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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. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

  2. Who gives a rats behind about all the fluffy ranking nonsense. What students having to pay off debt need to know is that all schools aren't created equal and students from many schools don't have a snowball's chance of getting a decent paying job straight out of law school. Their lowly ranked lawschool won't tell them that though. When schools start honestly (accurately) reporting *those numbers, things will get interesting real quick, and the looks on student's faces will be priceless!

  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

  4. Unfortunately, the court doesn't understand the difference between ebidta and adjusted ebidta as they clearly got the ruling wrong based on their misunderstanding

  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

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