Education

Jul 2, 2013 12:25 PM by AP(PHOTO COURTESY: MGN ONLINE)

Lawsuit claims public school districts owed $200M

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board and a teachers union are suing the state for $200 million, saying school funding formulas approved by lawmakers for three years were not passed properly.

The lawsuit claims public school financing plans passed in 2010, 2011 and 2012 should have been voided and the schools should have been funded with a formula that entitled them to increases in state aid each year, rather than the freeze in funding that went on for four years.

The Advocate says (http://bit.ly/12BLVGy ) the legal challenge was filed Friday in Baton Rouge district court by the school board, the Louisiana Association of Educators and local LAE affiliates.

The lawsuit stems from a ruling by the Louisiana Supreme Court earlier this year that declared the state's voucher program financing unconstitutional - and also declared the Legislature didn't properly pass the 2012-13 school funding formula.

The school board and teachers union say the same problems outlined by the Supreme Court, involving the procedure and timeline for handling the formula, occurred in previous year formula approvals by lawmakers.

The 2009 plan was the most recent one that was passed properly, and that plan included a 2.75 percent increase in funding for later years, or $200 million more than the state is currently paying, the lawsuit says.

Defendants in the lawsuit are the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the state Department of Education.

Asked about the lawsuit, Barry Landry, a spokesman for the education department, replied with a statement.

"While it is the Legislature that appropriates funds, not the Department of Education, we can provide the court testimony and information to assist in resolving this issue," Landry said.

The initial court hearing before Judge Michael Caldwell is set for Sept. 23.

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