Trial date set for school financing lawsuits

Marilyn Tennissen Apr. 17, 2012, 8:33am


AUSTIN – A state district judge has set a tentative trial date for Texas' school finance lawsuits.

State District Judge John Dietz signed an order Monday establishing the tentative trial date for Oct. 22.

Four lawsuits on behalf of hundreds of school districts statewide, including Beaumont ISD, have been filed in response to school finance legislation passed by the Texas Legislature last summer. Dietz has consolidated the cases.

They charge that the way Texas distributes funding to school districts is inadequate and inequitable.

Four different education groups and school districts filed suit last year, complaining the current system does not provide equitable funding or enough money to meet state academic standards.

The state has denied the allegations and argues that the districts have no standing to pursue the claims.

"To state an actionable claim under Edgewood IV or West Orange-Cove II, Plaintiffs must not only demonstrate their standing to do so, but also prove that with current levels of funding and at previously-imposed tax efforts, the districts are 'not reasonably able to afford all students access to education and the education opportunity to accomplish a general diffusion of knowledge.' (West Orange-Cove II, 176 S.W.3d at 789-90.) Plaintiffs have generally failed to plead a claim under West Orange-Cove II," the defendants' original answer states.

The state has lost most school finance lawsuits since the landmark Edgewood case was filed in 1984, according to the Houston Chronicle.

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