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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. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

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