Tennessee deputy AG says lawsuit over schools funds should be dismissed

Tennessee deputy AG says lawsuit over schools funds should be dismissed

April 25th, 2015 by Tim Omarzu in Local Regional News
School education pencil tile

School education pencil tile

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Document: Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit

Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit

Document: Memorandum of law in Support of Motion to Dismiss

Memorandum of law in Support of Motion to Dismiss

A lawsuit by the school boards of Hamilton County and six other area counties over Tennessee's Basic Education Program, the public school funding formula, should be dismissed, argues Kevin Steiling, deputy attorney general at the Tennessee attorney general's office.

The state had until Friday to respond to the school systems' suit. Steiling filed a 32-page memorandum in Davidson County Chancery Court in Nashville that says the local school districts' lawsuit relies on a "profoundly flawed interpretation" of three successful previous lawsuits against the BEP and should be "dismissed in its entirety."

The lawsuit claims the state doesn't provide enough funding for numerous expenses, including teacher pay and health insurance. The state underestimates by about $10,000 what teachers are actually paid, the lawsuit says, and the state pays only for 10 months of teachers' 12 months of insurance.

Hamilton County school board attorney Scott Bennett

Hamilton County school board attorney Scott Bennett

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

Scott Bennett, the attorney for the Hamilton County Department of Education and the other county school districts that filed suit -- Bradley, Coffee, Grundy, Marion, McMinn and Polk -- declined to comment since litigation has begun.

The state's attorney wrote that the local school districts were wrong in taking their complaints about lack of funding to the court system.

"The ... school boards do a difficult job in overseeing and conducting the day-to-day education of schoolchildren in their districts," Steiling wrote. "But these pleas for more funding are not properly directed to the courts of Tennessee -- they must be directed to the General Assembly."

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or www.facebook.com/tim.omarzu, @TimOmarzu on Twitter or 423-757-6651.


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