ILNews

Group can't challenge high school closure

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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.

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  1. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  4. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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