Student fee lawsuit hearing: a preview

A case challenging the constitutionality of student school fees will be discussed in a Boise courtroom this afternoon.

Two issues are on tap:

The class action suit. Lawyers on both sides will debate whether the plaintiffs can bring a class action lawsuit against the districts that charge student fees. As it stands now, 64 districts are defendants in the case, which argues that the student fees violate the state’s constitutional mandate to provide free, common public schools.

Brian Julian, an attorney representing 56 of the districts, argues that some districts charge fees just for athletics, or for supplies — or not at all. “Every district treats fees differently. … There really isn’t any common method of analyzing this.”

Plaintiff Russell Joki, a grandfather and former Nampa school superintendent, says the move to separate filings is simply an attempt to break the plaintiffs.

The state’s role. Plaintiffs in the case want the state, the Legislature, the State Department of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna listed again as defendants. District Judge Richard Greenwood removed the state from the case last month.

Last month, plaintiffs proposed to put the case on hold, if the parties agreed to mediation, No defendants agreed to the offer, Joki said Friday.

The arguments will be heard in Greenwood’s courtroom at 3 p.m. Check Idaho Education News for the latest.

  • Mary wells

    I am so thrilled that this lawsuit continues. Both myself and my children in our
    different generations have been denied public school classes due to costs
    of supplies, fees etc. as a teacher I vowed NEVER to charge
    families for anything, and in 25 years I never did. It can be done and must be.
    Stand ip for equality in public education.

  • Ed Klopfenstein

    The problem really centers around how our school system is funded. Several years ago, our state leaders decided to switch our school funding formula so funding relied more on the housing market than the general fund, and a fight for dollars has ensued ever since. Now, local schools have to beg to parents to pick up the difference. Pay to play is not fair, but neither is the way schools are funded.

    Our state should adhere to its own Constitution and fund education as its top priority. Idaho state government created this mess, yet the judge released the state from any responsibility. I hope the state is brought back into the case so Idaho taxpayers can get their day in court on state policies in education funding.