The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to review a case brought by Shawnee Mission School District parents against a Kansas school spending cap.
The case, Petrella v. Brownback, now continues in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.
“There is reason to be optimistic going forward,” said Tristan Duncan, lawyer for the parents.
The constitutional claims in district court will have to pass a “rational basis” test, that is, “Is the spending cap rationally related to a legitimate purpose, or does it instead serve an improper or discriminatory purpose?” Duncan said.
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The parents’ lawyers will argue that limiting how much property tax revenue a district can spend on schools violates the parents’ federal constitutional right to equal protection of the law. They say the cap prevents their district from achieving funding equality with other districts.
“The Supreme Court may not have wanted to take up these important constitutional questions until we exhaust all our lower court remedies,” Duncan said.
A U.S. Appeals Court in June ruled against the district parents, saying that the court didn’t want to override school funding methods that are the result of years of legislation and litigation.
The appeals court said a state could have legitimate reasons to cap spending, such as avoiding a teacher salary war among districts.
The Petrella case isn’t part of the ongoing school funding case, Gannon v. Kansas. In Gannon, four school districts, including Kansas City, Kan., say the state has violated the Kansas constitution by not fully funding K-12 education.
The Gannon plaintiffs intervened in the Petrella case and opposed the U.S. Supreme Court review.
Alan Rupe, one of the lawyer for the school districts, on Monday said that proving the spending cap is unconstitutional on a rational basis test is “a feat that will prove very difficult.”
Read the arguments against school spending caps made by lawyers for Shawnee Mission School District parents: http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article47192175.html