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Indiana justices to hear school bus fees appeal

October 20, 2014

The Indiana Supreme Court will decide whether a public school district may charge parents a fee to transport children to and from school.

Justices agreed to hear Lora Hoagland v. Franklin Township Community School Corp., 49S02-1410-PL-643. A Marion Superior judge ruled the township could charge parents $475 a year for a student’s bus transportation, but the Court of Appeals reversed, holding the fee was unconstitutional. Attorney General Greg Zoeller had opined the fees violated state law and were unconstitutional.  

The school district appealed the Court of Appeals order that granted Hoagland declaratory relief, but found she could not seek monetary damages.

Franklin Township eliminated student transportation in the 2011-2012 school year in response to budget constraints and contracted with Central Indiana Educational Service Center to carry students to and from school. The COA ruled that the Legislature has determined transportation to and from school qualifies as a part of a uniform system of public education.

The Supreme Court also agreed to hear a dispute over the interpretation of construction contracts in a case arising from a fire in the Jefferson County courthouse in Madison during a $6 million renovation project.

In The Board of Commissioners of the County of Jefferson v. Teton Corporation, Innovative Roofing Solutions, Inc., Gutapfel Roofing, Inc. and Daniel L. Gutapfel,  72S04-1410-CT-642, a divided panel of the COA adopted the “majority approach” to determine what a waiver of subrogation covers instead of the “minority approach” the court has historically taken.

The COA majority ruled that because the county had failed to adequately insure against potential losses during construction that it had ignored the plain language of its contracts for the work and could not therefore subrogate losses not covered to the contractor.

Judge Elaine Brown dissented, writing that the majority’s holding deprived the county of an attempt to recoup damages to non-work property due to alleged negligence.

Justices denied transfer in 21 cases for the week ending Oct. 17. Supreme Court transfer dispositions may be viewed here.

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