April 20, 2006

Indiana teachers sue state over school funding

CHICAGO -- Indiana is not adequately funding its public schools, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday, but plaintiffs are not saying how much more the state should be spending on students.

"This is a lawsuit dealing with what we believe is an unconstitutional funding formula in the state," Warren Williams, executive director of the Indiana State Teachers Association, told reporters.

Michael Weisman, an attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the teachers' group and students, said that no specific amount of money was being sought.

He said it was up to the courts to order Indiana to determine what resources would be necessary for students to meet standards set by the state.

"A number would be misleading and would not be honest," he said, adding that his clients were willing to meet with the governor and lawmakers to work out a compromise.

Indiana general fund spending on K-12 is now about $4 billion a year, according to the state's budget office.

The lawsuit, filed in Marion County court, claims that under the current funding system, Indiana denies students preschool opportunities, supplemental reading instruction, English language learning instruction and remediation and summer school opportunities.

Gov. Mitch Daniels' office has declined to comment on the litigation, which it planned to review after the lawsuit was filed.

With the lawsuit, Indiana will join the ranks of dozens of other states that have been hit with legal challenges to their school funding systems, including Texas, Ohio and Kansas.