lawsuit has dropped out of the case.

Lathrop & Gage filed motions to withdraw as counsel of record for the state in both federal court and before the Kansas Supreme Court.

The law firm said its contract with the office of Atty. Gen. Phill Kline had expired July 1. Kline’s office said it would issue a news release on the matter later today.

Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, and an attorney with Lathrop & Gage, said partners in the firm on the case “just thought it was a good time to move on to other things.”

The school finance lawsuit is pending before the state Supreme Court.

In 2005, the court declared the state’s method of funding schools unconstitutional because it shortchanged all students, especially those in low-income areas.

The Legislature adopted a $290 million increase last year, and a three-year $466 million plan this year. The court heard arguments on that last plan in June, and is expected to render a decision soon.