Charter schools file finance lawsuit against state
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Charter schools are now represented in their own finance lawsuit.
Parents of charter students, along with the Texas Charter School Association, filed the paperwork Tuesday morning in Austin.
Sarah and Jason Christensen are among parents across the state who believe the choice between sending their child to a standard public school or a charter school is not an equal one.
“I actually don’t think it would benefit Luke, our son, but it may benefit our 3-year-old and even if it doesn’t benefit him, kids coming up, parents need to have a choice and the choices need to be weighed equally,” Sarah said.
Facility funding is one argument named in the suit, claiming the way it's structured is unconstitutional. Unlike school districts that can rely on a local tax base to pay off bonds for capital improvements, charter schools don't get any such opportunity from the state.
Dana Allen is a plaintiff in the suit who has a daughter in a Dallas charter school.
“We don’t have a cafeteria. We don’t have a gym. We don’t have a computer lab. We don’t have a library,” she said.
David Dunn is the Executive Director of the Texas Charter Association, which represents 180 of the 215 charter schools across Texas. The legislature capped the number of charter schools in the state at 215--a figure the plaintiffs claim is 'arbitrary.'
Dunn says the cap has led to 56,000 students being placed on a waiting list.
“There’s no more stark constitutional challenge than zero,” he said. “We think that arbitrary cap on the most efficient schools in the state violates the efficiency clause.”
After years of getting nowhere in the legislature and months of watching five other plaintiff groups file suit against the school finance system, charter school advocates finally took action.
“The board and parents decided it was time for courts to look at things through a charter school lens,” Dunn said.
Five other suits filed by dozens of schools districts and other groups are set to go to trial in the fall.
David Dunn believes this suit will be consolidated with those school finance cases.
That trial is scheduled to start Oct. 22.