This week, the latest round of school finance litigation goes to trial in Austin. One thing that’s different about this trial, compared to the other trials over the past few decades, is that charter schools are represented. In addition to the groups representing traditional ISDs (some property-rich, some property-poor), the Texas Charter Schools Association has also filed a petition. The named plaintiffs are charter school families:
- Abby Baerga, a student at New Frontiers Charter School in San Antonio, and her father, Christopher Baerga
- Luke Christensen, a student at Harmony School of Innovation in San Antonio, with his parents, Jason and Sarah Christensen, and his sister, Grace Christensen
- Ulric Flemister, a student at SER-Niños Academy in the Houston area, and his father, Brooks Flemister, a KIPP teacher
- Teal Evelyn Allen, a student at Lindsley Park Community School in the Dallas area, and her mother Dana Allen
The charter school lawsuit raises challenges the lack of facilities funding for charter schools and the arbitrary cap of 215 charter-holders. “First Time Charter Schools Considered in Texas School Finance Trial: Need for Facilities Funding and Lifting the Arbitrary Cap”, Texas Charter Schools Association news release, October 22, 2012.
More news coverage about the start of the school finance trial:
- “Texas Schools Head To Trial Over School Finance, Claims System Is Unconstitutional”, Will Weissert (AP), Huffington Post, October 22, 2012.
- “Equity in Texas school funding returns to fore in court”, Kate Alexander, Austin American-Statesman, October 13, 2012.
- “Texas school finance trial kicks off”, Kate Alexander, Austin American-Statesman, October 22, 2012.
- “School financing suit heads to court”, Gary Scharrer, San Antonio Express-News, October 21, 2012.
- “Arguments start in school funding trial”, Gary Scharrer, San Antonio Express-News, October 22, 2012.
- “School Districts, State Trade Blame at Finance Trial”, Morgan Smith, Texas Tribune, October 22, 2012.
Keep in mind that the trial is likely to last for several months. Once Judge Dietz writes up his findings, the cases will almost certainly be appealed to the Third Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court—a process that will probably last at least a year. In the meantime, the next legislative session will begin on January 8, 2013.