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.

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