School Funding Case Will Proceed To Trial
The lawsuit over the state’s method of distributing funds for K-12 education will be heard after an application for mootness on the part of one of the defendants was denied this week.
Almost a year ago the Supreme Court of PA ordered the case,–brought by six school districts, parents, and two statewide associations–back to Commonwealth Court to be heard on claims related to the PA Constitution’s education and equal protection clauses. The application for mootness rested on the passage of Act 35 of 2016, which applied a new student weighted funding formula to new money appropriated beginning in 2015-16. Since a new formula was put in place, the argument was that the thrust of the case (filed in November of 2014) was rendered moot.
Based on both the Commonwealth and Supreme Court treatment of the passage of Act 35 in the proceedings as well as a response from the petitioners to the request for dismissal, the judge ordered “at this early procedural juncture…there are sufficient legal and factual issues that remain in dispute, such that this Court cannot find Petitioners’ constitutional claims moot.”
According to a news article on the decision no trial date has been set. As we noted last year when the case was sent back to Commonwealth Court “it sets in motion a process that could possibly force the Legislature to change Pennsylvania’s system of funding K-12. This will be a messy, drawn-out and expensive process.”