One Of The School Funding Lawsuits In Kansas Has Been Dismissed

Aug 10, 2016

A federal school funding lawsuit filed by parents in the Shawnee Mission School District has been dismissed for now.

One of the school funding lawsuits that has been hanging over the head of Kansas has been dismissed.         

The lawsuit is called Petrella and was filed in federal court by a group of Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) parents.

They argued that the district, one of the wealthiest in Kansas, should be able to raise and spend as much local tax money as it wants.

Kansas law caps how much local money a district can spend.

"We have successfully defended Kansas law against this challenge in federal court," Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a statement.

The lawsuit was filed in 2010 and argued that the free speech and equal protection rights of the Shawnee Mission students are being violated by the cap.

The parents appealed twice to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver and failed to convince the Supreme Court to hear the case.

But the lawyer for the Petrella parents say they voluntarily dismissed the suit and might re-file the complaint depending on what the state Supreme Court rules in the much larger Gannon case.

"We voluntarily dismissed the case a few weeks ago and can re-file later once the dust settles on the Kansas financing scheme — if the distribution of funding remains unfair to the SMSD," says attorney Tristan Duncan.

The Kansas Supreme Court has set oral arguments on whether the state is adequately funding public education for Sept. 21 at 9 a.m.

Sam Zeff  is co-host of the political podcast Statehouse Blend and covers education for KCUR, which is a partner in a statewide collaboration covering elections in Kansas. Follow Sam on Twitter @SamZeff.