Group can't challenge high school closure

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a parent and taxpayer group’s legal challenge to the closing of a Fort Wayne school, finding the decision doesn’t violate the state constitution.

In Save Our School: Elmhurst High School v. Fort Wayne Community Schools, et al., No. 02A04-1012-PL-746, Save Our School: Elmhurst High School sued seeking declaratory judgment against Fort Wayne Community Schools and the Fort Wayne Community Schools Board of School Trustees to force Elmhurst High School to remain open.

In March 2010, FWCS decided to close the high school for budgetary reasons and send the students to three of the other five Fort Wayne high schools. The closure was effective with the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year.

Members of SOS, parents of students who attended Elmhurst and district property taxpayers, argued the three high schools the children would now attend were poorer in academic performance. FWCS filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court granted.

The majority of the Indiana Court of Appeals decided to address the issue even though the case is now moot as the school is closed. SOS argued the closing of Elmhurst violated the Education Clause of the Indiana Constitution as well as the Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause. Judges Michael Barnes and Carr Darden ruled the constitutional claims were foreclosed by Bonner ex rel. Bonner v. Daniels, 907 N.E.2d 516 (Ind. 2009), in which the Indiana Supreme Court held the Education Clause doesn’t impose upon government an affirmative duty to achieve any particular standard of resulting educational quality.

“It is our opinion that Bonner leaves no room for recognizing a claim such as SOS wants to press. FWCS is continuing to operate a ‘general and uniform’ public school system. It just happens to be operating it with one less high school than before. SOS’s claim that FWCS closed the ‘wrong’ school or should not have closed Elmhurst at all, based on a comparison of the academic merits of Elmhurst, Wayne, North Side, and South Side, is not a cognizable Education Clause claim under Bonner,” wrote Judge Barnes.

The majority also held SOS is not entitled to relief under the common law doctrine of judicial review as there is no “common law” right to review the actions of a school corporation such as FWCS.

Judge Patricia Riley concurred in result because she would declare the appeal to be moot. No effective relief could be rendered to the parties because Elmhurst is closed and the teachers and students have gone on to other schools.

“While I do not dismiss the potential public interest involved here, I would prefer to embark on a constitutional analysis after more facts are known and the precedent created by the case would be more valuable,” she wrote, pointing out that no discovery had been conducted and the summary judgment stage hadn’t even been reached.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  2. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  3. Paul Hartman of Burbank, Oh who is helping Sister Fuller with this Con Artist Kevin Bart McCarthy scares Sister Joseph Therese, Patricia Ann Fuller very much that McCarthy will try and hurt Patricia Ann Fuller and Paul Hartman of Burbank, Oh or any member of his family. Sister is very, very scared, (YES, I AM) This McCarthy guy is a real, real CON MAN and crook. I try to totall flatter Kevin Bart McCARTHY to keep him from hurting my best friends in this world which are Carolyn Rose and Paul Hartman. I Live in total fear of this man Kevin Bart McCarthy and try to praise him as a good man to keep us ALL from his bad deeds. This man could easy have some one cause us a very bad disability. You have to PRAISAE in order TO PROTECT yourself. He lies and makes up stories about people and then tries to steal if THEY OWN THRU THE COURTS A SPECIAL DEVOTION TO PROTECT, EX> Our Lady of America DEVOTION. EVERYONE who reads this, PLEASE BE CAREFUL of Kevin Bart McCarthy of Indianapolis, IN My Phone No. IS 419-435-3838.

  4. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  5. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.