Friday, October 5, 2012

Lawsuit alleges school fees unconstitutional

Ada County litigation could affect Blaine County


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

A lawsuit filed this week in Ada County is alleging that public schools throughout Idaho are illegally charging registration and other fees.

The outcome of the litigation, filed Monday in 4th District Court in Boise, could affect various fees charged for classes in the Blaine County School District.

The Spokane Spokesman Review reported this week that the lawsuit was filed against the state of Idaho by former Nampa School District Superintendent Russ Joki, who is alleging that charging fees is illegal because public schools are required to provide free education as provided by the Idaho Constitution. Joki claims in the lawsuit that the illegality of charging fees was upheld by the Idaho Supreme Court in a 1970 ruling against the Minidoka School District regarding litigation over the district’s charging students for textbooks.

The Spokesman Review reported that Joki is seeking a court ruling that would require school districts or the state of Idaho to refund one year’s worth of fees to parents. The estimated refund amount would be more than $2 million.

In the Blaine County School District, registration fees ranging from $5-$15 are charged for various elective classes. For example, at Wood River High School, advanced science classes typically cost a student $5 each while art classes typically cost $15 each.

At Wood River Middle School, students are charged $5 for art and ceramic classes, $10 for crafts and textiles, and $15 for sewing and technology classes.

District Communications Director Heather Crocker explained in an email to the Idaho Mountain Express that the district does not discriminate against students who can’t afford the fees.

“Through the Blaine County Education Foundation’s Can Do Fund, students can request scholarships to help with these fees,” Crocker stated. “The goal is that no child at any of our schools has to worry about missing an opportunity due to lack of funds. If the lawsuit results in any new legislation or Idaho code, the Blaine County School District will certainly comply with any new rules pertaining to fees.”


Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com

 




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