MALDEF Renews Court Challenge to Facilities Crisis

(San Antonio, TEXAS) On behalf of the Edgewood Districts1, MALDEF today filed a Motion for Rehearing with the Texas Supreme Court urging the Court to remand the issue of facilities financing back to the trial court. Because the Supreme Court established a new legal standard for proving a violation of the Texas Constitution with respect to facilities financing, MALDEF argued that the Supreme Court should allow the trial court to conduct further proceedings on the matter.

In its opinion and judgment released on November 22, 2005, the Supreme Court recognized the glaring deficiencies in the Edgewood Districts that force them to place children in overcrowded classrooms, inadequate and unsafe science labs, and classrooms with inadequate heating, air conditioning and ventilation. The Court also recognized that property-poor districts cannot access the funds to address their needs, because the taxpayers in those districts cannot afford tax rates that are as much as twenty times higher than rates in property-rich districts. Despite the overwhelming evidence, the Court stated that the Edgewood Districts also should have presented evidence of similar facilities needs in other districts.

“The Court has never previously required evidence of ‘similar needs’ in other districts, only evidence of needs in the plaintiffs’ own districts and the disproportionate tax burden borne by their taxpayers. Nonetheless, in other far less important cases in which the Supreme Court developed new standards, the Court sent those cases back to the trial court and allowed the plaintiffs to present evidence relevant to the new standards,” said David Hinojosa, MALDEF Staff Attorney and lead counsel for the Edgewood Districts in the case.

He added: “The leadership in this State remains unconcerned and unresponsive to the facilities needs of children in property-poor districts. An efficient educational system, in the constitutional sense or in any other sense, cannot be one in which the children in property-poor districts continue to be subjected to dilapidated classrooms and dangerous learning environments. Texas’s legacy of neglecting the schools for the poor must end now.”

A national nonprofit organization founded in 1968, MALDEF promotes and protects the rights of Latinos through advocacy, community education and outreach, leadership development, higher education scholarships and when necessary, through the legal system.

[Press Release via email Dec. 7, 2005–gm]

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