Judge denies state's motion to dismiss school-funding lawsuit

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A lawsuit brought by parents and three school corporations regarding the state’s school-funding formula has been allowed to proceed, a Hamilton Superior judge ruled.

Hamilton Superior Judge Steven R. Nation denied Nov. 24 the state’s motion to dismiss the suit brought by Hamilton Southeastern Schools in Hamilton County, Middlebury Community Schools in Elkhart County, and Franklin Township Community School Corporation in Marion County, and parents on behalf of their children and other minor children. The suit Hamilton Southeastern Schools, et al. v. Mitch Daniels, Governor of the State of Indiana, et al., No. 29D01-1002-PL-198, was filed in February.

The schools argued that the state's non-uniform school-funding scheme has a negative impact on its students. The plaintiffs challenge 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 school corporations receive dramatically less funding than other school corporations. The suit also alleges the 2010 introduction of the restoration grant, which allows some corporations to make up losses in the baseline per-pupil funding level, will add to the disparity.

The state moved to dismiss the suit for failure to state a claim, but Judge Nation found the plaintiffs have standing to sue and their complaints should proceed. The judge noted how this litigation doesn’t present the same issues as Bonner v. Daniels, 907 N.E.2d 516 (Ind. 2009), in which public school students sued based on the premise that the Indiana Constitution imposes an enforceable duty on state government to provide a certain quality of education.

The Indiana Supreme Court justices voted 4-1 to dismiss that suit. They ruled even if Indiana's public school system falls 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.

“In that case, the Supreme Court did not have before it whether the same Constitutional language maintains standards for ‘uniformity in education funding,’ as Plaintiffs in this case assert,” he wrote. “The issue in this case is not equality of educational outcomes, … The issue here is uniformity in funding.”

Attorney General Greg Zoeller released a statement on the ruling, reiterating his belief that the school corporations don’t have standing to sue and that only the General Assembly has the authority to change the school-funding formula. He also proposed that legislators prohibit school corporations from using state dollars to sue the state.


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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. 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

  4. 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?)

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