Justices uphold ruling for IPS in negligence claim but not COA reasoning

The Indiana Supreme Court has upheld judgment for Indianapolis Public Schools in a negligence case brought by a student’s parents in a dual-credits dispute, noting that it was affirming the ruling from the Indiana Court of Appeals despite an error in reasoning.

The high court handed down a unanimous per curiam opinion Thursday in the case of Michael and Mary Poore, Individually and on Behalf of J.P. v. Indianapolis Public Schools and its Board of Education, 21S-CT-105.

Parents Michael and Mary Poore sued the school district after its refused to pay for their son, J.P., to take an advanced math class at Butler University. The Marion Superior Court entered judgment in favor of IPS on the Poores’ claims alleging breach of contract, negligence and violation of the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act, and the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed.

The Poores sought transfer, joined by the state of Indiana as amicus curiae, and the high court granted transfer Thursday. In its opinion, the justices noted that all parties agreed the COA’s opinion contained one incorrect statement: that International Baccalaureate, or IB, courses satisfied the requirements of the Dual Credit Statute, Indiana Code § 20-30-10-4.

The Poores also challenged the Court of Appeals’ finding that IPS was not negligent because it complied with its duty to provide J.P. with dual-credit classes.

“The Poores’ negligence claim in trial court was premised on IPS’s duty to provide their son with the classes necessary to graduate with a Core 40 Academic Honors Diploma – a duty the Poores conceded that IPS fulfilled,” the justices held Thursday. “They therefore waived the more specific claim that IPS was negligent for failing to satisfy the Dual Credit Statute. … Accordingly, we grant transfer and summarily affirm the Court of Appeals opinion but for Section II, 155 N.E. 3d at 650-651, which we vacate.

“… And while we agree with the Court of Appeals’ conclusion that ‘IPS was not negligent,’ 155 N.E.3d at 655, we vacate its stated reasoning,” the justices held. “Judgment in IPS’s favor is warranted not ‘because [it] did not deny J.P. the benefit of early college credits,’ but because IPS fulfilled the duty the Poores claimed it breached and the Poores otherwise waived their Dual Credit Statute argument.”

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