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Justices find no public school transportation mandate

March 24, 2015

A dispute over a suburban Indianapolis school system’s fees for bus service ended Tuesday with the state Supreme Court ruling that public schools are not constitutionally required to provide transportation for students.

“In the case before us today, we find no constitutional requirement for school corporations to provide transportation to and from school,” Justice Steven David wrote for the court. “Since Franklin (Township) School Corporation did not violate a constitutional mandate, we affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Franklin (Township) School Corporation.”

Facing a budget shortfall in 2010, the township in southeastern Marion County privatized transportation service, requiring parents to pay more than $400 annually for their children to take the bus. Outcry over the decision led lawmakers in 2012 to amend I.C. 20-27-5-2 to prohibit charging fees for transportation to and from school.

But the court noted in Lora Hoagland, On Behalf of Herself and All Others Similarly Situated v. Franklin Township Community School Corp., 49S02-1410-PL-643, that the same statute section included language that said a school corporation “may” provide transportation to and from school.

Because the education clause in the Indiana Constitution grants development of a system of common schools to the Legislature, David wrote, the court was limited to determining when an action clearly violates a constitutional mandate.

“We summarily affirm the Court of Appeals in holding that the Indiana Tort Claims Act was inapplicable to Hoagland’s constitutional claim. We also summarily affirm the Court of Appeals in holding that the Education Clause does not provide a private right of action to pursue monetary damages. We now hold that Article 8, Section 1 of Indiana’s Constitution does not mandate school corporations to provide transportation to and from school. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Franklin (Township) School Corporation,” David wrote.

The opinion was unanimous, but Justice Robert Rucker concurred in result only.



 

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