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Mother files suit challenging school bus fee

November 3, 2011

A woman in Marion County has filed a lawsuit against a community school corporation because she claims the fee imposed for her children to ride the bus to school interferes with their constitutional right to an education.

Lora Hoagland’s two children are enrolled in Franklin Township public schools and qualify for free or reduced lunch. Due to budget issues, the school corporation voted to stop providing bus service this school year and contracted with Central Indiana Educational Service Center to provide the busing. Those who want their children to ride the bus now must pay more than $400 per child for the school year.

Hoagland says she can’t afford the fees so she has been driving her children to school. She claims that the school corporation’s decision deprives her children of their constitutional right to a free education, and it interferes with the children’s compliance with state law that children must attend school.

“Indiana law guarantees children an education whereby tuition is without charge, requires children to attend school and prohibits public schools from directly or indirectly assessing Bus Fees upon students enrolled in public schools,” the suit says.

In July 2010, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller issued an official opinion on charging students to ride the bus, finding collecting these fees is unconstitutional.

Hoagland wants the judge to order the school system to transport students to school for free and to find the discontinuation of the bus service to be unconstitutional. She also seeks to have the suit certified as a class action.
 

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