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LITIGATION UPDATE: KANSAS, SOUTH CAROLINA, COLORADO, and MORE
September 4, 2012

Cases challenging the constitutionality of state school funding systems are before the courts in Texas, California, Washington, Connecticut, New York, Illinois, Rhode Island, and North Carolina, among others.

In Kansas, on August 29, 2012, a three-judge panel heard closing arguments in the Gannon v. State trial. As reported by WIBW, in Topeka, plaintiffs' attorney Alan Rupe "says the state has failed to live up to its promises to increase K-12 funding, something ordered by the Kansas Supreme Court in 2006. He says instead, the state legislature cut $511 million, while the cost of education has risen. 'We come up with thousands and thousands of kids in Kansas that aren't being provided an adequate level of education,' Rupe said."

The State cut taxes and school funding in recent legislative actions. The court indicated it may be more than two or three months before it issues its decision. For context, Kansas has fewer than 500,000 K-12 students.

In North Carolina, the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court ruling on the right to pre-K, to be reported in more detail in a separate e-news item this week.

In South Carolina, the supreme court has set September 18, for oral argument in the long-standing Abbeville v. State educational opportunity case. As this matter was argued before the court on June 25, 2008, this appeal and cross-appeal will be reargued over four years later.

The court also asked the parties to address changes in school funding since June 2005. Plaintiffs and amici South Carolina Association of School Administrators and South Carolina School Boards Association argue that the State has slashed funding, reducing opportunity and harming schoolchildren.

Amici include those who filed in 2008, such as the League of Women Voters of SC and the SC Conference of the NAACP, in a brief arguing for high quality preschool and written by ELC.

In Colorado, the State has appealed the trial court's Lobato ruling in favor of plaintiffs to the Colorado Supreme Court. The State has filed its initial brief, and plaintiffs' brief is due September 26, 2012.

Many amici are also filing briefs with the court, including the Denver Chamber of Commerce and other business interests, former governors, and charter proponents. Many Colorado groups plan to file on behalf of plaintiffs in September. ELC (Education Law Center) and CEE (Campaign for Educational Equity) will also file amicus briefs.

For ongoing developments, see the Children's Voices website.

In Washington, the state supreme court declared the state school funding system unconstitutional in January, reported here, and decided to "remain vigilant" in monitoring the State's progress towards compliance with its "constitutional responsibility" under the Education Article of the Washington Constitution. This multi-year process bears watching.

In Texas, New York and Connecticut, plaintiffs are preparing for trial. In Texas, the trial in TTSFC v. Scott will begin October 22, 2012, and in New York, the note of issue in Hussein v. State is due to be filed March 1, 2013.

In New Jersey, ELC filed a case against the New Jersey School Development Authority (SDA), which is violating a law that directs the SDA to allow eligible urban school district (or "SDA districts") to manage the design and construction of needed school facilities projects, instead of the SDA. The case is pending.

In Illinois, Carr v. Koch is before the state supreme court on the state's motion to dismiss.

In California and Rhode Island, plaintiffs have filed appeals of decisions in favor of their respective states on motions to dismiss. We will report further developments here and on the Education Justice website.

Education Justice Press Contact:
Molly A. Hunter, Esq.
Director, Education Justice
email: mhunter@edlawcenter.org
voice: 973 624-1815 x19
www.edlawcenter.org
www.educationjustice.org


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