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Archive for Thursday, January 21, 2010

Attorney General asks court to reject efforts by school districts to reopen school finance lawsuit

High court advised to reject districts’ attempt to reopen litigation

January 21, 2010, 5:28 p.m. Updated January 21, 2010, 11:29 p.m.

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— The Kansas attorney general asked the state Supreme Court on Thursday to reject an attempt by school districts to reopen litigation over state funding.

The districts make up the group Schools for Fair Funding, which filed a motion with the Kansas Supreme Court last week. The motion argues the state is out of compliance with the court’s 2006 ruling that forced the state to increase funding for public schools by $1 billion.

Attorney General Steve Six argues in a 14-page document that lawyers for 74 school districts are trying to get around a 2005 law that slows down such cases.

Six said that law requires the Legislature to be given notice 120 days before plaintiffs can file a lawsuit over school funding. The law also requires the case to be heard by a three-judge panel.

“This unprecedented motion is an attempt to evade the new procedures,” Six wrote. “Inasmuch as plaintiffs seem to allege a constitutional violation beginning in 2009 and want a new trial in the district court, and nothing from this court but an order sending them there, there can be no other explanation.”

John Robb, attorney for the school districts, said the group is asking the court to reopen the case because it is cheaper and quicker for all parties than filing a new lawsuit. The original case was filed in 1999 by the parents of Ryan Montoy, a student in the Salina school district.

“I don’t think that law applies if the court agrees to reopen and finish the Montoy case,” Robb said. “But that’s a decision that will be left up to the court to decide.”

Robb plans to file a response to the Six document.

Education funding has been reduced during the past year as the state has faced declining revenues. The school districts argue the cuts hurt the quality of education. Six said in his reply that Kansas has experienced “dramatic changes” that have forced the state to reduce government spending to meet its constitutional obligation to have a balanced budget.

“Economic calamity and resulting state budget reductions cannot be the basis for opening up a case first filed in 1999 and dismissed by this court in 2006,” Six wrote. “Kansans understand that no one is immune from funding cuts, and what is ‘suitable’ in good times may be different than when times are not so good.”

In their motion to the Supreme Court, the schools cited a school finance case in Arkansas that was dismissed but later reopened by that state’s Supreme Court after legislators reneged on promises to increase funding. Robb argues a similar situation exists in Kansas.

The Kansas Supreme Court dismissed the Montoy case in 2006 but didn’t rule whether changes made to the Kansas school finance formula or levels of funding were constitutional. The justices said any new challenge to the school funding formula would have to come in a new lawsuit filed in district court.

Comments

Alexander Neighbors 4 years, 11 months ago

hahaha so so funny.... push hard for new laws to "protect children" but when it comes to protecting their education screw that he doesn't want to pay for some poor kid to get a better education than his children's private school

kugrad 4 years, 11 months ago

Kansas Law also says that the State of Kansas must pay for the excess costs of special education in the public schools. Despite this statue, year in and year out the State of KS fails to pay disticts this money. Perhaps Six should spend some of his energy actually enforcing the law instead of making up things as he goes along to reinforce his credentials among the right wing in Topeka.

commuter 4 years, 11 months ago

KUgrad- can you provide a source for your claim?? Do you or a family member work as an administrator for the district?

Charles L Bloss Jr 4 years, 11 months ago

Uh Oh, more legislation from the liberal judiciary. Thank you, Lynn

kugrad 4 years, 11 months ago

Commuter, First of all, this is KS State Law and is actually a matter of public record. Second, in the Governor's recent budget proposal, he actually mentioned this. I am not an administrator for the district, or any district, nor is any family member, relative, etc., although I fail to see how that is relevant. Here is a link to a pdf that mentions this, just so you know I didn't make it up (and no, I don't work for KNEA or the NEA either). [ http://www.knea.org/legislative/financeinfocus/images/parkinsonbudget.pdf ]

KSManimal 4 years, 11 months ago

Six says:

“Kansans understand that no one is immune from funding cuts, and what is ‘suitable’ in good times may be different than when times are not so good.”

Sure, times are tough. But even when times were GOOD, the legislature didn't make a good faith effort to comply with the courts. Yeah, on paper they made some promises...but never set in place a revenue source to actually fund those promises. Empty.

More importantly, the state constitution requires the legislature to provide for public schools. It makes no provision for NOT doing so during tough economic times.

As for what meets the definition of "suitable", the legislature's own study ( http://www.kslegislature.org/postaudit/audits_perform/05pa19a.pdf ) spells that out; and makes no distinction relative to current economic conditions. Logically, Six's claim that "suitable" is relative to funds raised makes no sense. It takes a certain amount of money to educate kids. Little Johnny's education isn't suddenly cheaper just because we're in a recession.

Six is posturing for his base, plain and simple.

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