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Schools sue over state funding formula

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Three Indiana school districts are suing the state over the Indiana's per-pupil school-funding formula.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools in Hamilton County, Franklin Township Community Schools in Marion County, and Middlebury Community Schools in Elkhart County filed the suit, Hamilton Southeastern Schools, et al. v. Mitch Daniels, et al., No. 29D01-1002-PL-198, today in Hamilton Superior Court.

The schools argue that the state's non-uniform school-funding scheme has a negative impact on its students. The suit challenges the constitutionality of Title 20, Article 43 of Indiana Code, which sets out the state's scheme for distributing education funds to school corporations, saying it violates the Education Clause of the Indiana Constitution.

The suit says the three schools receive dramatically less funding than other school corporations. The three schools had per-pupil revenues of approximately $5,100 in 2009; Indianapolis Public Schools had per-pupil revenues of more than $7,800.

The suit also alleges the 2010 changes to the school-funding scheme will add to the disparity. The schools are represented by Franczek Radelet in Chicago and Riley Bennett & Egloff in Indianapolis.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is disappointed that the school systems decided to file a lawsuit in order to challenge the funding formula. He said in a statement that the costly litigation should have been avoided and the issue would be better handled by legislators.

"The costs for the schools' lawyers to bring this suit and for the State's lawyers to defend it, and for the Court to preside over it ultimately are paid through the same source: taxpayers' wallets," Zoeller said.

The school funding issue arose in a case of first impression last year before the Indiana Supreme Court, Joseph and LaTanya Bonner, et al. v. Mitch Daniels, et al., No. 49S02-0809-CV-525, in which the justices voted 4-1 to dismiss the case. The plaintiffs in that case sought a judicial declaration that Indiana's system of school funding violates the Education Clause, the Due Course of Law Clause, and the Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Indiana Constitution.

The justices ruled even if Indiana's public school system fall short of where it should be in providing quality education, courts aren't constitutionally able to set standards or establish a financing formula because that's up to the General Assembly.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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