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. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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