MALDEF Wins Ruling for Fair School Funding

(SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS) MALDEF (the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund)

welcomed the court order released this afternoon by Travis County Judge John K. Dietz following his

declaration that the Texas school finance system is inadequate and inefficient.

Judge Dietz

granted final judgment in favor of MALDEF’s clients and found specifically that the current school

finance system violates the Texas Constitution because property-poor districts do not have

substantially equal access to facilities funding and do not receive sufficient funding to educate their

students, particularly when taking into account the larger proportion of limited English proficient and

low-income students in districts like the Edgewood Intervenors.

Because Texas continues

to rely primarily on local property taxes to fund public schools, and the property wealth of school

districts varies widely around the State, Judge Dietz concluded that the State must equalize school

funding with provisions similar to those in place today.

MALDEF celebrated this victory

for fair school funding with its clients, known as the Edgewood Intervenors in this case. The Edgewood

Intervenors are twenty-two property-poor and predominantly Latino school districts that joined this

latest round of litigation to remedy the continued inequality in school funding and ensure that they

would have the funds necessary to educate their students. Many of these districts were plaintiffs in

the original Edgewood school finance cases that led to the current funding system.

The

latest lawsuit, West Orange-Cove CISD v. Neeley, (“Edgewood V”) was brought by both property-rich

districts and property-poor districts, with neither party calling for the end of the equalization

measures known as “Robin Hood.” Dietz, the Chief Judge of the District Court in Travis County, issued

655 findings of fact and 24 conclusions of law based upon the evidence in a five week trial held in

August and September of this year.

“Today’s ruling supports the basic notion that every

schoolchild in Texas deserves a fighting chance and that educational opportunity depends on the fair

funding of schools,” said MALDEF President and General Counsel Ann Marie Tallman.

MALDEF Regional Counsel Nina Perales added: “Property-poor school districts have continued

to suffer from underfunding, even after our victories in the Edgewood cases. Judge Dietz’s ruling

recognizes the persistent inequality in school finance and sends a strong message to the Texas

Legislature that Latino students deserve better resources and a meaningful opportunity to learn.”

David Hinojosa, MALDEF Staff Attorney and co-lead Counsel for the Edgewood Intervenors

commented further: “Judge Dietz recognizes that our superintendents are doing all they can with the

resources they have, but that in the end, money does matter. The State of Texas erred by raising

academic standards for all Texas children yet only providing funding for a less-than-adequate

education.”

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