|8/28/2014 5:11:00 PM|
Judge John Dietz Declares Texas Public School Finance System Unconstitutional
(AUSTIN, TX) - State District Court Judge John Dietz issued his final decision today in the landmark public school funding trial, Texas Taxpayers & Student Fairness Coalition, et al. v. Michael Williams, et al.
In his ruling, Judge Dietz found the system to be inequitable, unsuitable, and inadequate in violation of Article VII, §1 of the Texas Constitution. He also found districts do not have meaningful discretion to adopt property tax rates below the statutory maximum, creating, in effect, an unconstitutional state ad valorem tax, in violation of Article VIII, §1-e of the constitution.
This is a remarkable win for the 443 school district members of the Fairness Coalition, representing over 1.4 million school children statewide, as well as for the districts represented by other groups. Alice ISD is included in the coalition.
Coalition President Jerry Vaughn (superintendent, Taylor ISD) said, "We are pleased with Judge Dietz's ruling and hope that it will inspire our Legislators to correct the inequity and inadequacy issues for all of our great public schools."
Rick Gray, lead attorney for the Coalition, said,"I am delighted with Judge Dietz's ruling. It is my hope that the Legislature will once and for all permanently fix the school finance system such that all school districts will be provided adequate and equitable funding in order to provide all Texas school children the education necessary to become college and career ready."
Dr. Wayne Pierce, Executive Director of the Equity Center and an expert witness in the case, added, "Judge Dietz's ruling marks an incredible first step to achieving a system that treats our children and property taxpayers fairly."
After today's ruling, the state is expected to file an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, which we believe will sustain Judge Dietz's decision that the state funding system is unconstitutional.
As always, the Equity Center is committed to working with the Legislature to craft a solution to this funding crisis in a manner that is respectful to Texas children, parents and other taxpayers, our communities, and the future of this great state.
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