New lawsuit challenges student fees

The legal battle over student fees is headed back to federal court.

Former Idaho Supreme Court justice Robert Huntley filed a class action lawsuit in federal court Wednesday, naming every school district and charter school in Idaho as a defendant.

Huntley alleges that the schools are charging $20 million in student fees, even after a district judge ruled the practice was unconstitutional, Betsy Russell of the Idaho Press-Tribune reported Thursday.

“It’s very frustrating,” Huntley told Russell. “That’s why I wanted to file this suit to finally get their attention.”

In November 2015, District Judge Richard Greenwood ruled the student fees violated the state Constitution, which requires the state to provide a free, common and thorough public school system.

Despite this constitutional underpinning, this case was narrow in scope. Originally, the 2012 lawsuit named the state, then-state superintendent Tom Luna, the State Department of Education, the Legislature, 114 districts and a charter school as defendants. The case was narrowed, leaving the West Ada School District as the sole defendant. And ultimately, the case centered on fees paid by Russell Joki, a grandfather later elected to the West Ada School Board.

In the new lawsuit — which alleges the student fees violate the Fifth and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution — Huntley seeks a refund of all fees collected since 2012, punitive damages and legal fees, Russell reports.

 

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