Minden Press-Herald

Oct 02nd

School board joins lawsuit to restore funding to district


The Webster Parish School Board has joined several other school districts in a lawsuit against the state in attempts to have funding restored.

"On January 17 there will be hearing in Baton Rouge to get class action certification, so every school system involved will be named as plaintiff," said board attorney Jon Guice. "There are 30 or so systems interested in joining."

RELATED: Click here to view the resolution.

The main worry of board members revolved around cost during a financially strapped time.

The resolution, to which the board unanimously agreed, calls for a contingency fee of 10 percent.

"That means there is no out-of-pocket expense," Guice explained. "You only have to pay if you prevail."

Guice said prevailing in this case would not only mean the lawsuit was successful but also the state legislature would authorize payment.
Guice did acknowledge that while the Louisiana School Board Association is behind the lawsuit, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education may make it difficult for districts who engage in the lawsuit.

"The BESE board has threatened that if you join the lawsuit...well I don't know how favorable your grant request will be viewed," Guice told the board. "I hope that wouldn't be the case, but I want you to know about [the threat]."

The suit hopes to acquire improperly awarded Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) funding, which is awarded to each district based on a formula of student count and other factors.

In August of 2013, Louisiana courts declared MFP disbursement for the 2012-2013 school year unconstitutional because of 2012's Act 2 legislation, which gave public dollars to private schools through school vouchers.

Board member Ronnie Broughton asked Guice what would prevent the state legislature from paying if the lawsuit is won.

"The judge can order payment," Guice explained. "But we cannot seize the asset. It will take an act of the legislature to pass payment on to districts."

Guice said in the event the money makes it to the school district, the board will pay the law firm Hammonds and Seals 10 percent of the amount awarded.






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