School finance plaintiffs ask court to strike ‘misleading, unsupported statements’ from state’s brief

photo by: Associated Press

Kansas Supreme Court Justices take their seats to hear oral arguments in this file photo from Dec. 10, 2015.

? Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the long-running school finance case accused the state’s attorneys of making misleading and unsupported statements in briefs filed last week with the Kansas Supreme Court, and they are asking the court to strike those comments from the record.

In a motion filed with the court late Thursday, the plaintiffs argued that a brief written by Solicitor General Stephen McAllister “severely misquotes State Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson and his testimony to the Legislature.” They also asked that the comments be stricken in advance of oral arguments in the case that are scheduled for Tuesday, July 18.

The controversy concerns whether or not the Kansas State Board of Education, in establishing its new “Kansans Can” goals and in developing its budget request last year, based those around a set of educational outcomes known as the “Rose standards” that the court has said will guide its decision in the case.

The court said in its initial ruling in March 2014 that school funding must be “reasonably calculated to have all Kansas public education students meet or exceed” those standards.

In the state’s brief filed last week, McAllister, who is also a University of Kansas law professor, argued that the state board’s budget request, which was significantly larger than what lawmakers approved this year, was not based on the Rose standards, but instead on what a three-judge trial panel had ordered in 2013.

The funding bill lawmakers approved this year phases in a $293 million increase in school funding over two years. The State Board of Education had recommended an $893 million increase phased in over two years.

Watson himself spoke to those issues during his monthly presentation to the State Board of Education on Tuesday, saying that both the board goals and the budget request were, in fact, based around the Rose standards.

As of Thursday evening, the state had not filed a response to the motion.