Supreme Court Rules Against School Districts in Funding Case

The Supreme Court Opinion was written by Justice Sharon L. Kennedy [photo: Supreme Court of Ohio]
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by Michelle Faust

An Ohio Supreme Court ruling this week means city school districts throughout the state won’t recoup millions of dollars they had hoped for.

The Ohio Department of Education made a change in their funding model in 2005 that changed the way enrollment was counted. ODE then found that Toledo, Dayton and Cleveland school districts had over-counted their enrollment by hundreds of students, 561, 688 and 575, respectively.

The over-count meant districts also received too much funding per pupil from the state.  So for several years, the state deducted millions of dollars from those districts’ funds to make up for the over-payment: Toledo more than $3 million, Dayton $2.5 million and Cleveland $1.8 million.

The schools argued that funding could not be reduced retroactively, as the Ohio state constitution makes it illegal for the state assembly to create “retroactive laws.”

State Attorney General Spokesperson, Dan Tierney says school boards are not protected by this constitutional provision, “Local boards of education, state boards of education these are all governmental entities. So, these are clearly political bodies at play here.”

The AG’s office applauds the Ohio Supreme Court ruling that political bodies are not protected.  In the 5 to 2 decision, the high court ruled that the state was within its right to retroactively withhold school funds.

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