An update on the school district litigation with Thompson & Horton. Judge Dietz entered a scheduling order and set the trial to begin October 22nd. More below. You are subscribed because you indicated an interest in the Texas school district initiative. Unsubscribe instructions are below.
Thompson & Horton LLP Public School Finance Litigation
Over the course of the next several months, we will be working hand-in-hand on the school finance litigation. As your legal counsel, we want to keep you apprised of what we are accomplishing on your behalf. Given that the make-up of this group is upwards of 82 school districts (and growing), Thompson & Horton is launching this email newsletter, to be sent to you weekly, to maintain communication throughout this historic lawsuit.
Within these newsletters we will provide you with a summary of the items we have covered over the past week, and keep you apprised of any upcoming milestones. Additionally, we will offer you a list of the latest news coverage on this important topic.
We look forward to working with you.
UpdateOver the past few weeks, Thompson & Horton has met or spoken with a number of education experts, including Lynn Moak and Dan Casey, as well as Bill Duncombe of Syracuse University, who conducts cost-function studies. We are evaluating the various approaches that have been used to determine the costs of meeting various educational standards and the experts who have employed those approaches to select the strongest and most defensible approach for our group.
In addition, Judge Dietz entered a scheduling order and set the trial to begin October 22nd. We anticipate depositions of superintendents will begin in late June or early July, after we have updated financial and performance data for districts, and continue through the end of September. A copy of the scheduling order can be download (in *pdf) here.
In the near future, we will provide all of your districts with a questionnaire to obtain data in order to assess which districts can best serve as “focus districts” for purposes of trial. Please keep an eye out for this questionnaire and help us by identifying the best person in your district to help coordinate the gathering of this data.
In conjunction with Morgan Smith's "Death of a District" series, the Tribune presents a special video report on the role of accountability and whether the state's current standards are helping or hurting failing districts in Texas. (Read more...) After Wilmer-Hutchins ISD is closed, signs of rebirth By Morgan Smith, Texas Tribune staff
April 9, 2012
DALLAS — Before Shavante Birdow attended Wilmer-Hutchins High School, she heard from family members tales of roaches infesting the high school cafeteria — just one obvious sign of the school district’s struggles. But the gleaming new building she sits in now barely resembles the one that was closed in 2006 along with the rest of the Wilmer-Hutchins Independent School District, which the Texas Education Agency shuttered for dismal academics and finances. (Read more…) Premont ISD still has work to do after cutting sports By Morgan Smith, Texas Tribune staff
April 8, 2012
PREMONT — The hallways at this rural town’s only high school were deserted on a Tuesday afternoon in January, much to Enrique Ruiz’s delight. It meant everyone who had shown up for school that day was in class — a sight that Ruiz, the school’s principal, has learned not to take for granted.
Getting students to school and keeping them there has become a matter of survival for the 570-student Premont Independent School District, where lagging attendance rates are hurting the district financially and academically. The district received notice in July that it would face closing because of its years of poor academic performance and shoddy finances. (Read more…) West Texas parents join school funding lawsuit By Enrique Rangel, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal staff
April 7, 2012
AUSTIN — Attorney David Hinojosa recalls that in a school funding lawsuit of seven years ago, one of the judges asked the lawyers for the plaintiffs, “Where are the parents in all of this?”
It was a question he didn’t forget, said Hinojosa, chief public education litigator for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. (Read more…) Districts Avoid School Finance Lawsuits, Cite Finances By Anna Whitney, Texas Tribune staff
April 3, 2012
During the legislative session earlier this year, David Thompson received a message from a Republican lawmaker on the floor of the House.
“Please sue us soon,” it read.
The veteran school finance lawyer told the story to several dozen school leaders last weekend as he explained to them why he is poised to do just that — file litigation against the state over the way it funds its public schools. The involvement of courts, he said, could help provide political cover for lawmakers to make better policy. (Read more…)Judge, litigants getting set for complex school finance trial By Kate Alexander, Austin American-Statesman staff
March 28, 2012
The Travis County courtroom of state District Judge John Dietz will once again provide the stage for Texas' looming school finance battle.
On Wednesday, an affable Dietz welcomed back many of the same players who had appeared in his courtroom eight years ago when school districts last challenged the constitutionality of the state's system for funding public education. (Read more…)